Two years ago, we at Steelhead made a remarkable decision — we would no longer design, build, and sell trade show exhibits. That’s right, we would design and build incredible spaces, however our clients would never again have to buy or own them.
There are multiple reasons behind the decision such as sustainability and economics, but the primary factor was that we wanted to empower our customer, the event marketer, with the flexibility to make the most of his or her program. Flexibility that is simply not afforded when they had to make the long-term commitment that comes with buying trade show exhibits.
Why is flexibility so important some may ask? The world today moves at a pace we have not seen in human history. Technology, data, and the rate we receive information has the power to fundamentally change how we see and experience things. And there is that word—change. Change is the why.
Events, by nature, are things that happen once at a particular time and place. Most of our customers state they go to “the same shows” year after year, yet we are working with them to understand that CES 2020 will not be the same event as CES 2021, for example. So why on earth would we roll out the same activation we did last time?
In the year that passes between shows, things will change; they always do. Some of the changes will occur within their own companies: the people they work with, the products they sell, the markets they sell them in, their competitors just to name a few. Some other changes they can and will control are program and show strategies, budgets, show schedule, and of course, their goals and outcomes. There are more potential changes likely to occur the we can list here, yet the point is that they will happen.
This leads us to the other type of change, the type which is certainly omnipresent today — the change we cannot control. Natural disasters, economic shifts (good and bad), war, politics and global turmoil like what is happening right now with the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
At this very moment, brands and the people within them are assessing this threat at every level. In the event space, people are considering travel policies and whether to attend shows or not.
If they do move forward, how do they go about it? Is it even safe to go? What will attendance be like? Do they need to adjust their expectations, presence, and budgets accordingly? Will they be able to do so in such little time? Or perhaps the show itself is cancelled? What are those implications? The issues and impact of COVID-19 go far beyond business, as do all events affecting our humanity. We hope it comes to pass with minimal impact to the things that matter most — life itself.
We all know the clichés. It’s not a matter of “if things change”, it’s when. Or, change is inevitable. However, change isn’t a bad thing. If you are not changing, you are not growing and on, and on and on. The question we unearth is, what success can you achieve if you are prepared to ride the winds of change no matter the direction they blow? Or even better, predict them.
We are helping our customers approach each event as an opportunity to look at what is happening in our world and the customer’s world with a fresh set of eyes. Realizing these shows are unique moments in time opens an opportunity to create a truly unique experience for the attendee.
Then and only then, can we begin to create an event space or trade show environment for the people to experience that is on-demand and reflective of that moment in time, because things change; so should your exhibit.
- Sean Combs, CEO