How were you able to adapt during COVID-19 when the meeting and events industry got disrupted?
We consider ourselves very lucky that we were able to hold our 2020 event as it was held the first week of February, just weeks before the pandemic hit. We were at an all-time high, it was the 20th Anniversary of IPC APEX EXPO and we were just named the fastest-growing association show for attendance in the United States by Tradeshow News Network (TSNN). Little did we know, our world would come crashing down.
As we witnessed so many shows cancelling for the remainder of 2020 and with restrictions across the world, we monitored the situation very closely. We quickly assembled a core team within our organization to develop various contingency plans; postponement to later in the year with a hybrid component, cancellation, or going fully virtual. Although we were successful in postponing the event, the uncertainty of holding an in-person event was still looming as COVID cases began to surge once again. Thankfully we were already planning for a hybrid component for our in-person event, so it was easier for us to transition to a fully virtual event, which is ultimately what happened.
Fortunately for us, our virtual event took place in March of this year, which gave us plenty of time to research and experience several other virtual events that had already taken place during the pandemic to determine what worked and what didn’t work. From our lessons learned, we developed a variety of opportunities for our exhibitors to provide better ROI, offered on-demand access so attendees could learn and attend at their own pace and created a personnel connection between exhibitors and attendees through content driven matchmaking.
Although I would never want to experience this again, I was very proud of our quickly our team assembled to work through this challenging time together. If we can get through this, we can get through anything.
This post is part of the HopSkip Planner Spotlight Series where we celebrate the positivity and optimism shown by planners across the industry when navigating the turbulent waters that COVID-19 has brought the meetings and events industry. Keep an eye out as we release more stories like this over the next few months.