Last month, in Behind the Seams, we asked “Are you to ready to re-engage and attend live industry events?”
62% of respondents answered yes.
This is the question everyone is asking right now, isn’t it? “Are you ready?” Event planners and showrunners — SPESA included — are eager to reunite in person, share what we’ve learned, and, to be frank, start making money again. We know several of our members, especially those in sales, are also chomping at the bit to get back to face-to-face meetings with customers. Virtual meetings work great for many things, but sometimes that final handshake in a deal is more than just a formality, and can’t be replaced.
We actually thought the percentage of yes answers to our SPESA Asks would be even higher. We have repeatedly been told, through both first-person accounts and industry news, that people want to meet in person again. In fact, a recent customer survey conducted by leading trade show organizer Messe Frankfurt found that 97% of companies want to continue participating in live shows.
As reported in Just Style:
Companies surveyed for Messe Frankfurt’s Customer Care Campaign (CCC) expressed clear approval of the additional digital benefits offered by hybrid trade fair formats during the pandemic in particular. However, people want – and need – in-person trade fairs.
“This is a clear vote of confidence for in-person events,” says Wolfgang Marzin, president and CEO of Messe Frankfurt. “Only 3% of respondents wanted to see events move entirely online. In fact, 67% of our customers would like events to take place solely in person, with another 30% expressing a preference for hybrid formats. In total, 97% of our customers remain convinced that in-person events are an essential component of trade fairs.
With this in mind, we admit perhaps there was a flaw in our question. Want is not the same as being ready.
SPESA sent out a survey in July asking our members if they planned to attend the SPESA Executive Conference in Boston this October. 63% of those respondents said yes (side note: we thought it was interesting that the percentage was so similar to our SPESA Asks even though the audience was different and the actual number of respondents varied by around 100). However, 19% answered that they didn’t know. In a follow-up question, respondents cited the need to get approval from company management, concerns over travel budgets, and overwhelming workloads. They also asked what the mask policy would be.
We know that there are many factors that will go into your decision on whether you and your company are ready to attend live events again. After discussing it with our members, Board of Directors, and industry partners, the SPESA team came to the decision that we were ready for in-person events. That is why we are moving forward with the SPESA Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference, as well as exhibiting at Techtextil North America 2021, both to be held next week in Raleigh, North Carolina. As mandated by our county, SPESA attendees will be required to wear masks during the conference. We will also be conducting temperature checks at the registration table as an added measure of safety.
Despite the obvious obstacles, we have every confidence that both the SPESA conference and Techtextil North America will be successful. And we look forward to reconnecting with our members, colleagues, and friends across the sewn products industry — when you are ready.
We encourage SPESA members, or any Behind the Seams readers, to reach out to us if you have concerns about safety at SPESA events or if there is anything we can do to help make sewn products industry education and networking more accessible to you.