How to Track and Plan for Events Reopening in 2021

February 4, 2021

By Wendy Gibson


Planning for the return of live in-person events is challenging during a pandemic, especially when the COVID-19 case levels are fluctuating daily, resulting in ever-changing government guidelines.

Working with our clients, we are closely tracking both key activities and indicators as to if a city can host a face-to-face event. By participating in industry events, including virtual CMO roundtables, marketers of all levels are trying to figure out what cities or regions are likely to execute an event (e.g., trade show, conference, corporate event, association, etc.) for future planning purposes.

After answering questions about where events are occurring, the team realized the need for an interactive Global Event Tracker. Our team quickly began tracking activity in key tradeshow cities, along with other indicators. For example, if a city has a professional sports team and they have fans in seats, there is a high likelihood a trade show can occur in that city.


What is the GES Interactive Global Event Tracker?

Criteria Used:

  • Historical Data: GES’ Interactive Global Event Tracker covers key trade show cities and event attendance for the past 90 days and shares that information in an at-a-glance format.
  • Future Updates: Our goal is to update the data every two weeks, so the Interactive Global Event Tracker provides an ongoing high-level resource for the event and trade show industries as well as brands looking to plan ahead.
    • As a global organization, we have teams and partners on the street in major tradeshow cities. They are watching what’s happening at the street level to gauge the likelihood of an event of occurring.
    • If you would like to help us in collecting the latest on your local venues and events, we have included a feedback button to submit updates.

How to Read It:

  • Using a stoplight analogy of red, yellow, and green, we have indicated where tradeshows and events are occurring, and color-coded key markets activities based on attendee participation and mitigation requirements.
  • Using Dallas, Texas as an example for a “green” city, we’ve seen several trade shows occur with more than 2,000 attendees in the last half of 2020 and the start of 2021. In addition, when the Dallas Cowboys were playing, more than 25,000 fans packed the stands. As a result, Dallas is colored green to indicate it is a city that is up and running for live events.
  • Based on our most recent data updates to the GES Interactive Global Event Tracker, the majority of “green” color-coded cities were in the Southern states in the U.S., with the U.A.E., Australia, and New Zealand leading the charge globally for reopening events.

I dream of the day when this entire map is lit up green. However, we know that will take time and we want events to return safely. As our global population strives to emerge from the pandemic through vaccinations, PPE and other safety mitigations, events are slowly coming back. The need for attendees and employees to gather to network, educate, and conduct some form of commerce at events will always be a necessary element of successful marketing campaigns.

We are hoping the Interactive Global Event Tracker will provide some level of insight to help our clients and industry colleagues in planning for their next in-person or hybrid events and trade shows.

Wendy Gibson is chief marketing officer at GES.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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