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  • Richard Campbell

The Future Shape of Exhibitions & Events


As we move out of Covid-19 will the shape of exhibitions and events change? Maybe not so much in what they are, but how they are managed, accepted and what organisers will need to provide will play a key part.

Currently the broad-brush description by government of events is a mass gathering, whether it is for 20,000 plus or whether it is for 200. These in reality are two vastly different prospects. In the recent haste for safety and protection of the community in 2020, it was a necessary approach.

To be practical, in bringing events back into the market they should be broken down to more formally recognise the size, the nature and the necessary policies behind the specific events. In doing so, the return to a more normal business environment for many organisations may be possible. Gradually increasing the size and controls for events can then be made and measured.

For millennia, events have been a natural part of human existence and a valuable part of trade, entertainment and social interaction. Once things settle, it will again be part of our cultural fabric for a long time to come.

Will there be a new normal? Not really. There will be changes though, in how events are managed and the offerings available. The inclusion of virtual components to create blended events will increase but there will always be the need for face to face communication and hands-on experiences. Hybrid (or blended) events will be part of the transition back using a mix of live and virtual presentations. Events requiring participant travel will take longer to recover.

It may not be obvious to the general public, but events of all types and sizes are currently well regulated, and the future will see a further layer introduced covering off in more detail, communicable diseases. It should be seen as a great opportunity to make events even safer.

Policies which will be part of future events can include tracking apps, CovidSafe for example can provide peace of mind for attendees and potentially it would be good to see it continue for some time. The introduction of hygiene training for event staff along the lines of the responsible service of alcohol will also be a great addition.

Attendees will also need to be managed better with the pre-purchase or registration process. Other measures implemented will be more robust venue number controls, temperature checks (in the short term), social distancing and crowd control, hand sanitising and hand cleaning stations will be the norm.

Events will return with stronger management and more responsible actions from attendees. The social and economic impacts from the events industry is a critical part of a balanced future outlook.

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