Where is the exhibitions industry headed in the coming months of 2022? Here's what we are looking out for.
Cathy Breden, CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) pointed out in a recent blog post that attendee motivation is evolving, and that we need to think of our events as a community.
“For example, consider creating a community around the exhibition where content that is generated from the event is placed on an online platform that encourages conversations to be carried on throughout the year via the platform, or using an association’s community platform,” she says.
To make a B2B event or exhibition as attractive as possible, offer choice and flexibility, so people can engage and join in on their own terms. With exhibitions having shifted to the virtual during the pandemic, it has taught us that timing isn’t everything.
Instead of having to stick to rigid set times, or rush around trying to fit in meetings around a vast showfloor, attendees and exhibitors alike can join in from anywhere and at any time and view on-demand content at their leisure.
You can tailor content to different time zones, or even consider hosting a smaller in-person hub for an exhibition, with people joining in remotely. This makes the environment less busy and therefore safer for people to gather in a crowd.
A reimagined workforce
The pandemic has had a profound effect on today’s workforce. Combining two or three days in the office with the equivalent at home is now the norm for many, while for others, training around new technologies and digital event platforms will be vital in the coming months.
CEIR’s Breden also suggests that employees need to understand how their roles have changed or may change. “For a hybrid event, as an example, you may need two separate teams: one for the physical event and the other to produce the digital event. New positions and titles not previously needed might warrant consideration,” she says, giving ‘digital event manager’ as one example.
Health and safety remain a priority
As the exhibition and events industries continue to evolve post-pandemic, health and safety considerations are likely to feature at exhibitions for many months to come. Of course, these should be in place as standard, but will need to be adapted to reflect any changes brought on by Covid-19.
Health guidelines and policies — for both attendees and exhibitors — will need to be embedded many months before an exhibition takes place and regularly reviewed in the run-up to the event. Staff may require additional training, you may need to arrange health checks on site and there may be a requirement for fixed seating during meals or coffee breaks.