15. September 2021 | Expo & Event Marketing, Retail News, Shop Fitting, Store Design & Visual Merchandising, Visual Merchandising

Tips for trade show exhibitors and booth designers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

by Elisa Wendorf (exclusively for EuroShop.mag)

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world and events and trade shows are no exception. The impact could already be seen last year at the CARAVAN SALON, which took place in September 2020 under different circumstances and new requirements. The latter have now become the norm. In compliance with respective federal state measures, (in-person) trade shows can once again take place across Germany.

Exhibitors must adapt to changed situations, but it also gives them the chance to grow and take advantage of several circumstances. New regulations for trade fairs and events facilitate a trade show comeback across Germany. We have compiled a list of the most important aspects for organizers and exhibitors to help them prepare and ensure future trade show success.

Hygiene concept: Promote your infection prevention measures!

Even though it is critical right now, a strong hygiene concept is also a smart choice post-pandemic – as it helps protect the health and safety of both trade show visitors and your employees. As a trade show exhibitor, your efforts instill confidence in visitors who emphasize cleanliness and hygiene and would otherwise avoid public spaces with human contact. It also increases customer loyalty and brand engagement.

An effective hygiene concept means establishing a hygiene action plan, which must be created in the run-up to the event. The general rules are:

  • Promote your hygiene measures: continually disinfect surfaces and objects frequently touched by visitors and employees.
  • Provide ample sanitizer dispensers.
  • Choose booth displays and supplies that are quick and easy to clean and use the right cleaning products.
  • Train your booth staff in the run-up to the event and update them on all regulations and protective measures. Prior to the event, designate a booth associate as the hygiene officer and contact person for hygiene-related questions.
  • Draw up a risk management and response plan in case of COVID-19 exposure.
  • Run through possible trade show booth scenarios and identify any potential problems. Strategically plan countermeasures in case of hygiene violations. For example, practice to politely alert visitors to any misconduct and evict unreasonable persons from your booth or the exhibition property.
  • Always keep extra masks on hand – also for your visitors who did not bring their own protection.
  • Be creative and leverage masks as a marketing tool by adding your company logo, for example.

Digitization: Be creative and willing to try new things!

Someone scans a QR-Code on a piece of paper with his smartphone

© Unsplash/Claudio Schwarz

The pandemic has accelerated digitization. Lockdowns, contact restrictions and social distancing guidelines are also prompting drastic changes in the retail world. Digital options for payment, ordering, pickup, and other aspects are now integral parts of new sales strategies. These ideas can also come in handy as it relates to physical customer contact at events.

As a trade show exhibitor and organizer, you should look into new tools, their applications, and the technical requirements for their use before the event takes place. Here are just some examples of practical applications:

  • Contactless (online) event check-in and automated admission control that check the digital QR code of the German COVID Vaccination Passport are valuable tools, especially in light of the so-called “3G/2G Covid health pass rules” applicable in most federal states.
  • Use digital components (connecting “remote employees” to provide contactless consulting, for example).
  • Broaden the visitor experience with virtual product presentations.
  • Use QR codes. Customers can scan them conveniently with their smartphone to learn more about your products or services, for example. You can also use QR codes for interactive purposes to encourage visitors to take part in contests or sweepstakes or to submit reviews (rating their trade fair visit or your booth, for example).
  • Messe Düsseldorf offers an online 3D Configurator that helps you design your booth in just a few easy steps.

Booth construction: Choose quality over quantity!

When it comes to trade show booth design and appointment scheduling, pay attention to these useful tips:

  • Develop one-way traffic direction and use floor markings to avoid visitor collisions.
  • Collaborate with trade show management to offer visitors a comprehensive, positive trade fair experience with standardized hygiene measures.
  • Focus on digital information resources and avoid paper flyers and brochures. Continue to hand out business cards – visitors still collect them even during the pandemic.
  • Reduce the number of staff present to always maintain social distancing, making sure your booth is not and does not look overcrowded.
  • Create a cozy booth atmosphere that is inviting.
  • Consider scheduling booth and private appointments to avoid crowds.

Engagement: How to attract visitors despite social distancing measures

Fewer visitors do not suggest less interest: adapt your goals to reflect the applicable measures and use this as an opportunity for a more personal, intensive exchange with interested contacts.

  • Incorporate visitors in your program and never sacrifice interaction!
  • Adapt to your counterpart: How would he/she wish to be greeted? Does he/she prefer to avoid the classic handshake?

Provide access to your content and contact info even after the trade fair has ended by calling attention to your website or social media channels at your booth, for example. Show your visitors that you will also be present post-trade show – and that you are the same reliable company even in the face of the pandemic.

Practical implementation: Messe Düsseldorf shows how it’s done

Messe Düsseldorf has created a sophisticated hygiene concept for all events at the Düsseldorf Exhibition Center, summarized under the name PROTaction. Booth construction is also subject to standards for hygiene and infection protection. However, the Accreditation for set-up and dismantling is presently not required. Thanks to last year’s “hybrid trade fair” format, Messe Düsseldorf also paved the way for an integrated omnichannel strategy. So EuroCIS 2022 takes off again and shows how trade fairs become a medium!

Trade fairs that are shaped by the pandemic will continue to differ from previous events in the future, which is why organizers, exhibitors and visitors should embrace this new experience as an opportunity. Many companies have made positive changes – from redistributing tasks to digital training. This transformation can help spur benefits: As a retailer, use this breath of fresh air that inspires creativity and innovative thinking in your team and leverage your next trade fair appearance to blow the outside world away!

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