Is this the end of the exhibition stand

Saturday, 27 June 2020

What will be the future of the exhibition stand?

Any Exhibition stand, trade show or live event all depend on design of a better future.

At the time of writing who would believe we are now into the 15th week of lockdown due to Covid 19. I would guess everyone is asking the same question – where will it all end? It also begs many more questions not least; what will the new normal look like? Because I cannot ever see us returning to the old normal! New ways of doing things are already entrenched most for the better and some out of necessity.
At last though we do seem to be experiencing an easing of restrictions, however for our Exhibition and Event sector we suspect that there is a marathon to run before large scale live exhibitions will be allowed to re-open and unless a vaccine is miraculously developed, the 2m rule is relaxed or the industry exempted from social distancing it may not reopen for quite a few years. All is not doom and gloom though! The industry, as a whole, must use the time in a positive fashion - how?
1. Lobby government to reduce the 2m rule to 1m 
2. start to think about how we can design a better safer future for exhibition stand show, event and conference show organisation - exhibition stand design will be the key here to.
3. Convince visitors it is safe to attend, no attendees, no event!

Lobby the government about safe exhibitions

We all need to be badgering our MP’s and provide them with the data that is readily available on the internet showing that 1m is the recommended distance not 2m as supported by the WHO 
Once this has been established explain that with other measures including:
Attendance by appointment only
Taking temperatures at the entrance to an exhibit 
Wearing masks or visors 
Regular hand washing and sanitisation of surfaces
Good exhibition stand design with guided walkways
Perspex or glass screens between salespeople and attendees
Hand sanitisation units
A good deal of common sense 
Then a trade show should be no more of a risk than turning up to a factory to make a car or shopping in a supermarket.
Better exhibition stand design
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Lessons can be taken from all walks of life, many disciplines needed to continue to operate safely during the lockdown. These included the Supermarkets, Utility Suppliers, Police, Firemen, NHS and many more all of whom have learnt big lessons through trial and error to minimise the passing on of the virus. Our industry can adopt and adapt many of the procedures developed to provide a safe trade show stand experience. 
Many new criteria will need to be considered when exhibition stand designers do their job. First and foremost, will be the prevention of virus spread. Hand sanitisation, surfaces being cleaned, open space so people can pass by each other at a safe distance. It will still be important to get the message across but more use of video walls or large led screens to impart information so people can stay safely apart. This may also necessitate the use of throw away earphones so people can watch and listen to a presentation and avoid cross contamination. Meeting and break out areas will need to have seating safely distanced and meetings kept as short as possible, time as well as distance plays a part in virus infection rates. Consideration will also need to be given to displaying health and safety notices in and around the stand to remind delegates to keep their distance.
It’s not only the stand design that needs to be carefully thought out, the venue also will need to think about safe ways of distancing people between stands, maybe larger walkways, one way systems, counting people in and out, - just like the supermarkets, who have proven it does work.
Visits by appointment only may also be an option, this would lead to better prospects.
In conclusion if we all work together and can overcome these hurdles, we might see live events come back sooner rather than later.



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