All of us have felt the heavy burden of the Coronavirus, how it has affected our daily routines and weighed down the jewelry industry worldwide. A gloomy time indeed, when hope and escapism became inspirational themes for countless designers — while virtual trade shows set the scene for many.

Well, the good news is this year, after a series of cancellations and delays, some of the most renowned trade shows and exhibitions are making a comeback — minus the “normalcy” of how people interact with each other, however normal is defined these days.

With JCK events not too far away, here are some helpful tips — whether you’re an attendee or exhibitor — so you can fully harness the potential of your Vegas trip while playing it safe.

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Exhibitors: Create a roadmap and prepare in advance

As you envision you and your awesome team back in full meet-and-greet mode, preparation is absolutely essential to ensure you cover all bases and are prepared for the unexpected.

Spread the word!

Let your contacts know in advance that you’ll be attending and how to arrange to meet with you. Whether it’s by running ads on social media or via your newsletters, just make sure your booth location is clearly visible.

Have a solid digital presence

Consumer behavior has shifted dramatically since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic early 2020. E-commerce was on the rise already, but restrictions and lockdowns forced new buying habits from consumers. And not only consumers, but how the B2B world seeks to trade online or look for new partners.

Retailers embraced omnipresence by becoming e-tailers, which set new records in online jewelry sales. This being said, you must have a strong digital presence to create a buzz around your brand and let other trade professionals anticipate your presence at trade shows. Having a dedicated sliding banner on your homepage can help you achieve this.

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Create a COVID-safe zone for your booth visitors

As you may already suspect, in-person trade shows are going to have to comply with health and safety protocols. This means it will be your responsibility to foresee the possibility of installing plexiglass at the front end of your booth (if applicable) to secure proper physical distancing, and have sanitizing spray nearby.

Also, due to the pandemic, there may be booth-occupancy limitations depending on the size of each structure. Check with event organizers to prepare your team during counter greetings.

Train your sales team for safe and friendly interactions

In situations where everybody will be forced to wear a mask, we won’t be able to see your smile behind it. That shouldn’t stop you from sending out positive vibes — for instance, a modest wink and laugh-lines showing up around your eyes can warm the dialogue and work wonders when you’re building rapport with a potential customer.

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Attendees: connect with people and have fun!

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Your network, is your net worth.” For trade shows, this is your bread & butter.

From a B2B perspective, if you’re going to attend a jewelry trade show, chances are you’re seeking a new supplier, wholesaler, manufacturer, service provider, etc. With more than 2 months prior to showtime, you can use it to schedule on-site meetings with your key prospects.

Make an introduction by email and ask them for a couple of minutes of their time while you’re at the show. LinkedIn is powerful in this area. If you and your prospect share mutual connections, you may kindly ask to be introduced.

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Plan your work, and work the plan

With a list put together of what booth you’ll be stopping by and why, now is a great time to get a trade show floor map handy. Most event organizers will have it ready for download on their respective websites.

From there, you can begin drawing your start and finish lines. Exhibitions can get quite crowded and busy, therefore, maximize your efforts to meet the key people you came to the show for — in a timely manner.

Not only that, have a Plan B and Plan C — Meaning, you should create additional maps suggesting alternative routes, just in case your original plan brings you straight into traffic and hefty waiting lines. An extra tip I’d throw in for the sake of all the footwork waiting for you is to please, carry a pocket alcogel.

Are business cards still a thing during trade shows?

Speaking of which, due to COVID-19 restrictions and a possible no handshake policy on the exhibit hall, I recommend getting a digital business card like Mobilo Card for a much more effective and safer option to exchange contact details.

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Furthermore, Reed Exhibitions recently teamed up with Konduko, a global provider of SMART event technologies, to promote contactless connections. The outcome? During the March 2021 edition of Jewelers International Showcase (JIS) held in Miami Beach — an ingenious device surfaced.

It gave the ability for attendees to simply scan their badges by placing them over to get relevant business information associated with the vendor in question and/or to instantly send them contact details!

This is an innovative solution as booth visitors get an email at the end of the day with a list of all the stops they have made. Exhibitors get their fair share of data as well, which is a perfect addition to their CRM systems — Vendors that benefited from this technology witnessed a staggering 88% engagement rate and well over 2.4K generated leads — Now that’s a smart way to practice social distancing without cutting corners on business productivity.

Final Thoughts

Some of you may wonder “What will the attendance be like at the upcoming Luxury/JCK shows in August?” — This is unpredictable to know beforehand for obvious reasons, however, JIS in Miami showed signs of progress and marked its own success story — (Psst… attendance was up 10% compared to 2019).

Not a single soul can predict what will be the outcome of these shows, however, those partaking qualify as serious attendees — therefore expect quality interactions despite such challenging circumstances. Remember that both exhibitors and attendees showing up in Vegas are people who take matters into their own hands and play a vital role in the revival of human-to-human interactions, the stimuli of new business opportunities for all, and its impact on the jewelry trade as a whole.