Trade shows after Covid are different. People have varying degrees of comfort. You need to cater to all of them.
Trade shows after Covid have changed. Possibly forever. While infection numbers have receded and vaccines have improved outcomes considerably, there are still many people who will feel uncomfortable in large crowds.
Don’t assume that just because someone is at a trade show they are ready to interact with it in the same way they might have prior to Covid-19. Instead, think of ways you can make your booth and your behavior inviting to people with varying comfort levels.
Consider Wearing a Mask
There are pros and cons to wearing a mask at your trade show booth that goes beyond reducing your risk of infection. On the one hand, there are probably going to be some people at the trade show who will be hesitant to step up to your booth if you aren’t masked up.
On the other, masks can make it difficult to communicate with the same level of clarity you might prefer. Words get lost behind the material, and you lose something in not being able to communicate with facial expressions as well as words.
You may decide that wearing a mask the entire time you’re at your booth isn’t advisable. It’s still a smart idea to at least have them on hand. This way if a visitor approaches your booth in a mask, you can mirror them and make them feel more comfortable by putting on one yourself. You can then consider taking it off in situations where it feels appropriate to do so.
Put Hand Sanitizer On Your Table
Having hand sanitizer handy is a courtesy that many businesses have adopted since the start of the pandemic. Do it. The expense is small, the impact is genuine, and people will appreciate it.
Don’t Initiate Handshakes Right Away
Handshakes are, of course, quite standard and normal at trade shows. While most people will probably be fine with them, it’s a good idea to get a read on the person you are speaking with before you stick your hand out.
While you’re probably not going to make or break any deals with a handshake, you do run the risk of making people uncomfortable, which certainly isn’t the vibe you are going for with your trade show booth.
Fist bumps have also come a long way culturally and no longer are cringy and awkward like they were 15 years ago. These days you can summon your inner Howie Mandel without fear.
Mind Your Distance
As with handshakes, it’s natural and quite expected to assume a relatively close distance with people you are talking to. In trade shows, there can even be a practical necessity to this—the convention halls can be quite loud, and a degree of proximity will often be required to have a clear conversation.
Once again, it’s important to gauge the comfort level of the person you are speaking with. Let your visitor take the lead. This is particularly easy if you are behind a table. If you’re in a more dynamic space, make sure you are aware of your visitor and notice if they step backwards as you step forwards and if so, give them some room.
Think of Covid Friendly Engagement Techniques
It’s a good idea to have some form of a hook at your booth. A game or giveaway that draws people in. While this is still important, it may be advisable to look for ways to accomplish it without physical contact.
We recommend having a Spin Wheel for Trade Shows. This game can be accessed through smartphones by scanning a QR code, allowing participants to have fun while avoiding physical contact with any shared devices.
Trade Shows After Covid: Conclusion
Trade shows post-Covid are all about courtesy. While the steps you’ll be forced to take may require a degree of effort, they aren’t anything new. By being mindful of people’s comfort levels, you make your booth more approachable.