The New normal for Conventions, Events and Tradeshows

Since June of 2021 I have provided Convention, Events and Tradeshow Photography to 5 major conferences and conventions and several headshots stations. I can say I have been free of getting COVID and do get tested.

Convention Photography of Convention Attendees, some wearing masks and other no mask during a breakout session.

Convention Photography of Convention Attendees, some wearing masks and other no mask during a breakout session.

The meetings planners perform an incredible job, posting signs encouraging attendees to wear masks even if you have not been vaccinated. In addition, there are signs throughout with hand washing reminders, social distancing of 6 feet.

There is always plenty of hand sanitizer stations in the meeting rooms, outside the foyer’s and even in the bathrooms. On the Tradeshow floor I have notice that just about every other booth offers hand sanitizers and masks with their logo.

As a Convention and Event Photographer I am truly in the middle of all the attendees.

Running around as a Convention and Event photographer I need to be everywhere and at times in the middle of many attendees. I do wear my mask as much as possible. Many groups that hire me know I do not stand still very long. Always moving fast to get to the next good shot. The mask does make it hard to breathe but I still do my best. This new normal of some wearing masks and others that do not wear masks at Conventions, Conferences, Tradeshows, Headshot Stations and Events are here to stay.

Tradeshow Photography of breakout classes at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX

Between breakout sessions.  Convention Photography by Joseph Rodriguez owner of proimagesphoto.com

My conversations with attendees regarding this awful COVID disease has been very mixed.

One attendee I was talking with did tell me they got vaccinated. She was not wearing a mask but was still concerned and would wash her hands many times a day if she felt she was touching surfaces that others touched. In addition, she would be careful to not touch too many surfaces so she uses a tissue to open a door or enter a code on a machine.

Another attendee told me that she feels that this will soon be behind us but the problem is that many that do not get vaccinated will only cause this to stay here further. Opinions are very mixed but what I have seen is that everyone is doing their best to be safe. Networking in person is important and builds connections that zoom cannot.

Convention Centers are adapting to fight COVID and other airborne viruses with INTEGRATED VIRAL PROTECTION (IVP)

Recently less than 14 days ago I provided Convention Photography at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Did you know that in early September 2020, the George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB) was the first convention center in the country to deploy the Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) system? This initiative is in partnership with Monzer Hourani, inventor and founder of IVP and CEO of Medistar Corporation. Houston-based IVP made international news in early July 2020 when it introduced the world’s first biodefense filtration technology proven to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 (99.999%), anthrax spores (99.8%) and other airborne contaminants through a heated filter without impacting the temperature of the ambient air.

This is the beginning of positive change to large scale venues all over the world and those that don’t do this will probably find that they will have to adapt. I am sure more technology will be integrated to venues to keep everyone safe.

I provide exhibitor and tradeshow photography and I have seen some changes that I feel also will stay.

Exhibitor Photography of attendee inside exhibitor booth getting demonstration.

Convention and Event Photography of Vision Source 2021 in Houston Convention Center. ©Joseph Rodriguez | proimagesphoto.com

Exhibitors and Tradeshow booths often have equipment or interactive model of some type to show the attendees and many are often interactive so the prospective customer will engage with the device or machine. What I have seen is that each time before and after, the exhibitor will clean the device with disinfectant before the next person engages. Some tradeshow booth attendants will present and show the attendees the device or machine with no engagement from the attendees. Providing safety in a COVID era is important at all levels.

Face masks really make it hard to communicate during meetings for in-person events and conventions.

Masks are highly encouraged even if you are vaccinated. I did some research and found this interesting. The National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders state that about 16 percent of Americans has some degree of hearing loss and about half are younger than 65 years old. So, to this percentage of people, lip-reading is critical and is lost when others wear masks while speaking.

Everyone else that has no hearing issue there is also a communication disconnect with masks. Chris Frith, PhD professor emeritus of neuropsychology at University College London who has studied the role of facial expressions in communication, adds that people could misunderstand the words others are saying if they can’t see others’ mouths moving as they talk.

Conference Photography of female smiling in a breakout session.

Convention photography of female smiling in a breakout session. ©Joseph Rodriguez | proimagesphoto.com

In addition, during networking or breaks for example, words alone cannot communicate feelings, thoughts or attitudes which is important for social and emotional bonds between people.

Smiling is a meaningful social cue for attendees, sponsors, and tradeshow staff.

When a person walks past someone whose they cannot see their facial expression it is hard to gauge if they are approachable or friendly. I have been looking at eyes lately to gauge that social cue but this is still a work in progress.

Face shields are an option but I have not seen this at any meeting yet.

Convention, Conferences and Events will survive COVID!

The goal is to wear our masks as much as we can, wash our hands and to be vaccinated. The meeting industry will survive this moment in time. It seems just like yesterday it was March 2020 and the world stopped.

Tradeshow floor photography at George R Brown Convention Center

Tradeshow and Exhibitors with attendees. ©Joseph Rodriguez | proimagesphoto.com

So the new normal for Conventions Events and Tradeshows will be here with us for sometime. I hope that we can one day get back to true normal and until that time let us continue to be safe, wear our mask when possible and if not vaccinated please do, if not for you, then for your loved ones. Stay strong and please share this post.

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