Exhibitions Post-C19: Why early planning is vital

Rachel Ellen 2


The damage that C19 has had on the exhibitions industry is untold and, while there is now light at the end of the tunnel, we are not going straight back to normal. Over the next 12 months the recovery will take place, but it is important that exhibitors play their part too. This article aims to highlight why, over the next year, it is important to commit to exhibitions, trade shows and reputable stand builders as early as you can to avoid disappointment.

Lifting of COVID restrictions on July 19th

There have been several successful trial exhibitions (e.g., EdTech X and the Health Plus Care shows) over the last few months to prove that it is indeed possible to manage C19 infection risks by considering, for example, flow of exhibition visitors, implementing design changes to stands and displays, using technology and by following updated C19 industry specific H&S measures.

As confirmed by the Prime Minister, the final stage of lifting COVID restrictions for the UK began on July 19th. Almost all social restrictions that are now in place will be removed and events such as exhibitions will be able to take place by following advisory procedures aimed to minimise infection risks.

The experience to exhibition visitors will be different with the increased Health and Safety measures and while it is possible that, in time, we will go back to something closer to normality, this certainly will not be the case just after the 19th of July. One thing that should be expected is the use of technology, both by show organisers and the exhibitors themselves, that will help reduce the risk of infection among attendees.

Example of 01EX exhibition stand work
Exhibition stand designed, manufactured and fitted by 01EX

Exhibition shows after COVID

There are still several challenges for the exhibition industry. Not looking at the obvious, like for example Brexit, our industry is facing (hopefully short term) trial times post-C19 that are important to consider.

Due to the lack of events, many workers have left the exhibition industry, looking elsewhere to make a living. This means resources are likely to be stretched for many businesses in the exhibition industry, as they begin to recover and rebuild their workforce. A trend unlikely to change for the last quarter of 2021 and the first half of 2022.

As with construction across the board, not only is skilled labour in high demand, but so are raw materials – with transport, lead times and costs increasing at a rate not seen since 1997 (see). Put simply, as is currently happening with the residential construction trade, demand may outweigh the ability to supply. This will have a massive impact on trade shows, as material shortages may prohibit people from having last-minute stands constructed.

Another factor exacerbating the above-mentioned demand vs. supply imbalance is, sadly, the many companies in the exhibition industry that stopped trading. This means that exhibitors are finding that their go to people are not working in this sector anymore, or just retired, and must find a new supplier.

Logistics are also to be considered. As no shows were able to take place last year, many exhibition shows are now booked to go ahead at the same time all over the UK. This is creating significant pressure for a lot of service providers within the events industry, as they will not have enough resources to service concurrent shows across the country.

With many people still working from home, the summer break and the uncertainty surrounding which events are going ahead or not, it has also been difficult for stand builders and exhibition service providers to engage with customers during these times. Understandingly, it is also important to consider that a customer go/no go decision is riddled with complexity, from weighing in the marketing and sales benefits to attend a show and the financial cost after a difficult period to who they are sending to man the stand after having to e.g., let go many employees. This means that unprecedented delays are also an important cause for concern.

In conclusion, responsible stand builders and event suppliers will have to evaluate their approved jobs vs the resources that are available and there is a real possibility of having to say no to jobs they know cannot commit to because of, as already mentioned, labour and materials shortages, as well as logistic concerns that will prohibit companies like 01EX from delivering the service experience that customers deserve.

Another 01EX Exhibition Stand
Exhibition stand designed, manufactured and fitted by 01EX

How can exhibiting companies help?

So, what can you do? Quite simply, get planning your 2021 and early 2022 exhibition schedule as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more likely all costs are to go up and the more difficult it will be to find a reputable exhibition service provider. In previous years, the decision to attend later summer or winter events have been left until after the summer holidays. We strongly advise not waiting that long to book your trade shows and the associated moving parts such as, of course, the design and build of your trade show stand.

As a 01EX customer you will have an allocated project manager committed to support and help your event experience to be a success. If it is that you “can’t cope at the moment”, please try engaging us. We design, build, print and fit using in-house resources. This means that, while taking part at an exhibition it is never a 100% stress free experience, as experts we can take a lot of the load off you.

Hopefully, we have managed to persuade you not to wait too long when planning your exhibition show stand. With everything that is going on right now, it would certainly be in everybody’s best interest to start planning as soon as possible.

If you would like to learn more about exhibition shows or discuss any of your upcoming requirements, please contact us.