4 Foundations for Successful Industry Events in the New Normal

January 6, 2022

Sarin Bachmann

Sarin Bachmann is the Group Vice President of RX Jewelry Group. Included in her portfolio are JCK, Luxury, JIS events, as well as JCK Magazine, the new digital marketplace, Jewelers Source by JCK, and the educational hub subscription service, JCK Pro. 

Pandemic-related shifts in both company protocols and consumer behaviors have forever changed the ways in which we come together for industry events such as trade shows and seminars, or consumer marketing events like expos, conferences and festivals. The unprecedented global shutdowns have reinforced the need for in-person events, while simultaneously creating new challenges for event organizers. Achieving your event goals is now more difficult than ever. But when these obstacles are properly overcome, in-person events can also be more rewarding than ever. In the fine jewelry industry, we had exhibitors reporting record-breaking commerce at our show this past year.

Here are four foundations we discovered that will ensure successful industry events in this new “normal.” 

1.         Prepare for multiple scenarios.

Stay informed and assign a point person to keep track of local and national health and safety requirements. Work closely with your venue, health experts and your legal team as guidance changes and keep your websites updated as the rules change. Do your best to plan backup dates for your event, with schedules negotiated in advance whenever possible with the venue and cancellation policies clearly defined in all contracts.  

Work closely with your venue partners as circumstances change. Strategize with your management team regularly and be prepared to adjust the format of your event. As an example, we worked closely with our valued venue partners at The Venetian who helped us shift dates from June to August in 2021, back when that seemed a good idea at the time! Then when planning for our August in-person event, we prepared double drafts of all communications and signage (e-blasts, press releases, copy for website) to be ready for multiple mask mandate scenarios, pending CDC guidelines. That type of strategic preparation assures flexibility for quick reactions and implementation and helped us greatly when the Delta variant started becoming a big concern just weeks before our show. 

Event producers must always be thinking about alternative scenarios and be ready to adapt as needed. This also relates to planning multiple ways to engage with your audienceplan for in-person but also have a strategy for those who are not able to attend in person for whatever reason. 

2.         Perfect remote teams and virtual customer contact. 

Virtual connections are here to stay, and the technology continues to improve, making it even more practical. Remote teams are now the new normal. Customer video/virtual interactions are also increasingly popular. To become a leader in any industry today, it is imperative that you make yourself and your team available. Focus time and attention on keeping your team motivated and engaged even when not able to be face-to-face and do the same with your customers. Invest in proven technology to ensure seamless interactions for your staff and your clientele. For both event planning and actual production, offer the flexibility of virtual meetings or appointments, allowing your exhibitors, attendees or customers to meet how and when they prefer. Video conferencing creates effective personal touch points, even if some attendees cannot meet or attend in person. 

Consider archiving high-quality content (such as keynote addresses) for longevity beyond the live event dates. Online content can enhance your SEO and strengthen overall event engagement 

3.         Learn and share.

We keep saying that we are “all in this together,” and it’s true. Be sure to learn from events that came before you. Read the trade headlines in your industry, attend networking events with other event producers, join forums or groups on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to hear how others are overcoming obstacles or to avoid making the same mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or get advice from others in your industry. Take notes at the events you attendwhat worked from your perspective, what didn’t. As our jewelry team launched the first RX U.S .show post-pandemic in March 2021, our team attended and learned from other trade show organizers’ shows in different industries to evaluate health and safety measures put in place and how they worked in practice. We then shared our learnings with many that came after us, both within RX globally and with other show organizers. We welcomed each other at events, happy to share learnings and help bring in-person events back for everyone. 

As you gather valuable information, tips and dos and don’ts, be willing to share. Sharing of best practices will ultimately help us all find creative ways to continue getting together in person safely. The more comfortable people feel attending live events, the better for all of us and commerce in general.

4.         Evolve and take risksquickly. 

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Don’t wait for a sunny day; now is the time to explore. Take risks and be creative. As you brainstorm new ideas, always be thinking about how your brand or the format of your event can evolve to better serve your customers or your audience. When we made the difficult decision to postpone our jewelry industry spring trade shows in 2020, we knew we had to react quickly and think outside the box. We accelerated new launches, including our first virtual show at the height of the pandemic; a subscription-based, members-only forum for professional content within the jewelry industry; and a year-round virtual marketplace for sourcing, powered by best-in-class video meeting technology from BOSS Logics, all of which produced great learning that is helping us to shape our 2022 offerings and events. 

Manage expectations as you launch new ideas and know that all great inventions and discoveries go through a learning curve. Don’t be afraid to fail. If your first virtual or hybrid event does not achieve the results you hoped for, learn from it, evolve and come back stronger with a new idea the next time.  

To sum up: Plan for surprises, learn quickly, share what you learn, get very good at going remote and evolve. Do it all with efficiency and courage. When you keep things positive and proactive, you can solve your customers’ problems before they even arise. That type of management creates loyalty and satisfaction and helps build a better marketplace for all.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.