Planning ahead is always a great best practice. Here are some beneficial ideas with events like CEDIA Expo on the near horizon.
Have Supplies On-Hand: Exhibitors should have Covid rapid tests, masks for staff, and hand sanitizer in the booth during booth build, during the show, and during tear down so you’re not running out to a pharmacy to get them. Communicate in advance of the show to your team what the expectation or protocol is should someone start experiencing symptoms of Covid or actually come down with it during the show. Exhibitors, be ready for your booth build or tear-down teams to get sick and be ready to bring in alternate resources. Attendees, it’s a good idea to bring supplies with you. There’s nothing worse than feeling sick and having to hop in a cab to get a test. Or accidentally grabbing the germ-infested escalator handrail and then realizing you don’t have hand sanitizer on you. Many airports don’t even carry masks in their gift shops anymore, so bring them with you; don’t expect them to be available at the airport, hotel, or convention center.
Have a Quarantine Policy: Exhibitors should determine who pays for extended hotel stays and what the arrangements for employees will be should they have to go to the hospital. Communicate this to your team well in advance of the show. If you are an attendee, you also need a contingency plan in case you have to quarantine. Consider adding insurance to your flight booking. Do you have enough funds to spring for an extended stay? What will your family do if you don’t return on time? How about your pets?
Mask Appropriately: If you start to experience symptoms or have been around someone who has, mask up, buttercup. It’s a touchy subject and a personal decision for each individual, but, at the very least, kindness and consideration should reign supreme. Our community is close-knit and, for many, masks are still a necessity. Someone wearing a mask could have their own health concerns outside of Covid or need to protect a loved one with compromised health. Be respectful of what you may not know. If someone wears a mask into your booth or at a meeting you’re in, put on a mask if you’re going to be in close proximity to them out of courtesy. And never, ever, be a mask shamer. Respect people’s personal choices for their own health and safety.
Take Precautions With Communal Food Options: Any food provided in booths should be individually wrapped — that stack of cookies on a catering tray that people grab from is still not a great idea. Oh, and that plate of calamari or loaf of bread everyone is grabbing with their hands and sharing during dinner? Use a fork, spoon, or knife to get your serving to your plate rather than your hands.
Make Your Health a Priority: In pre-pandemic times, we would run ourselves absolutely ragged at tradeshows. Walking miles in uncomfortable shoes, piling meeting after meeting after meeting, and then topping it all off with dinners and parties that last into the wee hours. Now, it’s time to put your health first. Hydrate. Get a good night’s sleep. Go outside and get some fresh air. Take time for yourself when you feel overwhelmed. Eat well. (Speaking of which, we’ll be reviving our “Dining in Dallas” blog from a few years ago, so drop me a line if you have suggestions.) In short, take better care of yourself.
The point is, we simply can’t avoid Covid, it’s part of our reality and will be for some time with new, more transmissible variants a constant threat. We don’t need to live in fear, but as a community, we should all have a plan in place and do our part to help everyone get through events with their health intact. It’s really the least we all can do to ensure events continue and that our industry prospers.
Katye McGregor Bennett is chief strategist and CEO of KMB Communications and an avid podcaster. Podcasts include Connecting Tech + Design and AV Trade Talk.