In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, economies and businesses are looking for ways to rebuild themselves. Live event platforms such as trade shows are a proven way to support this, and many industries have voiced a desire to get back to exhibitions. The challenge lies in how to do this safely and effectively.

To this end, a global coalition has been formed to signal a desire and need to return to face-to-face events, and to coordinate the necessary steps to do this safely. It is led by UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, with the buy-in of industry associations such as SISO (the Society of Independent Show Organizers), as well as the world’s leading exhibitions organisers: Clarion Events, Comexposium, Diversified Communications, Emerald, Informa Markets, Reed Exhibitions (RX) and Tarsus.

The logos of the associations and companies behind the newly launched global coalition.

Many of these same companies and associations were also instrumental in the creation of the All Secure Guidelines last year, which are a set of medically-vetted health and safety measures that offer a consistent and thorough approach to visitor health at trade shows in 2021 and beyond. To support the guidelines, UFI also released a Global Framework for the successful reopening of trade shows.

“Our communities are ready to return to the show floor, and it’s our responsibility to ensure they feel confident that our platforms value their success and safety in equal measure.”

Kai Hattendorf, Managing Director & CEO of UFI, says, “Exhibitions and business events are the fastest of all fast tracks to drive economic recovery after the pandemic. Especially small and medium-sized enterprises rely on these marketplaces to drive their sales. As an industry, we have systems and processes in place to provide safe platforms for face-to-face trading.”

“Our platforms help build and grow global industries,” says Charlie McCurdy, CEO of Informa Markets. “They serve an important role in relationship building, discovering innovation and revenue-driving for the communities they serve. This year, our support in re-invigorating hard-hit communities is more important than ever. Our communities are ready to return to the show floor, and it’s our responsibility to ensure they feel confident that our platforms value their success and safety in equal measure.”

A number of successful trade shows have already been held, which include: Palm Beach International Boat Show and Surf Expo in Florida, USA; JIS in Miami Beach, USA; Cityscape – both the Dubai and Egypt editions; PROJECT Tokyo and Fashion Week Tokyo – both in Japan; SATTE in India; and Hotelex, China Beauty Expo, Music China, Hometex and many more in mainland China. All of these trade shows adopted the All Secure Guidelines.

Some of the new innovations to help reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission that have been used at recent events include open-concept booths, widened aisles, hand sanitizing units, safety ambassadors, mandatory mask-wearing and temperature screening, as well as onsite rapid testing of all participants.

As more cities around the globe begin to re-open, this global coalition hopes to build confidence in the trade show platform based on the extensive safety measures that have been out in place. Some of the new innovations to help reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission that have been used at recent events include open-concept booths, widened aisles, hand sanitizing units, safety ambassadors, mandatory mask-wearing and temperature screening, as well as onsite rapid testing of all participants.

Douglas Emslie, CEO of Tarsus and Chair of SISO, says, “All three organisers, and our customers, were extremely pleased with the turnout and buying activity at our recent co-located fashion events. In providing a controlled and compliant environment, we believe that we have provided reassurance and confidence that live shows are a very effective and safe way to do business once again.”

“In providing a controlled and compliant environment, we believe that we have provided reassurance and confidence that live shows are a very effective and safe way to do business once again.”

Hugh Jones, CEO of Reed Exhibitions, adds, “We are planning meticulously for our return to in-person learning, networking and business after an unprecedented year, keeping health and safety top of mind for reassuring and productive event experiences. At the same time, we continue to extend a growing range of digital tools and remote participation opportunities for those customers who are unable to attend our events in person so that our customers can build their businesses from wherever they are.”

The sixth annual Global Exhibitions Day will take place on 2 June 2021, and will be dedicated to recognising the important role that exhibitions play in driving economies around the world. In the lead up to the day, this coalition wants to prove one thing – “In-person opportunities for connection and business can happen safely and successfully, with collaboration, consistency and customer experience at the heart of the approach.”

READ: What should the events industry expect & plan for in 2021?

Cover image credit: Collision conference and trade show in New Orleans on May 4, 2017