I’m sure I’m not the only one that has found the events scene pretty dire over the past 18 months, so it was great to walk the exhibition floor and spark up some conversations with people like the old days.
A part that I really enjoy about these sorts of events is chatting to other agency owners. I met a few who I hadn’t yet seen in person and it was refreshing to hear similar tales of how their businesses have been going through COVID times. Some highs, some lows, but always showing resilience in pushing through and aiming for service excellence.
One thing that struck me yesterday was that no matter what you do for fully online events, exhibitions like this just can’t be replicated over a virtual platform. Case in point is the random stuff that happens around you on the exhibition floor throughout the day: the next door stand running a competition that makes everyone turn their heads when someone gets the new high score (there was one across from us challenging people to hold a stein glass of beer out straight for as long as possible); the quiet times during talks where all the people running stands head over to each other’s to have a chat (I’m not here to sell, promise!); the before-the-public-arrives chats between businesses on the exhibition floor; the mixture of personality types kicking about and the insane ability of some more business savvy people to interact with you and pull you into their stand without you even realising it; the competitions and temptations to get you over to exhibition stands (Tunnock’s caramel wafer). And the people watching is great!
This event was also using something that seems to be becoming quite popular during COVID: traffic light systems. If you haven’t seen these yet, this is where you decide if you’re a red, amber or green in terms of physical distancing and socialising, and then selecting the appropriate lanyard. Yesterday’s was broken down in the following way: Green means you’re good for handshakes and hugs; amber means you’re keen to chat but stick to elbow bumps and some distance; red means you’d prefer to not engage and keep your distance. It’s quite an interesting concept and one that may even have a place outside of COVID times, which our marketing manager Tina picked up on. I can definitely think of events where I’d rather be in more of a read-only, non-interactive mode, and would be great for people to then be aware of that. Interestingly, I think the breakdown at yesterday’s event was probably around 1% wearing red, 20% wearing amber and the rest happy to have some handshakes and hugs. Can’t help but think there’s some really interesting data analysis from these sorts of decisions the public is being asked to make at larger events, and how it relates to public opinion.
All in all, a great day was had and some great conversations that we’ll be following up on since the event. Big shoutout to the team for pulling it together and my expo buddies, Tina and Rosie for the good chat during the downtime.