Ahead of IBTM World Barcelona, Ross Curran, head of SmartSpace, RX’s in-house stand design and build service, explores how to create eye-catching exhibition stands which also adhere to the latest health and safety guidelines.
What’s the best way to design stands with physical distancing in mind?
We have been preparing for re-opening with Covid guidelines in place, and all our stands are Covid compliant. It’s likely that physical distancing of some form will be around for a while, so consider how many people can be on your stand at any one time. Do this by dividing your open stand space by 4m² per person for a rough number of staff and customers that can stay 1.5 meters apart at any one time (the current Spanish regulations). Make sure you balance how many of these individuals will be your exhibiting staff and how many customer spaces you can create. We recommend leaving a one-meter perimeter around your stand to allow for physical distancing as people come off the aisles.
Do you have any tips to avoid crowding on stands?
Keep stands as open as possible to give everyone space and flexibility to move around freely and put a one-way system in place. We recommend avoiding closed meeting rooms and gathering points (like barista stations) on stands and consider installing a clear screen between people who are close together. Above all, when deciding on your layout, consider what would make the best and most comfortable customer experience.
Are there any other health and safety considerations that should be taken into account?
Avoid any physical touchpoints and shared equipment on your stand. If it’s critical that customers or staff handle products or equipment, make sure there’s a regime in place to sanitize shared items between each use. If you can capture leads electronically, do it! Provide brochures and other information electronically, which is better for the environment anyway, and avoid giveaways at this time. Brief your staff thoroughly on any new measures you have included in the operation of your stand. We recommend that you avoid hospitality catering for customers on your stand during this period. Finally, think about contractor safety for the break-down process. By maximizing the available space and simplifying the construction, you will require fewer contracting staff to build your stand as well as more distance between them as they build/dismantle.
What’s the best way to communicate this to clients?
Customers will have developed new behaviours and expectations of the design and cleanliness of any space they enter, including your stand, and it’s important to communicate clearly how you will keep them safe while they visit your stand. Clear signage on the floor and around your stand can help visitors understand how to move around the space. Using pictorial signage that is not language-dependent to offer guidance on things like handshaking is helpful at larger international events such as IBTM World. And make sure you have hand sanitizer clearly visible at all entrance and exit points.
How can stands be created that are health and safety compliant and have the wow factor?
Let’s not forget that a physical stand exists to promote a brand and entice people to visit and make connections. We work with clients to ensure that their vision for their stand is realized, and this is where our team of talented designers really come into their own to ensure that the stands continue to offer inviting social space while remaining Covid compliant. Some of the methods we advise to clients include making sure that your branding is situated at a high level so that it can be seen from above and from various points in the hall. Large-format images can also be very eye-catching. Keep stands as open and inviting as possible, as if stands are overcrowded, they can look a bit daunting. Finally, don’t forget to keep your brand values in mind when designing a stand, and ensure that everything in your stand reflects how you want people to feel about your brand.