Normally at this point in the year, planning for The Pool & Spa Show would be almost complete. The educational seminars would be finalized, most of the booth spaces sold. But 2020 (and probably a good portion of 2021) refuses to go as planned.
As of our press date The Pool & Spa Show is committed to holding an in-person event at the end of January 2021. New Jersey, which had some of the toughest restrictions on businesses and travel, has started to slowly pull back some of those measures. There will certainly still be some restrictions, so the show will not look the same as years past.
“Our show is not just an event, it’s an experience,” says show manager Trish McCormick. “We’re having fun stretching ourselves figuring out what that experience will look like. If things continue to move forward or stay the same, we will have an event in Atlantic City.”
McCormick and her team are looking at changes to both meet state mandates and keep everyone safe. Class sizes will be reduced, and there are several options for switching up the exhibit floor by either spreading out exhibitors or creating smaller exhibitor groups in different halls.
“It’s fun and kind of exciting creating different ways of doing live events that could be around for years to come,” McCormick says. “Maybe it was time for the industry to change anyway.”
To keep exhibitors and attendees up to date, the show developed a weekly e-newsletter instead of the marketing emails and postcards of the past. It features content about the show and how it’s moving forward, but also about the industry and COVID.
McCormick and Dominick Mondi, executive director of NESPA, say that from the conversations they’ve been having, it seems the industry is ready to get together in person.
“One of the things I’ve certainly gained confidence in: Live events are not going away,” Mondi says. “It will change; we need to incorporate technology. Technology isn’t going to replace events but make things better. I think the show is going to come roaring back.”
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen. And NESPA is preparing on all fronts. “We’re going in with eyes wide open, but we’re going in,” Mondi says. “Everybody knows something could happen, but we’re not going to take that tactic of wait and see. People seem to want, even the folks who are hesitant, to get back to that.”