In December, Exhibitus began a three-part webinar series entitled, Pivot & Thrive. The first webinar focused on RESILIENCE, and what that means to individuals, the exhibit industry and to the many trade show booth design companies. As discussed, exhibitors as well as exhibit companies are all looking for ways to manage through the current economic conditions and come out stronger on the other side as the pandemic subsides.
Last week, guest speaker Mike Hamilton, President of Get Syncronicity, responded to a guest’s questions. This week’s question is answered by Travis Stanton, Editor, Exhibitor Magazine.
Question: Travis, are there any positive stats from your research that you can share with us?
Travis: I think the big thing to take away from today’s session is just what the theme implies – our industry is resilient. This is primarily is due to the fact that people in our industry are resilient. And yes, we can point to three “silver linings” that the data we’ve been tracking since May implies.
Live Events Matter
Exhibit managers are saying that the value of live events has become more obvious to upper management with the absence of live events as a source of customer and prospect interactions. Some 39 percent of exhibit managers have confirmed this, and that is a really big deal given that these professionals have spent the bulk of their careers having to justify and re-justify the expenditures of live trade shows.
Back to the Trade Show Floor
The second thing is that the vast majority of companies, 9 out of 10, have plans to attend live events once they are able to do so safely. They’re not saying, “OMG, these virtual events are so amazing and we are getting such great results that we do not plan to go to live events in the future.” Virtual events will continue to play a role, but as part of the overall mix of “face-to-face” marketing programs. True face-to-face will continue to be the foundation.
Budgets Will Return
The third conclusion is that the bulk of the corporate exhibit managers who saw budgets disappear during the pandemic will see those budgets re-emerge, at least in part. Many believe they are going to get their whole budget back when mass gatherings are possible to attend again.
If you look at those three silver linings, all reinforce that despite the discomfort exhibit managers currently are experiencing, they do believe live events are here to stay.
The last point I want to make is that we’re all sitting and waiting, saying, “When is this return going to happen?” I also keep getting the question, “When should we start planning?” My response is that you need to start planning yesterday because if you wait until it’s obvious, you’re already behind.
You need to be working with your exhibit house, with your teams, with your agencies and with your internal stakeholders. Your planning should include not only what you want to do as soon as it’s safe to return to live events, but also determine objectives for the future, making sure you build in contingency plans into the overall program structure. Many exhibit houses have had to cut staff and it will take a while to bring service levels and resources back to pre-COVID days. By working with your exhibit house now, you can avoid being behind the 8-ball down the road. So again – start planning today!
Contact us – Exhibitus is ready to help you plan for a safe return and an awesome face-to-face experience for you and your target attendees at live events as the world opens up.