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Q & A: Back on the Road with Kathryn Sprinkle

As 2021 winds down, we are taking a look at what it was like to go back out on the road.

Live events started to return earlier this year and increased as the year went on, so some of our EP team, such as Senior Account Manager Kathryn Sprinkle, are back to their pre-pandemic schedules and that includes travel.

What was your last work trip pre-pandemic?

I traveled for RCMA in January 2020 and then my next trip was for NAMA in August 2021!

Do you remember any thoughts or feelin from March 2020 when events started to cancel?

Yes, we had several team members already in Anaheim for NPEW 2020. A few of the booths were already 100% set up when the show was cancelled. That’s when we knew what was happening was truly a big deal. I knew it would have a lasting impact on events, but underestimate just how long large events would be cancelled for.

Live events are definitely happening now, but how would you describe the current state and vibe in the industry?

I definitely think those that are attending trade shows are excited to be back and motivated to do business. The feedback I’ve gotten from customers is that there may not be the volume of meetings from previous years, but meaningful conversations are happening and our clients are getting in front of customers.

Also, it’s important to note that so many businesses have undergone major changes over the past 18 months that they are anxious and excited to share. Whether it’s a rebrand, acquisition, or they’ve had major product releases, getting in front of customers with an impactful presence seems to be more important than ever.

How did you feel when you booked your first post COVID work trip?

I was really excited to get back on the road and do something other than working on my computer, but I definitely felt out of practice. I’ve joked with others in the industry that it’s like you “get out of travel shape”. Also, I know that I grew a year older, but I swear those convention hall floors got harder on the knees!

What changes did you notice in travel and/or the experience of a live event?

Lines can be long and travel takes more patience than ever. Handshakes and hugs are not always a welcomed form of greeting - sometimes a wave will do. Hand sanitizer is good to have, but plexiglass barriers come off as uninviting. Most folks are just happy to be socializing outside of their immediate family!

Also, pre-event lead times are longer and materials costs are higher, so planning needs to be more meticulous than ever!

Do you have a favorite tradeshow that you missed more than others during COVID cancellations?

IMEX and NACS are two of my favorites, I missed the energy at those two shows. NACS returned in October and things almost felt normal. Fewer parties and events took place outside of the show floor, but the show itself was buzzing. Then, a couple weeks ago, I returned from IMEX which was a success by all accounts. It was a vaccination-required show and masks were optional. There was a slightly lower international attendance, but our client, Hyatt Hotels held over 1,000 meetings in their booth over the three day event. Everyone was thrilled to meeting face-to-face again.

While travel requirements continue to change on a daily basis, shows that typically see a high level of international attendees are of course, still affected. our EP team remains diligent in monitoring show guidelines, local regulations, travel restrictions and more - beyond just the scope of exhibit or the event activation. But, we are also grateful for the progress made so far and look forward to seeing you at our next destination!

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