On June 15th, the state of California reopened, allowing the comeback of events and gatherings in the state. However, for events categorized as “mega events,” things are not quite the same as they were pre-pandemic.

A mega-event is any gathering that has more than 5,000 people indoors or 10,000 people outdoors. Some of the most common mega-events are sporting events, concerts, trade shows, and conventions. Typically, these types of gatherings attract visitors from all over the state, country, and sometimes the world, so they are still considered high-risk for spreading the coronavirus.

The Latest Restrictions for California “Mega Events,” Including Trade Shows

The rules differ slightly for indoor vs. outdoor events:

  • When it comes to indoor mega-events, California is requiring that all visitors verify they have been fully vaccinated. If not, they must produce a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of attending the event.
  • Outdoor events do not have the same restrictions, but attendees will be encouraged to follow guidelines including wearing a face covering if not vaccinated and practicing proper social distancing.

These restrictions are going to stay in place until October 1st. On September 1st, that state will review the restrictions and determine whether or not they will be needed after October.

Is It Legal to Ask Attendees if They are Vaccinated?

State officials have also explained that these requirements are legal and will be enforced at every single event. It is legal for businesses to ask whether or not an individual is vaccinated, and the individual can be turned away based on their vaccination status. In addition, when a business asks for a vaccination status, this is not violating HIPPA. Violating HIPPA only occurs inside doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other medical institutions.

The Importance of Following the New Rules for “Mega Events” in California

The reopening of events in California has been a massive sigh of relief for trade shows and conventions. As some of the world’s biggest trade shows occur in the state, the loss of revenue in 2020 from these events was staggering. Since the start of the pandemic, the Long Beach Convention Center had to cancel 121 meetings, losing about $157 million in spending. In Palm Springs, an even larger loss occurred. The Palm Springs Convention Center had to cancel more than 400 events, losing the region about $279 million in spending. In some cases, certain events had to be relocated to states with looser COVID restrictions.

These losses were obviously devastating to the state, but because trade shows and conventions provide such great value to small businesses and customers, the loss was felt across the nation.

A Quick Reminder: The Benefits of Attending Trade Shows

Microsoft laid out the nine major benefits to bringing your business to trade shows:

  1. You can be face-to-face with potential customers. Being in person with customers allows you to freely explain about your brand without any limits. You can answer questions on the spot and cater your response to each specific person.
  2. Have a motivated audience. When at trade shows, you know that those visiting are actually genuinely interested in what the trade shows and businesses there have to offer. Random, uninterested visitors are not going to be heading to a trade show.
  3. Check out the competition. Again, by being face-to-face with other businesses in your industry you can see what they are doing differently. You can get new ideas or build off of your current ones after comparing yourself against the other guys.
  4. Find valuable partners. Not all businesses at the trade show you head to go are going to be your direct competitors. Rather, there will be other companies there that are in the same industry but providing a completely different value or product. Being at these trade shows can allow you to connect with similar businesses and offer something even greater to your customers.
  5. Expand your reach. Now that most states have opened up again and are allowing for trade shows to occur, you can bring your business to areas outside of your base. You can travel out of state to some of the biggest conventions in Las Vegas, California, Chicago, etc. to reach new, bigger, and possibly better customers.
  6. Get instant feedback. Those attending the trade show can give you valuable feedback on the spot for your business. Almost like an impromptu focus group, you can ask visitors what they think you are doing right, what you can improve on, and what else you can provide to sway them.
  7. Meet existing clients. Trade shows offer another exciting way to get into contact with clients you have already connected with online or over the phone. It is always exciting and beneficial to meet your existing clients as you can create a stronger relationship, upsell more of your business to them, and typically keep them as long-term clients after the show.
  8. Advertise your brand. Before you get to the trade show, make sure that you have some awesome branded giveaways and products to keep your company top-of-mind with customers after they leave. Because potential clients are meeting so many different businesses, you will want to make sure you stand out amongst the competition. In addition to having branded giveaways, also be sure to have an awesome eye-catching trade show booth to attract visitors and have them come to learn about your business and what value you can provide to them.
  9. Make sales. The ultimate goal of bringing your business to any trade show is of course to make sales. By being in person, you can have better and stronger negotiations with clients to close a deal.

The loss of trade shows and conventions in 2020 was terrible for all of the parties involved, so California’s latest announcement (as well as other major trade show cities including Las Vegas, Chicago, Denver, and New York City) was a welcome change. Just remember to double-check what the restrictions are at each convention to ensure that you are properly following the guidelines for the safety of yourself, your employees, and your current and potential clients. It is well worth it in the end!

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