State of the Industry update from Apogee Exhibits and Environments
As I write this newsletter update, we are now nearly 6 months to the day, from the last major event we coordinated for our clients (ConAgg/ConExpo). The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the live events industry, including the medium where most of us live, Trade Shows. I wanted to share an update about what Apogee is doing, and has been doing since the outbreak of Covid-19 with you, and what the future holds for live events. Undoubtedly everyone reading this newsletter has been impacted by the pandemic. Some personally, and most all professionally. We have had some colleagues and I’m sure some clients lose people during this time, so our thoughts and prayers are with you.
The State of the Industry
The trade show industry is now dealing with what will likely be its toughest time, and certainly a very challenging time for the team here at Apogee. With zero revenues moving through the industry, and many furloughed or unemployed (including many here at Apogee), it is an unprecedented time for all. Many businesses, like ours have had to pivot to other revenue streams while we (not so patiently) wait for shows to return. Our company is no different. We were distributing PPE to local hospitals early on, and later did some fabrication for intubation boxes for a local need as well. Most recently we spun off the Environments side of our business to its own division, Apogee Environments. This division is focused on Interior Corporate branding and environments, but more importantly, distributing hygiene and disinfection solutions for businesses, and helping plan a safe and effective Return-to-Office strategy for local clients.
On the Exhibits side of the business we are busy building virtual spaces for clients who have a need to stay in front of their customers and potential customers. Virtual or Hybrid events are here to stay and are now an integrated part of an overall Marketing Strategy that will later be used as an effective tool to promote a presence at a trade show, and help build an audience and engagement prior to, during, and post event. Here’s a recent blog article I co-published with a partner that speaks to that. One very important item to note about your shows “going virtual”. Many of the show organizers are scrambling to provide value (and keep some of your dollars from cancelled events). Most virtual show platforms have not addressed the most important critical factor required for a successful event, virtual or otherwise, audience engagement. A site with a few simple links, or limitations to what you, the exhibitor, can do with creating your own virtual micro-site, does not adequately build, attract, or an engage an audience. To do that you must create an EVENT that is immersive, and engaging.
In that article, we reference that a recent CEIR (Center for Exhibition Research) study from a poll of Exhibit Managers that shows some good news:
So, what are the Corporate Exhibit mangers saying?
- 92% say shows will return
- 80% say virtual will be part of their program moving forward
- 52% have already implemented some sort of virtual element
We know that when live events and trade shows return, things will be different. New social awareness and social distancing protocols will need to be implemented and adhered to. Disinfection protocols of exhibits will be necessary as well. Early-on audiences may be smaller, but the attendees may actually have a higher level of influence than normal traffic (ie more decision making or buying power). This recent publication by the Exhibition Services and Contractors Association dives deep into what will happen when events return to ensure a healthy and safe experience.
When will shows return?
We need a vaccine. Plain and simple. Until that time most local officials will not allow convention venues to fully re-open. We are seeing signs of life at a few venues, and some international shows are starting to slowly come back online. In the US, it’s felt that we will not return to a full slate of events until the second quarter of 2021. In the meantime, we are helping people with Marketing Strategy and virtual spaces and events to help them stay in touch with clients.
We’re also now designing a few new exhibits or exhibit rentals for those clients who have shows scheduled for 2021. We predict a major shortage of rental inventories for Q2 2021 with some major shows coming, so it’s important also to begin your planning and reserve rental inventories early. We of course will work to refund any rental deposits received in the event of a cancellation by a show. If you’d like to begin designing and planning for any events leading into 2021 now is the time to get started. Please reach out to us and we’ll go to work for you!
In closing we simply wanted you to know we’re still here, still alive, and still looking forward to going back to work for you in execution of your live events and trade shows. We hope this time has provided an opportunity for you to appreciate the important things in your lives, and spend time with those who are important to you. I feel a sense of closer connections to many which has been a positive outcome from this ordeal. We are excited to help in whatever capacity you need from your team at Apogee Exhibits or Apogee Environments. Stay safe!
President and CEO