Originally published by Trade Show Executive
As the trade show industry continues to navigate the storm created by COVID-19, one of the most crucial skills we have had to draw upon has been our adaptability. When any industry faces difficult and stressful times, its leaders must formulate ways to either stay the course needed to weather the storm, or find a new path around it. In the case of exhibitions and events, we are doing some of both by leaning hard on the new learning opportunities that COVID-19 has presented.
While we are not able to interact in the face-to-face environment we are used to, we are keeping our human connections and business connections intact through virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft® Teams and BlueJeans Meetings, to name a few. We are also seeing an increase in webinar attendance and chat room participation, which have been a regular part of our continuing education practices for a while now.
Many of us are traversing uncharted territory in the area of virtual and/or hybrid events. The stretch outside of our comfort zones varies, but the consensus points to the understanding that we have crossed into a domain in which there is no turning back. In order to continue effectively and efficiently producing shows, we must embrace this new path in the journey of bringing buyers and sellers together.
This will require the same investment in our teams’ educational development that industry leaders have always valued. The design of a virtual event has its own requirements, specialties and challenges, as I know many of you are discovering based on the conversations we have been having. While we are accustomed to designing a live event, designing and producing a virtual event is similar to producing a television show. Certainly, by now we know selling for a virtual environment requires the ability to adapt the style and approach. Marketing a virtual event also requires a more expansive view of the customer journey through the event, and the keen ability to ultimately paint the picture of an engaging experience in place of face-to-face.
The development of these skill sets are laying the framework for our industry’s recovery. It is important now more than ever for members of the industry to keep learning and building upon their talents. I encourage industry professionals to attend as many educational opportunities as you can and stay connected with your peers in as many conversation platforms as you are able. Explore the new paths opening up right before our very eyes and integrate these into your own expertise developed prior to COVID-19.
I also encourage executive leaders to see the potential for their organizations by investing in this educational “growth spurt” we are experiencing. We are no strangers to breaking new ground. We are entering a new era for our industry and we know that knowledge is power. The truth is that we need all the power we can get our hands on – as individuals, organizations and as an industry – to rebound from this unprecedented storm in the way we would like and with the success that I know we have the collective ability to achieve.
I salute those of you who have found yourselves on the front end of the learning curve we have all been thrown into. To those of you who have braved the front lines of the evolutionary process our industry is undergoing and have been generous with sharing your bumps, bruises, victories and helpful advice: thank you! I say this a lot because it is absolutely true; the collaborative nature of our industry is genuinely one of its greatest assets.
It is important to remember that storms do end and the sun does eventually comes out. We must stay focused, steadfast and positive until that time comes. By developing the new opportunities before us now, our industry is grooming itself for a stronger and more versatile future.
David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO