COVID-19 curtailed travel and in-person attendance, causing the trade show business to struggle during the past year. As vaccinations become more widely available and regulations ease, the potential of in-person trade exhibitions appears to be resurgent. Even so, the way forward may not be obvious.
Even after the epidemic has passed, questions about event safety are likely to persist. Similarly, after growing acclimated to virtual trade fair experiences, some potential attendees may suddenly prefer them. Trade show organizers face a hurdle with these tendencies, but you can work around them.
Here are 5 ways to encourage more people to attend post-COVID trade events in person.
Ensure the safety of visitors
Ensure health and safety is perhaps the most important element in planning an in-person trade exhibition after COVID. According to a recent study, 60 percent of trade show attendees believe it’s too soon to determine when they’d feel safe going in person again. With so many people concerned about their health, it’s critical to ensure that events are safe.
It’s simple and uncomplicated to ensure event safety by keeping stalls and exhibitions at least six feet apart. Similarly, demanding temperature checks before entry may assist to allay certain tourists’ fears. Taking further precautions, such as asking unvaccinated guests to remain wearing masks, can add an extra layer of safety and comfort.
Working with surrounding hotels and airports to develop a “bubble” system for international passengers would be a good idea. This may even be required by government legislation, depending on the time and place of your event. Steps that aren’t legally necessary, on the other hand, might assist guests feel secure.
Encourage the use of interactive experiences
One of the most major hurdles to in-person participation, apart from safety, is the convenience of virtual events. Some participants, used to internet trade exhibitions, may believe that attending in person is no longer necessary. The key to attracting these people is emphasizing what virtual trade exhibitions lack: face-to-face engagement.
Over 80% of trade fair participants have purchasing power at work, yet virtual experiences aren’t suitable for checking out new items. It’s a tempting opportunity if your show floor has a lot of hands-on exhibitions where visitors can try out items and services for themselves.
Companies that haven’t had the opportunity to test possible investments before purchasing them would value the encounter. People will be drawn away from their virtual comfort zones if these hands-on activities are promoted as part of the in-person trade fair.
Place a premium on the event’s location and experience.
Many professionals are undoubtedly keen to travel again after spending more than a year largely in one location. According to one poll, 72 percent of American consumers want to travel in 2021, while 28 percent of remote employees plan to travel. You may take advantage of these trends by focusing on the recreational components of your event.
Attendees who are on the fence will be enticed by an attractive location or a unique travel experience. Even if attending a trade fair in person doesn’t pique their interest, the possibility of a mini-vacation could. Using tourism-related characteristics of your site, such as surrounding restaurants, sights, and activities, to attract these people will assist.
Consider forming a partnership with neighboring hotels or tourist destinations to assist in this region. Hosting post-show activities such as excursions or gourmet experiences would underline the show’s potential for entertainment as well as business.
Give out freebies and gifts
Similarly, you may encourage attendees to come in person by holding giveaways or providing gratis items. Depending on how far off your event is from the outbreak, this may have to alter from previous giveaways. You may take advantage of this by reimagining gifting to provide a one-of-a-kind experience.
Instead of handing out presents, you might bundle them up and ship them to guests. This option reduces the health concerns associated with shared surfaces while also providing an opportunity for a more enjoyable experience. Instead of everyone receiving the same thing, guests may personalize their gift bundles.
Customized gift packages are more appealing than regular offerings, resulting in increased in-person attendance. After the event, send them as a thank-you for participating. This will increase loyalty for future conferences.
Diversify your offerings when going hybrid
Events occurring shortly after the pandemic may benefit from a mixed strategy. Offering both an in-person and a virtual trade fair can help you increase total attendance, but you should proceed with caution. By distinguishing what each experience delivers, you can ensure that virtual attendance does not eat into in-person visits.
You can avoid having a totally online event if you explain separate value propositions for each aspect of the hybrid experience. Attendees must be certain that visiting in person will provide them with something distinctive and intriguing. Otherwise, out of convenience or residual health concerns, they’ll most likely opt to attend online.
Promote your unique in-person experiences in your advertising materials to increase in-person attendance. Emphasize what makes the in-person show distinct and what it has to offer that no other show has. Some people may prefer to attend online but will attend the in-person option if it offers more.
In-person trade shows will be revitalized with these steps
Trade exhibitions will most likely take a long time, perhaps even a few years, to recover to pre-pandemic levels. If you’re planning an event in the near future, or if you intend to when COVID-19 levels sink further lower, you’ll need to take this into consideration. These methods can assist you in alleviating lingering worries and encouraging in-person participation.
While in-person trade exhibitions took a hit during the epidemic, they aren’t going away. In-person attendance can recover faster if event organizers try to reduce risks while generating fresh and compelling experiences.