In college, I had a journalism instructor who said if you can think of anything that might seem of interest, to even one person, including yourself, you should write about it.
That being said, my last blog was in February. It was never my intention to wait that long to post another one, but any of the thoughts, interests and experiences I tried to draw on, centered too much around dealing with the pandemic. It has always been my intent to engage, possibly entertain and have some fun writing these. The last ten months have offered very little inspiration that would not seem controversial or polarizing to at least someone. I just didn’t want to go there.
No discussion of politics or religion at Thanksgiving with the family, right. Well now we have a new topic that includes asking if “you are a vaxxer or not”. Middle child syndrome at work here. Don’t create controversy and fixate on fairness. So whether or not you decided to receive a vaccine, go to restaurants, attend parties or follow mask mandates and recommendations, we are where we are, almost 2 years later and 11 months since February.
The trade show and event industry seemed to wait it out as long as possible before starting to come back. There was optimism in the Spring and then a sense of hesitancy as we headed into the Summer. Very few wanted to take the chance to have an event.
If the heightened activity this Fall was any indication, it was finally time to bounce back. Events in the first and second quarters of 2022 are almost in full swing now. The new realities we are experiencing with labor challenges, extended lead times and supply chain shortages, though, are not going away. They may get a little better over time, but will not necessarily go away completely.
October was a very liberating month. We attended a small wedding ceremony and reception (outdoors) for the first time and I hopped on a plane to attend Exhibitor in Las Vegas. The wedding was festive but there was also a sense of caution by all. Exhibitor was sparsely attended, not at all the spectacle that it had become prior to the pandemic. It was good to see so many industry peers and associates live and not on Zoom. I enjoyed spending extended time talking with folks instead of breezing through the show floor and not spending as much time as I would’ve liked.
It was odd not to see aisle carpet. That seems to be the rule though, more than the exception, based on what our clients have been telling us. They are also sharing with us that buyers and attendees that do come to the show floor are more qualified and anxious to do more than just kick the tires. To quote Martha Stewart, “That’s a good thing.”
So, almost two years later, where does this leave the exhibit and event marketer? Here are my thoughts:
-Plan earlier than ever. Expect additional time on new builds and updates. Getting the answers or guidance to even basic questions, probably will take longer.
-Costs to participate in shows and face-to-face marketing events have increased across the board, from labor to material handling, freight and the properties themselves. If you are budgeting, I would increase everything 10%, with freight higher, an additional 20%.
-Really have a “Plan B”. What if you can’t get exactly what you need in the time allotted? Do you have a back up display or graphic to get you through? Is there an alternative that is accessible and obtainable that will get you by?
-As far as lack of aisle carpet, it’s time to invest in some comfortable shoes. I switched to gym shoes three hours in at Exhibitor. No one seemed to notice or care.
To wrap up 2021 is difficult. I would call it a roller coaster at best. On the upswing of the roller coaster, though, JP Morgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, thinks 2022 will see the economy coming back. In a note to clients Marko Kolanovic, chief global markets strategist for JP Morgan wrote, "Our view is that 2022 will be the year of a full global recovery, an end of the global pandemic and a return to normal conditions we had prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.”
So it really has been almost two years. I like that JP Morgan believes things are looking up from an economic view. I also like that I finally convinced myself to finish a blog.