New Normal for Trade Shows Requires Nimble Logistics


The convention and trade show industry is back on its feet, rebounding from a gut punch delivered by the global pandemic.

As the industry returns to face-to-face gatherings, convention planners are shoulder-to-shoulder with logistics professionals in shaping a new normal to replace the days of calendar-crashing slowdowns, lockdowns and cancelations.

“In some ways, COVID-19 was like an asteroid hitting the business events industry – not wiping it out, but creating a new world order,” said the Professional Convention Management Association, representing 8,400 members and a global audience of more than 100,000 business stakeholders.

The global reset for trade shows and exhibitions includes contactless services, sanitation technologies, space modifications and hybrid show models that blend in-person attendance with virtual participation.

“Our response has centered around flexibility, innovation and, above all, a commitment to safety for everyone,” said David Causton, general manager of Chicago’s giant McCormick Place.

“We’ve been collaborating with other venues, contractors and our customers to help navigate our approach to reopening.”

At ICAT Logistics Detroit, we are adjusting with customers who are returning to the evolving world of trade shows and exhibition. Our experience and expertise in managing change and offering flexible options are essential tools for providing efficient delivery and peace of mind.

Knowland, a leading provider of convention intelligence data, predicts meeting volumes will recover nearly 60 percent of 2019 levels by the end of 2022. The company’s survey showed that 45 percent of exhibitors expect budgets to return to pre-pandemic levels within a year.

The importance of in-person shows was noted by the Driving website when more than 1,000 companies showed up to look under the hood at an auto show in China.

“We interrupt this regularly scheduled virtual auto show with breaking news,” Driving reported. “There are people attending the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show in person.”

For many organizations, resuming trade shows and association gatherings means aligning or substituting conventions with smaller, regional meetings. In any case, the recovery calls for nimble, creative logistics strategies to ship exhibits, booths, furniture and video equipment.

Communications, contacts and transparency are more vital than ever for a successful

event. So, too, is up-to-the-minute understanding of ever-changing rules and regulations governing large-scale events and venues.

In North America and around the globe, convention and trade show participants rely on ICAT Logistics Detroit for secure, cost-effective results. Based in Detroit and connected to a worldwide network, we offer a quarter-century of experience and successful outcomes with planners, hosts and presenters at many of the world’s most important event sites.

There’s nobody better to have in your corner when making a comeback.

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