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Labor: Impact on Return of In-Person Trade Shows

By March 24, 2021No Comments
Labor impact on live events return

As states begin to lift COVID-19 mandates and restrictions, the return of live events and trade shows is just around the corner. And while we are all very excited to get back to face-to-face events, there are going to be some changes. We have been in discussions with many of our industry partners and there are some glass-half-full vs. glass-half-empty viewpoints among them.

Experienced Labor on the Show Floor

Some areas of concern that we’ve been looking at closely is the availability of qualified and experienced laborers on the show floor. The good news is the labor force for live events seems to be ready to get back to work.

Rick Bellerjeau, General Manager at Momentum Management commented, “The need for skilled, experienced labor was at an all-time high pre-pandemic.  Many laborers have had to find alternative work, but we see the majority of laborers for live events are ready to get back to doing great things on the show floor!”

The concern that there will be a shortage of qualified skilled labor, electricians and plumbers, stagehands, riggers, and audiovisual technicians is valid. Many good, skilled workers have had to take new jobs, leaving the industry for at least the time being. We are hopeful that many will return once the industry is back into full swing and not just for the benefits of those in our industry. Many other affiliated industries depend on trade shows and conventions. For example, hotel and restaurant workers, as well as cab drivers and airport personnel rely on conventioneers and show attendees. These large events bring in millions of dollars in revenue to the cities that host them.

Moving Forward

trade showWe are confident that live events and trade shows will return, and the industry will rebound in a big way. It’s important not to dwell on this past year but to plan ahead. We can expect a lot of changes as we all work together to get our industry safely back on its feet.

Rick from Momentum also had this comment, “We will see more safety protocols in place which will vary from venue to venue.  Adherence to these will be necessary to build consumer confidence that the attendees will be safe on a show floor.”

For example, the McCormick Place Customer Journey Plan has these requirements for laborers at in-person events:

  • New PPE protocols
  • Safety: instruction on proper use of masks
  • Health and Security ambassadors at shows
  • Encourage workers to wear lanyards with hand sanitizers
  • Limit number of workers riding on carts
  • Space out labor sign-in locations

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”  – Mark Twain

If you are planning on exhibiting at shows later this year, we strongly suggest that you get started now. As we get into the 3rd quarter, we are predicting a shortage of raw materials, longer lead times and increased prices.

The time is right, don’t delay. Contact us today.

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