Trade shows offer businesses the perfect opportunity to showcase their services and products to potential customers. A well-planned and managed trade show can enable a company to meet potential customers, thus generating strong sales leads. The same cannot be said of a poorly-planned trade show. While planning a show, it’s essential to identify risks that stand in the way of its success.
It would help if you kept in mind that planning a show is no different from managing a project, thus identifying all the inherent risks. In 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic has shown us just how vulnerable the trade show industry is to crises. It will take some time before the industry fully recovers, but moving forward, having a risk management plan will go a long way in safeguarding your trade show from similar disruptions.
What Risks Do Trade Shows Face?
Risk is inherent in all activities, including trade shows. Anything can happen anytime, irrespective of the risk mitigation strategies you have in place. The most critical trade shows-related risk factors are:
- Regulatory Risks
What are the local, state, federal, and industry regulations that your events should adhere to? How do the regulations affect your trade show and event cancellation?
- Contractual Risks
What contract clauses do you have with event vendors such as the venue management company, technology providers, and the production company?
- Branding/Public Image Risks
Will hosting, canceling, or any other action you take affect your organization’s brand and public image? In this regard, ensure that the trade show aligns with your organization’s corporate image.
- Payment Risks
What measures do you have in place to ensure that all payments made by attendees and exhibitors are accounted for?
- Security and Safety Risks
Unforeseen conditions such as political uprisings, health scares, and natural disasters can occur anytime and disrupt your trade show. These events demand crisis preparedness. Do you have measures for mitigating/eliminating them?
As the trade show industry recovers from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s best for trade show planners to learn how to identify, analyze, evaluate, avoid, mitigate, minimize, or eliminate the risks.
Trade show planners should be ready to act quickly to eliminate unacceptable risks before they disrupt their events. Having a robust risk management plan helps to address situations that could end up being disruptive. It’s best to keep in mind that the stakes will be higher when planning a big event as far as risk is concerned.
Trade Show Risk Management
According to PwC, the global trade show industry will be worth $16.8 billion in 2021. However, risks such as the COVID-19 crisis pose a significant danger to organizers. Many trade shows that were slated for 2020 have either been postponed or canceled altogether. Heading into 2012, one question lingers; how can trade show organizers mitigate the risks they face? Here’s how you can successfully manage the risks you face:
Undertake Risk Assessment
Risk characterizes both small and big trade shows. To map out the risks that your trade show faces, it’s essential to conduct a risk assessment. Evaluate everything related to your trade show, including event location and even travel itineraries. In this regard, you should ask yourself these key questions:
- What are the risks of hosting the trade show?
- Do you have a cancellation clause with the event’s vendors?
- Is the trade show insured?
- What does the insurance policy cover?
Once you have answers to these questions, you’ll be able to gauge the potential impact of disruptive events on your trade show. Likewise, it will be easier to assign degrees of urgency to each of the risks you identified.
Revisit Your Cancellation Policy
Staging a trade show is expensive, even though these events are sources of revenue for your organizations. When risks become crises, your event will undoubtedly take a hit, which translates into monetary implications.
While undertaking risk planning, don’t forget to revisit your cancellation policy regarding sponsors, exhibitors, and sponsors. Have a clear picture of what money you’ll set aside to refund each group in case you cancel your trade show and how that will impact your revenue streams and cash flows.
Once you’ve evaluated your cancellation policy and refunds that you may have to make, decide whether it will be appropriate to cancel your event, postpone it, or take it virtual. Each of these options has its pros and cons. The decision you’ll make depends on the size of your event and the number of expected attendees.
The trade show industry has taken a significant hit in 2020. Planners should find ways of incorporating risk management into event planning to avert a similar situation in 2020. Risk planning in trade shows is all about agility, flexibility, and preparation. Anticipating risks and forecasting their operational impacts will enable you to implement systems and processes for responding to them effectively if they occur.
Jordan MacAvoy is the Vice President of Marketing at Reciprocity Labs and manages the company’s go-to-market strategy and execution. Prior to joining Reciprocity, Mr. MacAvoy served in executive roles at Fundbox, a Forbes Next Billion Dollar Company, and Intuit, via their acquisition of the SaaS marketing and communications solution, Demandforce.