Wouldn’t it be great if we could go straight back to exhibiting at trade shows as we all once had without skipping a beat? Unfortunately, that option isn’t exactly in the playbook. The trade show industry will have to take great measures to ensure the safety of its guests moving forward. Big changes are needed. Thankfully, there was a recent trade show addressing this exact obligation for change in the future.
Orlando, Florida’s Orange County Convention Center held an innovative trade show called Together Again Expo. Their goal? To advance the trade show industry toward safe, smart, and secure events. This event held on July 24, 2020, gave those in the industry an opportunity to reunite and explore new possibilities for the future of exhibiting. Click here to view the wrap-up video
Two members of the Skyline team, Wayne Litsky and Thomas Fabbrini, had the opportunity to attend this event and get an inside look at the changes that we can expect to see coming.
Litsky has been with Skyline since 1996. He joined the trade show industry nearly 24 years ago as Controller and CFO of Skyline Displays in New York City. Ten years later, he was recruited to become a partner in the Skyline dealership handling South Florida and the Caribbean. His extensive trade show involvements make him a great authority to speak on what he experienced at the Together Again Expo.
Here’s what Wayne Litsky had to say about Together Again Expo:“Attending the “Together Again Expo” was promising and concerning at the same time. I stayed at The Hyatt Orlando and the staff was friendly, the rooms were extraordinarily clean, and I felt safe. When Friday morning arrived and it was time to attend the show, the excitement was building as my team and I did not know what to expect. When we arrived at the Orange County Convention Center, we were greeted by a friendly staff member wearing a mask. They were required to take our temperature before entering the building. If all was good, we were allowed to enter. It was non-invasive, harmless, and made us feel good that this was their starting point. Once in the convention center, I pulled up my electronic ticket from my Apple wallet which was scanned so that I could just pick up my badge at a manned Kiosk.
Along with my badge, the show provided a face covering and a single-use hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer was great but unnecessary due to the sheer volume of hand sanitizer stations located throughout the venue.
The entrance and exit to the show were “one-way only” so the inbound and outbound attendees did not need to cross paths. Once inside the show hall, there were clear markings on the flooring indicating the flow of traffic which were all “one-way” down each aisle. Everyone wore their masks and I felt safe (I actually felt safer at the show than I do at my local supermarket).
As for other areas of the show hall, chairs set up were spaced 6 feet apart near the keynote speakers, and tables by the concessions had even greater spacing.
While the attendance was less than I would have hoped, it definitely was a good start for our industry and encouraging that, in my opinion, trade shows can operate as safe or safer than the major retail stores are doing.
While we have a long way to go, the trade show industry needed to start somewhere, and bringing the live-event industry professionals together for a show at this uncertain time is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Litsky’s experience seemed to be overall positive, but he sees the long road ahead that this industry faces to getting back to where we once were.
Thomas Fabbrini, Service Manager of Skyline Central Florida also stated his thoughts on the overall experience of this recent event.
Here’s what Thomas Fabbrini had to say about Together Again Expo:“It certainly was nice to see people, LIVE and in-person, attending a trade show. There is something special and very intangible when folks from the trade show community can get together. We saw friendly faces and folks that were genuinely excited to be there or just working again. I lost count of how many times I heard, “it sure is nice to be back.”
To kick off the Together Again Expo, Mayor Jerry Demings – Mayor of Orange County, spoke. He stated his understanding of the importance of getting people in the service community back to work. Orlando of all places knows how important high-quality service is to the trade show and tourism industry. When speaking about the event, he stated, “This should stand for the model for the country and perhaps all over the globe.”
As for the attendance at the event, I would classify it as fair. There were not a lot of people walking about, but there were enough to feel like a trade show was taking place. When walking up to the show, only seeing a handful of people walking in was a bit concerning. We did not wait in line to get our tickets or have our temperature checked. However, upon entering the event, we did see quite a few people inside.
As we walked into the event, there were some obvious changes: The Plexi at the ticket counter, the temperature check, and having to wear a sticker saying “I’m Cool” (signifying no fever). Most of the aisles were directional and there was significant signage stating rules surrounding COVID-19. Specifically, you were to stay 6 feet apart. Also, shaking hands was not allowed, and of course, you had to wear your face mask during the event.
There were quite a few vendors attempting to sell products for the prevention of COVID-19 such as thermometers and scanners, cleaning equipment, plexiglass, and signage. As one would expect, there were trade show companies presenting their products and services.
Overall I enjoyed the event and very glad to see the industry “start-up” again.”
To summarize…Both Fabbrini and Litsky’s final comments seem to be in agreement; that there is great hope for the future of trade shows beginning to start back up in the right direction. As the Together Again Expo event page explains, it’s important that the industry navigates these initial steps together. We at Skyline hope that through these events and others just like it, that innovative thought leadership can push us toward new best practices, new technology, and new services. Finding ways to educate and spread awareness about the steps needed to bring back in-person networking, while keeping all event-goers safe and well.
Skyline cannot wait until we are TOGETHER AGAIN and we’re very glad to see this expo as a step in the right direction for the trade show industry.