Exhibition venues reopening for international trade fairs: upcoming on-site and virtual events

The intrinsic multitudinous nature of international exhibitions, trade shows, expos and conventions make them an almost unconceivable endeavour in the times of COVID-19. Notwithstanding that, event profs, organizers, exhibitors and buyers who had to unpack their bags and stay home in the spring of 2020 are in no way willing to quit what they do best an what they love. Everyone is hoping that business travel will gradually recover and that business fairs and conferences worldwide, as well as major networking events will still happen, only that in safer and less crowded environments, or even in virtual ones for that matter.

Since attending fairs and events remains an integral part of a wealthy global economy in spite of coronavirus, and is, as a matter of fact, a key requirement for safeguarding it precisely because of the impending economic downturn derived from it, most of the main exhibition centres and convention venues have made substantial investments in order to renovate their space, retrained their staff and transformed their customer handling methods for the sake of health and wellbeing. At the time of writing this post, some trade show facilities are serving as shelters, makeshift hospitals or testing sites to tackle the pandemic, others have reopened with limited activity and online events, while the reopening of those in severely affected regions are still subject to local restrictions on large gatherings.

Below, you will find a provisional overview of trade show venues reopening in Asia, North America, Europe and the United Arab Emirates, along with information on much-awaited international events that have had to be postponed due to COVID-19, redesigned as online events or which remain scheduled as onsite as initially planned subject to possible modifications.

Convention centres resuming the organization of trade fairs and events either virtually or onsite

Trade shows happening in Asia

The Canton Fair Complex in Guangzhou

Can you imagine finding new clients, acquiring services, closing deals, building new connections and doing business as a hosted buyer from the comfort of your home or office? This was recently made possible when the Canton Fair Complex in Guangzhou enabled online exhibitor rooms which can be accessed by visitors via virtual reality software. As was the case with the Lighting Exhibition which took place from October 10 to October 13 2020, the upcoming China Import & Export Fair will allow participants to register online and use their electronic IDs to visit exhibits and enter live streams.

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center (HKCEC)

The HKCEC in Hong Kong has announced “stringent preventive measures” to safeguard the wellbeing and health of both visitors and employees during these unprecedented times. The implemented actions ever since trade shows resumed include strict admission procedures for those who enter the venue, mandatory use of face masks and enhanced disinfection and ventilation. Some of the most notable events taking place in Hong Kong in November are the International Wedding and Banquet Expo, the Retail Asia Conference and Expo 2020 and Natural & Organic Asia.

Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre

While one of the most anticipated events of the year at Suntec Singapore –the Big Data & AI World SG- has been postponed until October 2021 and will be held at the Marina Bay Sands venue instead, other international conferences like the one on Advanced Nursing and Healthcare, a subject of paramount importance these days, is scheduled to take place onsite on October 26 and has not been cancelled.

Attending and registering for conventions in North America

Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada

LVCC has increased its hygiene and safety protocols, with a view to protecting staff and guests during upcoming events like the Digital Signage Expo in November 2020 and the Travel Goods Show in March 2021. Additionally, anyone who visits the exhibitions in Las Vegas must abide by strict rules regarding the use of face masks, social distancing, temperature checks and shared transport, and all served food will be wrapped individually and delivered by trained employees behind Plexiglass barriers.

San Diego Convention Center in California, USA

The home of the San Diego Comic Con is set to remain closed through December 2020, and its reopening will be subject to the local restrictions on mass events, as is the case with many other cities within and outside the United States. The facilities of the SDCC will see the hosting of the San Diego Spring Home Show, the Bridal Bazaar and the Equity Conference in early 2021, provided that it is allowed by then.

Miami Beach Convention Center in Florida

The Miami Beach Convention Center in Florida has undergone great renovation works to meet the mandatory requirements for social distancing, hygiene and safety, although it continues alternating between care facility, COVID-19 testing site and exhibition venue. Some highly anticipated shows taking place before the end of the year at the venue include Cruise World in November and Art Basel Miami in December.

Trade fairs resuming in Europe

Rho Fiera Milano in Italy

Trade shows and events in Milan, Italy, have recently resumed for both the Rho Fiera and the Milano City pavilions, only that some of its top events are being held online. For instance, visitors can register via web to attend the Salone Franchising Milano (International Retail Trade Fair), the Viscom conference will also happen online and the Games Week will be broadcast live on the fast-growing Twitch streaming platform.

Fira Barcelona

In the same line, the organization of Fira Barcelona in Catalonia is opting for the interactive modality in most of its events. Liber, for instance, will feature virtual exhibitors and buyers will be able to contact sellers via video chat; the Smart City Expo will have digital sessions and workshops, just as IBTM World in December. The Mobile World Congress is currently scheduled to take place between June 28 and July 4 2021 at the physical facilities.

IFEMA Feria de Madrid in the capital city of Spain

The IFEMA facilities in Madrid, Spain, recently ended their activity as makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients, and is now hard at work to make a comeback to the trade fair world with reduced capacity, strict social distancing and sanitation measures and mandatory use of face masks, but, most importantly, they are reinventing the whole IFEMA experience as an entirely contactless one thanks to the use of e-tickets, digital badges and their own app for exhibitors, hosted buyers and visitors to interact during a show.

Trade fairs in Germany: Düsseldorf Messe, Hannover Messe and Frankfurt Messe

Trade shows and exhibitions in Germany are already running virtually, physically and in the hybrid modality. Thus, Messe Düsseldorf is getting ready for an online edition of the World Forum for Medicine (MEDICA) in mid-November, while preparations for the onsite Valve World Expo, Wire and Promtex from December onwards are more focused on making the physical facilities safe. Likewise, Messe Hannover has announced that it will open its doors again in April 2021, working in close cooperation with the local health authorities and the nearby hospitality establishments, and featuring a more spacious layout that will allow for less crowded spaces. Messe Frankfurt, for their part, will go for multimodal, hybrid events like Hypermotion (November 10-12) or fully digital ones like Formnext, taking places on the same dates, following on the success of other major events which turned virtual and passed with flying colours, as was the case with the annual Frankfurt Book Fair.

Trade shows in the UK: the Olympia Exhibition Centre in London

Due to the fact that large events are currently banned in London, the Meetings Show and the Baby Show, which were set to take place at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in autumn 2020 have been transformed into virtual editions for which visitors may register online; the Spirit of Christmas fair, however, has been cancelled. Other awaited events such as the Language Show, scheduled to happen in mid-November, has also been reorganised so that most of its speakers can make their presentations live on the web.

Conventions and events in the United Arab Emirates

The unprecedented global health emergency has also pushed the dates of international gatherings and events which were expected to be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre and the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre, and even those of the Dubai World Expo itself. To mention but a few examples, the GITEX Technology Week will happen in December 2020, the Middle East Energy show in June 2021 and the Dubai Airshow in November 2021. The confirmed opening date for the World Expo Dubai is currently October 1 2021, running until March 31 2022.