The past few weeks have been unprecedented in the history of the trade show industry. While times are certainly challenging, it is important to remember that maintaining the relationships your company has with its exhibitors and sponsors is vital to the future success of your organization.

Below we outline some ways in which you can convey to your exhibits and sponsors how much they mean to your organization, and protect the relationship you have worked so hard to build.

Empathize – The trade show industry has been turned upside down. Be cognizant of the fact that most of the company representatives with whom you interact represent their companies at trade shows twelve months of the year. They might be fearful of their own job security, or of the future of their company.

Be attentive – Best practice dictates a quick response to exhibitors and sponsors during the normal course of business. Now that the situation is far from normal, this attentiveness is even more important. Clearly communicate the options your exhibitors and sponsors have once your meeting has been cancelled, and provide periodic updates regarding plans for future meetings, or other ways they can support your organization, such as through virtual sponsorships.

Express confidence – It is essential that you speak positively about your organization’s next meeting. Instilling confidence in the future of your meeting in your exhibitor or sponsor ensures that they will plan to support you in the future.

Consider alternatives – Your trade show is a platform by which exhibiting and sponsoring companies reach potential clients and share information about their products and services. When that platform becomes unavailable, companies will be grateful for alternatives. Be prepared to share detailed information about any options you have developed to replace your trade show. Be creative – consider virtual trade shows, sponsored online sessions, and branding opportunities that can replace some of the exposure to their clients that companies have lost because of the show’s cancellation.