It has been a tough year for exhibitions, with all live events cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, resulting in virtual events being the only option. Whilst virtual events have their uses, nothing beats the chance to network and mix with others in the industry. However, with restrictions being lifted, business events are set to return this Autumn, which is great news for both exhibitors and visitors. Events bring professionals together and also connect them to associations and sponsors which can generate quantifiable benefits and increased loyalty. All event venues are now open and no longer have to implement capacity limits or social distancing measures.
One of the first to take place is the Autumn Fair – the UK’s premier gift and home show for the retail industry, on 5-8 September 2021 at NEC Birmingham. It will be the first time the home and gift retail industry has been able to come together for 18 months and promises to be quite an event. With the newly co-located Moda fashion and footwear event, Autumn Fair will offer three new key shopping destinations – Home, Gift and Fashion. Curated meetings will facilitate contact between suppliers and retailers at the show.
Also going ahead, after some doubt, is DSEI, the largest global defence and security exhibition. It is being held at Excel, London, from 14-17 September 2021. There had been fears that international travellers would not be able to attend this year, but now that the government has removed the need to quarantine for vaccinated visitors from Europe and the USA this opens the door to visitors worldwide.
For those who cannot attend in person, the DSEI Connect virtual event platform will enable them to fully participate remotely. DSEI Connect provides all registered participants (whether attending in person or virtually) access to live-streamed and on-demand content as well as the ability to identify and arrange virtual or in-person meetings with potential business partners.
Interplas, the UK’s leading plastics industry event, is being held at the NEC from 28-30 September. In its 70th year, Interplas 2021 will see more than 350 exhibitors present solutions, products, machines, and ideas from across the entire spectrum of moulding and forming machines as well as materials, automation, contract manufacturing and supporting technologies including software, testing, inspection, surface treatments and much more.
The NACFB Commercial Finance Expo will return to Birmingham’s NEC on Thursday 30 September 2021. The award-winning, flagship event presents the commercial lending community with the opportunity to meet face-to-face once again.
The Packing Innovations and Luxury Packaging Show will take place at Olympia, London, from 1-2 December 2021, reconnecting the packaging community. This is the leading event for inspirational and bespoke packaging. It provides a platform for the industry that delivers valuable connections and unforgettable experiences for visitors and exhibitors alike.
Event organisers are taking precautions – wider aisles to allow for social distancing; increased cleaning; mask-wearing and hand sanitising are some of the measures being put in place to ensure the safety of visitors. Some require proof of a double vaccination or negative COVID-19 test.
There is still some doubt about whether it will be mandatory for attendees of business events to have to demonstrate proof of a double vaccination. From the end of September visitors to nightclubs and “crowded venues” will have to show proof of 2 vaccinations. Whether this will include business events is still up for debate, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi says sporting and business events, music venues and festivals are the settings that ministers are “most concerned about” when it comes to the spread of COVID-19, in addition to nightclubs.
The cessation of large scale events caused hardship for many businesses associated with the industry. Not all of them survived, those that have will have proved that they are strong enough to weather the storm. One such company is Quadrant2Design, MD Alan Jenkins said “It’s been a tough 18 months, we had to completely shut down, retaining only a few key staff members. But now that things are opening up again we are starting to see the orders flooding in, thankfully. This has meant recruiting and training large numbers of new staff, but it’s great to see things getting back to normal”.
So, it’s very exciting for those associated with the exhibition industry to see trade shows and business events restarting. Hopefully, vaccination levels mean we have seen the last lockdown so these events can continue. We have certainly missed them over the last 18 months so let’s hope things continue to improve.
Written by Caroline Grey, a Content Writer with a wide variety of experience across a number of different industry sectors.