Go LIVE Together – Speeding the Safe Return of the Tradeshow Industry

by | May 18, 2020

As a company that has a big stake in the tradeshow and live events industry, we’re as eager as our customers to see its safe return. To support that goal, we’ve joined Go LIVE Together – a coalition of over 4,000 companies with operations in the U.S. who are working together to speed the industry’s recovery from COVID-19. But before we go into that, let’s talk about why we believe this is so important and how we see the future of our industry unfolding.

Why This Is Important
Obviously tradeshows are important to us. But beyond that tradeshows and related events are an incredibly important part of how business gets done around the world. Just about everything you’ve ever bought started its life at a tradeshow or event somewhere. The floor in your kitchen. The TV on your wall and the device you’re reading this on. Tradeshows serve as the launch pad for new products and technologies. They connect people with people, buyers with sellers, and businesses with other businesses in a way nothing else can.

But their import doesn’t stop there. The exhibit and live events industry – before the virus largely shut it down – was getting bigger every year in terms of dollars spent and just about every other measure. Check out some of these pre-virus stats for the U.S. tradeshow and events business:

  • Over 11,000 events annually – both B2C (business to consumer) and B2B (business to business)
  • Over $100 billion in spending by marketers – 80% of whom believe events are critical for their success
  • Almost $1 trillion in sales generated annually
  • The industry directly employs over 3 million workers including many of the people at Art Guild
  • And helps support millions more – like airline employees, hotel and restaurant workers, Uber drivers – even the folks who make beer koozies and stress balls

How the Industry Will Come Back
So, yeah, tradeshows are really important. And the good news is that they will be back bigger than before. That’s not in doubt. But what we don’t know is exactly how and when that will happen. But we do believe it will happen in two very different phases.

Phase One
In this phase people are released from quarantine into a still risky world – most likely in stages as we’re seeing right now. Here event managers and exhibitors will have to entice attendees back by establishing a series of protocols that will make attendees feel safe. These protocols which Go LIVE Together will help set will include things like:

      • Rules for attendee flow management and enforced physical distancing
      • Safer booth design
      • Cleaning, sanitization and disinfecting procedures for the venues and exhibits
      • Sanitization stations (like the ones we’re designing – stay tuned for more on this)
      • Health screenings like temperature checks for exhibitors and attendees
      • At home registration and badge printing to reduce the need for contact at the show

Phase Two
In this phase, the world sees little or no risk from the Coronavirus thanks to a combination of things like an effective, available treatment and vaccine. Here we believe people will largely return to pre-virus behaviors – eagerly going back to tradeshows, concerts, restaurants, museums and retail stores. And history supports this. This isn’t the world’s first pandemic (although it seems that way to most of us) and people have always been willing to crowd back into rooms with each other when they see the risk has largely gone.

How Go Live Together Works
So now let’s return to the Go LIVE Together coalition. It’s many diverse members are bound together by the belief that nothing in the world will ever replace the power of live events and are committed to work together to pursue this three-part mission:

  • To establish standards and protocols for the safe return of the tradeshow and live events industry
  • To advocate for local, state, and federal recovery legislation and funding that will kick-start that return at a time when many marketers, venues and and attendees are strapped for cash
  • And in the meantime, to use the industry’s considerable expertise to help support the people on the frontlines in any way it can  from building ventilators and PPE, to setting up temporary medical and testing facilities

What will Art Guild’s role be? For now, we’ll continue to advocate for the coalition and the speedy, safe return of an industry that we have supported for over 90 years. As Go LIVE Together fomalizes its plans and builds momentum, we have volunteered our support and stand ready to answer the call. Stay tuned for updates in the coming days and weeks.