ON THE HORIZON: 7 TIPS FOR THE RETURN OF EVENTSNOVEMBER 15, 2022| ericschmidt
CategoriesTrade Shows and Events
As seen in What They Think Magazine.
“Great to see you again,” we say as we rediscover the camaraderie of live events.
From graduation parties to weddings, grand openings to music festivals, the event industry expects a strong rebound and anticipates 23% growth over the next five years. Annual trade shows are in bloom – including those in the printing industry like the upcoming ISA Expo in Atlanta and Printing United in Las Vegas. We may not trust the buffet just yet, but the new normal feels pretty good.
If you’re hosting an in-person event, creating a social atmosphere is still a balancing act. To attract attendees and make everyone feel comfortable, here are seven tips to guide the process:
Mixing with large groups again can be intimidating. Make sure to convey, verbally and visually, that safety is your top priority. Onsite signage should inform attendees the steps you’ve taken, that spaces have been cleaned, and that food and beverage service meets the highest safety standards. Coordinate with your venue to ensure every aspect. For those who prefer to wear them, plan to provide free masks, as well as hand sanitizer, and if you’re checking vaccine or test result status at the door, verify it with a hand stamp or badge sticker. If you decide to require a vaccine, communicate it when guests first register, and again onsite, along with other changes from previous events.
Show Not Tell
In 2022, a handshake isn’t the same kryptonite it was the past two years. But it can still be awkward guessing whether a greeting may involve a hug or an elbow bump. This is especially true at annual conventions where many attendees are close friends and would be greeted with physical contact in pre-pandemic times. Consider developing a wristband system where event participants can choose green for “ok to handshake and hug,” yellow for “elbow bumps only” and red for “please socially distance.” This one visual cue will spare everyone a lot of anxiety.
Socialize Al Fresco
While there may be no avoiding the shared space of an indoor convention hall, exhibitors and attendees will appreciate fresh air at every opportunity. Welcome receptions, cocktail mixers and other parties should be staged outdoors as much as possible, weather permitting. If you’re partnered with a local hotel, rooftop soirees add elegance and panoramic views to the social experience. Don’t forget heat lamps or outdoor air conditioning to keep the temperature under control.
Offer a slate of wellness activities, especially for multi-day events. Begin the morning with a group yoga class, host a hike as a social outing, schedule a walking tour of the city, etc. Many attendees are health-conscious, and many more simply restless, so getting their endorphins up will elevate moods and provide a physical outlet. It can also eliminate concerns about squeezing in solo workouts in the often-crowded hotel gym. We’re all ready to stretch our legs.
Create an Experience
Nearly everyone appreciates the sensory stimulation of being at a live event, the amenities and discoveries that transform a plain business trip into a memorable experience. You’ll drive higher attendance and satisfaction if there’s more value than just raw information. One-third of event professionals say they would allocate extra funds to improve the onsite experience, according to Global Meetings and Event Forecast. One easy step: supercharge the event graphics. It’s much cheaper than bringing a live sloth to draw a crowd – which we have seen done.
From travel impact alone, one large event can create the same amount of CO2 as an entire city for a week. As attendees are becoming more environmentally conscious, consider the steps you can take to resonate with this ethos, like eliminating straws, offering recycling, using recycled products when possible, and moving to PVC-free, eco-friendly materials in your trade show and event graphics and décor.
Step Up Social
Attendees have a renewed appreciation for being at live events again and will want to share that enthusiasm more than ever on social media. Go beyond just promoting the event and create templates and event hashtags, engaging with attendees digitally as much as you can. Add a photo or video booth and live social media wall to amp up the sharable experience and amplify reach.
Business has always been built on in-person relationships. Maybe it’s that sale that happens from a new connection on the trade show floor or an unexpected opportunity that comes up over drinks at the hotel bar. As we all creep toward a post-pandemic world, we’re excited to reconnect in personal and professional settings that reaffirm our shared humanity.