Conferences and public events are being greatly impacted by the COVID-19 virus as seen over the past 30 days. The threat is serious and specific steps are being taken in an effort to contain the virus. The CDC suggests “Know the facts about coronavirus and help stop the spread of rumors.”

As a designer and manufacturer of custom trade show exhibits, Star understands the time and effort that goes into planning for a company presentation at a national trade show. With the new reality of possible additional cancellations worldwide, it will become increasingly more important to understand what each exhibitor can do to safeguard themselves financially. Preparation for any future events should include the following:

1. Stay in the Know

If your event is coming up within the next few months, make sure to reach out to your association for any updates. Ad Age, an online source has provided “Coronavirus Industry Event Tracker” that may help in identifying your show.

2. Talk to Your Customers

Keep in touch with your customers and get an understanding on their position regarding attending your next trade show.

3. Talk to Your Vendors

Reach out to your exhibit vendor, have an open dialogue with them and ask about cancellation policies, extension of contracts, deadlines that may results in savings or losses based on your final decisions to participate. If you’re a Star customer, we offer many options in the event of an event cancellation. View Star’s cancellation policy here.

4. Review and Understand All of Your Alternatives

Can you move your immediate show activities to an on-line forum? Or is it possible to have a smaller event that is limited in size and controlled within your own facility. Region shows may not be impacted by air travel or affected by a large group of attendees.

5. Know Your Deadlines

Every show comes with deadlines regarding electrical services, drayage, shipping, etc. Most shows come with discounted pre-payment fees that are usually due 30 days in advance. In an effort to save money, know these deadlines and make sure your answer to attend is your final answer. If your association cancels the show, you may have recourse in recovering any pre-payments (Floor rental, services, etc.) But if you cancel and the show continues as scheduled, you could be liable for any pre-payments made.

6. Lastly—Keep Yourself and Others Healthy

During this time, its important to remember these key safety practices to maintain your health and minimize risk for yourself and others around you:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Moving forward as you explore trade shows down the road, make sure to consider a vendor who can offer well defined cancellation policies, guarantees based on different contingency scenarios, or a willingness to negotiate and reduce your financial exposure for unexpected situations. For example, Star’s multi-show programs provide flexibility in maintaining costs by extending contract timelines at no charge. View Star’s cancellation policy, and read more details about your options in the event of a project cancellation.

In conclusion—as trade show and event marketing professionals—the COVID-19 outbreak poses some challenges to consider in the upcoming months. But with due diligence, research, communication and proper planning, event marketers can minimize theirs risks and overcome those challenges while still having a successful trade show program.


Ray oversees the delivery and execution of Star’s value added client marketing and creative services. He has over twenty years of experience in sales, marketing, and event planning. You can reach him at