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How To Survive as an Exhibitor during the Covid-19 Pandemic

We’ve all heard it: “Avoid congregating in groups of 10 or more for the next 7-8 weeks.”

What are the implications for the medical industry — typically in the throes of spring conference season? It means change – sometimes last-minute.

According to a poll from Eventsforce earlier this month, 49% of event planners have said the virus has already had an impact on their events1. UFI (The Global Association of Exhibition Industry) reports that more than 500 trade shows have not taken place in recent weeks, costing up to $26 billion in lost orders for exhibitors globally2.

But there are concrete things you can do to make sure you and your company still achieve event strategy goals. This white paper will help you adapt to these new circumstances that sometimes feel out of control.

First:  Take a deep breath!

With so many trade show cancellations and postponements, it is only natural to be frustrated and anxious about what the future holds. Take a deep breath. You are not in this alone!

Take this time to speak with key stakeholders, HR, and other event and marketing professionals to develop a tradeshow and events operating plan that more closely aligns with this new “bare bones” event world we find ourselves in. The more that you can act instead of REact, the better!

Second:  Get clarification.

You got the news: another change in an upcoming tradeshow. Now’s the time to get clarification:  Is it a postponement or a cancellation?

  • Get the facts — You can typically find information about cancellations and refunds on the event website under FAQs.
  • Review cancellation policies — If you’ve booked rooms, venues, and airfare, check with your vendors on their latest policies (specifically force majeure), as many are offering some leniency on cancellations without penalties.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate — Along with speaking to vendors, update your associates. Give them the full picture as to what this cancellation impacts – budget, planned activities, missed opportunities for voice of customer, sales dinners, abstracts, podium presence, etc

Third:  Plan alternatives.

So, now what? This conference was likely the forum for you to communicate a new product, expanded indications, new clinical data or other important information. How else can you reach your target audience in the interim until another industry-specific event happens in the fall?

  • Do it yourself —As a last resort, if you consider hosting your own webinar, remember:
    • Planning for a virtual event is just as involved as an in-person event.
    • You’ll likely face stiff competition and will need to stand out from the crowd, in order to ensure good attendance.

Fourth:  Now, get ahead of it!

In addition to handling changes on a case-by-case basis, here are things you can do PROACTIVELY to prepare for the months ahead:

  • Do some sleuthing — Look at all upcoming tradeshows in the first half of this year and put on your detective hat. Many tradeshow planners and associations are closely monitoring COVID-19 and making determinations, sometimes months in advance, to postpone or cancel.

If you can’t find information online, reach out to tradeshow planners on an individual basis, and ask for an update on the show’s status.

This, too, shall pass. Until it does, though, we hope you can take the information you learned here and apply it. Please also share your best practices with the event community, as well.



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