How will Covid-19 impact exhibitions?

Published by Aimee Boschier | 13/05/2021

After a year like no other, we look forward to the world of events and exhibitions restarting in 2021.

Is your business ready for in-person events? What should you consider in a post-Covid era, and how are you planning which events you attend in 2021 and beyond. What has changed? What do delegates want? How do we deliver?

With so many things to consider, read on for some of our tips to boost your business’ success!


As one of the leading businesses in the events industry, we are excited by the opportunity we see as a result of the pandemic. What a unique and one off (we all hope!) industry reset & opportunity to refresh and reboot brands and experiences to new and existing customers.

The nation and our industry has really shown our metal, and delivered examples of British entrepreneurialism at its best as we have strived to succeed and pivot where needed.

Never before has there been such an opportunity to do better for customers and for the industry, and to rethink how to do things and to reconnect with customers in a new way.

It’s been a tough year but those that have come through will be more streamlined and efficient, will have picked up new skills and shown their resiliency, plus be motivated and excited to come back fighting.

We believe visitors and exhibitors will be keen to engage person to person, to go to new places, see new things. Relationship building that has been missing with zoom over such a long time has led to a pent-up demand to reconnect not just with customers but own teams. This could lead to a boom for marketing experiences beyond digital.

What should you consider in your planning?

Find your show’s purpose

The purpose of the show you are attending has never been so important. With businesses relying on other channels to reach customers over the previous year, there must be a very compelling reason to get your customers to your stand.

Driving lead generation digitally has been a huge focus for all of us, where increasing investment and building marketing strategies around it in 2020 have been key.

That said, the value of the face-to-face conversation and relationship build has fallen by the wayside, as well as the tangible benefits of getting your product directly into the hands of customers.

The appetite of getting away from the home desk and in front of a real person is definitely there, but we must give that delegate a real benefit to attend, either via positive conversations or in-person demonstration and knowledge which you will never truly attain through a website, zoom meeting or video.

Giving confidence to exhibit as well as attend

Visitors and exhibitors will make a more considered choice before attending any event so pre-event communications as well as a stellar experience when they get on your stand will be essential.

Exhibitors will also need convincing. They will want more information, a guaranteed ROI on their spend which may have been diverted elsewhere in the last year.

There may also be some nervousness to overcome before commitment. There is a potential perceived risk of cancellation if things change, but also because they haven’t spent in this sector for over a year so they will be more analytical.

So much is unknown about the appetite to return to large scale exhibition halls. We must give clients and attendees compelling reasons to show up. Some sectors have been more resilient than others; food and drinks, toys, DIY and video games for example have all seen multi-digit growth, especially via e-commerce business. Ultimately this could impact marketing plans as things resettle post lockdown.

And although there is a risk of reduced spend, not everyone has tightened their belts, but everybody is focussed on return on their £££s whilst also making a statement against their competition.

In the short term we foresee a reduced footfall at events, and a changed attitude to exhibitions specifically as a marketing tool. This will force exhibition design to be more creative on a budget.

Suppliers should look at alternative options such as rental models to help with cash flow, modular builds for wider usage, and be as flexible as possible to show the value of working with experts in this area.

Supply and demand in 2021!

2021 will be tricky. We don’t see events getting back to something like normal until 2022.

Q3 and Q4 are going to be busy. As a result, resources are a concern and have to be well thought through.

We are already heavy with requests from existing and new clients which bodes well, and our T3 modular system is a perfect weapon for mitigating this as it allows us to deliver our best service and deliver quickly with less people at multiple sites.

Confidence is key

With many events rescheduled and running at the same time not only will logistics be key for suppliers with multiple events running, but also getting share of voice for each event will be harder with delegates as their diary fills up.

Shorter lead times and less commitment to spend, on the back of unpredictable and ever changing show dates over the last year means less confidence to spend. So strong cancellation policies and clear communication of these will be essential.

Customers will want to leave it later and later before committing, further impacting lead times. Companies that are quicker to react, agile, flexible (such as ourselves), are well used to being able to manage this.

Offering a fast, easy to transport system that is quick to build such as our modular exhibition kits will allay some of these concerns.

Is social distancing here to stay at events?

Is there a long-term impact on attendee perception of social distancing precautions, and how do we design these and incorporate these so they don’t impact guest experience, making it feel unnatural?

Look at ways you can use them to your advantage for additional messaging / eyeballs. Tecna UK were the first to offer completely branded hand sanitisers which can be distributed in a non-invasive way around your event.

Will systems such as one way flows affect desirable hall positioning for example? How do we manage that and how does the stand design work to allow for shorter engagement times if needed? Will guests, particularly overseas, expect additional HSE compliant signage, sanitisers, potentially screening for queue management?

Clients will want to deliver this if needed, in a way that’s clean and professional but also on brand (our products from Tecnacare have you covered there!)

Winning the customer on the day

Customer engagement at your event has never been so important. Does the world still want free SWAG, incentives to sign up there and then or things as simple as business cards or flyers to take away?

We need to cleverly consider this through innovative stand design and ideas when there is going to be a potential hesitancy around person-to-person interaction.

Exhibitors should follow up digitally to maximise the sales message and continue to build the customer relationship.

How can Tecna support this?

We have a team of highly expert designers and marketers to help support this. As skilled and forward-thinking problem solvers, one of the positives of the pandemic is this pause has given us chance to reassess how we do things and how we amplify those sales contacts, whether it be through tools for the event itself or the use of technology to reset conversation – scannable QR codes on the booth vs USB sticks loaded with a sales deck which is out of date once you leave the stand.

Keeping it green

Sustainability and reuse on the back of the positive impact this last year has had on climate, and the obvious impact of reduced movement, cannot be ignored, it cannot be lip service anymore from a business but an expected norm.

We were already in a strong position to deliver on this with our T3 modular system which is reusable, reconfigurable and cost-effective to transport, and will continue to focus on it as a business.

With brands placing more attention on improving their corporate social responsibility practices, not least to align with the demands of contemporary consumers, if there were an industry where enacting change in this regard could create real impact, it’d be in the exhibitions industry, where the use of unsustainable materials and inefficient energy sources is still prevalent.

Within exhibitions, brands turn up to showcase all that is good about their products or services in an effort to attract buyers. So, standing out as a force for good and showing consumers that sustainability is on their agenda too, presents an opportunity for exhibition stands and display suppliers to support their efforts.

Quick to react, quick to adapt

Businesses who pivoted quickly in 2020 can capitalise on this by being ‘fit for purpose’ in 2021 – our TecnaCare product offer for example, a range of social distancing products and what it offers to give customers confidence at  exhibitions and events is a ready-made solution. It delivers a variety of bespoke products and services to protect your business in a range of spaces, and this includes exhibitions, be it from simple tools such as hand sanitisers to sneeze screens and reception area guards .

Embracing a wider use of technology across the board is also key, whose kid knows how to zoom their grandparents now? This period has impacted how we connect and deliver solutions.

Now expected as standard is the use of successful project management tools for delivery on time and on budget, and so everyone is on the same page on what is needed and when – both internally from a supplier perspective, but also to keep the client on track.

Brilliant basics – what we can all do to deliver best in class

  • Be proactive, reconnect with customers – use best-in-class digital tools but also be personal, pick up the phone and find out more
  • Be creative, challenge the norm
  • Ask WHY & SO WHAT – define key goals for any activity
  • Deliver the best – long-term confidence will come from quality
  • Question more, try new things and be adaptable
  • Work together, be more understanding, communicate openly
  • Remember the HUMAN element in all we do

Simeon Wicks, Owner of Tecna UK Ltd.

“There are green shoots everywhere in 2021, positivity breeds positivity and the UK has the best entrepreneurs and business leaders around who can pave the way. Tecna UK has been nimble and effective in pivoting the business to ensure we are fit for business in 2021. We can’t wait to be back doing what we do best, and also showing everyone what we have learned, how we have adapted and what we can do.

“We are proud to be part of such a resilient industry, where everyone has pulled together and applied their skills to such a range of different things in order to weather the storm. We are ready to get going again, and to do better for our resellers and customers than ever before. Our promise of ‘We make it happen’ has never been so important a mantra as it is today.”

Continue the conversation – join us on the socials to discuss further or call 01932 570770 and one of our experts will be happy to help.

Tecna UK, the UK’s leading Modular display Manufacturer and Event Contractor

We are Tecna UK Ltd. We deliver a service, and display possibilities, which are completely tailored to a client’s requirements. From the supply of T3 components right through to our full service turnkey production service, we take pride in our ability to solve problems for our clients and your customers.

In 2007 we launched the T3 modular display system, creating sustainable, reconfigurable and economical exhibition stands fitting between traditional modular systems that feature your logos and other messaging, and traditional wooden bespoke stands that allow you to have a seamless graphic display but require more budget, are not very sustainable and logistically generate a large carbon footprint.

We are a trusted supplier to the event industry, either under the Tecna name or in conjunction with the show organiser. As a trusted supplier to the industry we work with stand contractors as part of a contractor service, or as a single supplier for custom exhibition services depending on the clients or customer requirements. Everything from exhibition stands, conference sets, retail displays, entrance features, registration desks, point of sale, photobooths, experiential displays, counters and bars – the possibilities are endless.

It is the combination of our product capability, service expertise and range of services which adds real value for money and keeps our clients returning year on year. We offer a range of services to produce stunning display solutions for a wide variety of environments and clients across the globe. We are now recognised as the UK’s leading modular exhibition stand builders.

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