For several months, industry officials have been discussing what the first trade shows to open up will look like.  What post-pandemic changes will exhibitors face at a trade show?  Whether happening in the fall of 2020 or in January of 2021, trade shows are likely to look different to exhibitors.  Consider the changes you might observe at your next post-pandemic trade show:

Touchless Registration and Entry Points

Many industry officials, conventions, and advocacy groups believe that touchless registration and entry points will be a feature of the post-pandemic trade show.  This would be a nice improvement for several reasons.  It would remove congestion for last-minute registrants.  It would also allow convention centers the ability to welcome guests without having to clean between every touch on entry doors.  A trade show with this kind of entry and registration wouldn’t necessarily be an invitation to attendees without badges.  There would still be systems and processes in place to scan phones or badges mailed in advance to guard against people trying to sneak in.

touchless entry trade show

Trade Show Health Check Stations

Many industry professionals are predicting there will be a need for health check systems in order to enter the building.  This could include temperature checks and the requirement that attendees wear masks at all times.  If a trade show attendee is running a fever, it’s likely they won’t be let into the building.  Procedures like these are being discussed now at convention centers.  How might they ensure the safety of attendees?  And what might happen if someone comes who appears to be sick? These are the kinds of hard questions that will be discussed at length prior to the reopening of shows across the nation.  The addition of health and safety items such as sanitizing stations or UV-C cleaning attachments would likely become a common sight at your next post-pandemic trade show.

trade show temperature check

Wider Exhibit Hall Aisles and One-Way Aisles

Since there is no comprehensive guide to reopening trade shows yet, we can only put forth guesses as to what a post-pandemic trade show might look like.  One thing that many industry officials agree upon is the widening of aisles.  Social distancing has been key to flattening the curve and will likely be a part of any regulations for safely reopening trade shows in many different regions.  Wider aisles and one-way aisles at a trade show would allow for more regulated traffic flow.  This would reduce people literally bumping into one another if they weren’t looking where they were going down the aisle.

trade show social distancing

A Trade Show Featuring Fewer Exhibitors

The post-pandemic trade show might also feature fewer exhibitors in an effort to distance trade show booth spaces.   The old rows of 10×10 and 10×20 inline booth spaces might become a thing of the past at larger shows.  This means spaces might rise in prices for annual shows.  It also might mean the rise in regional trade show opportunities.  However, with fewer exhibitors, exhibitors in smaller spaces might get more creative with how they design their trade show display.   We might see the rise of double-deck displays in order to offer more distance down below.  We might also see less touch screen demonstrations, more video demonstrations, and live speakers.  Fewer exhibitors might also mean less competition at shows.

Trade shows are going to come back, but how they will look and operate might be very different depending upon state guidelines, county input, health agency input, and more.  When they do come back, be prepared for potential changes.

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