TS: It has to have been a tough few months for IFE and you in particular as you had to postpone the Fastener Show for 2020. I know you came under some pressure to cancel this year’s show but I’m guessing it is not so simple to just pull that plug. What can you share with us about that whole process?
Morgan: Several factors went into making the decision and although it is clear now, this was a challenging situation. We had participants that were urging us to cancel and then others that wanted to move forward. Safety is and always will be the priority. As we continually assessed the situation and developed safety protocols, we still needed to ensure our participants felt safe attending the show. Our registration stats were a good way of gauging this, in addition to confirming an exhibitor to attendee ratio that met expectations. Add in local and global travel restrictions, considerations for postponement, and you get the idea…
TS: You have set the date for the show in 2021 and it’s on my calendar. Do you have even higher expectations for next year’s show with people having skipped a year?
Morgan: It’s tough to predict what’s going to happen during this time of uncertainty and I wish I could say that we expect a larger event in terms of overall attendance. However, I think it could take some time for the event industry to make a full recovery. It will also depend on how much longer this pandemic continues and when a vaccine becomes available. One thing I do know is that building relationships is a crucial aspect in this industry and from what we are hearing, many are currently missing that face to face interaction.
TS: Are there any other new ideas you are working on for the 2021 show that you can share with us? Speakers or interactive events?
Morgan: At the moment, we are focused on creating a virtual event for later in the year – one that will allow the community to feel connected despite not meeting in person. Our goal will be to integrate one of the key elements into next year’s live show. It is no doubt that B2B events as we know them will likely look different in the future and we will continue to adapt as needed.
TS: Just for those who are not that familiar with Emerald Expositions, approximately how many shows does Emerald hold per year? Do you work on any other events?
Morgan: Emerald currently manages 142 events across North America. My direct team and I are lucky enough to be dedicated solely to IFE.
TS: How did you get started with IFE?
Morgan: Following Emerald’s acquisition of IFE, or NIFMSE at the time, the company was seeking someone with experience in the industry. I had previously worked for a wide range Fastener Distributor in Southern California for about 9 years. It made for a great transition and it’s been a great experience thus far.
TS: And I have been told that Emerald is one of the largest “customers” in terms of booking hotels for trade shows. Is that accurate?
Morgan: I am not sure where we stand regarding hotel bookings, but Emerald is in the top 10 trade show organizers in the world.
TS: While the IFE show is the one near and dear to our hearts, you have exposure to many other trade shows. And I am sure that there are many that are much larger than ours. Can you share any of the things that other industries do at trade shows that would be interesting to IFE attendees?
Morgan: Speaking about Emerald’s portfolio of events, each show’s offering differs from the next – this is because each show’s audience and their needs are so unique. For instance, exhibitors at ASD, one of Emerald’s largest trade shows, come to the show expecting to go back with direct orders from buyers across the country. A number of our other shows are education-focused, since this is the need of the hour for their attendees. However, if I was to speak about trade shows in general, we are seeing an increasing focus on digital. At IFE, we try to keep our ear to the ground and continually adapt based on what the Fastener community needs while making sure that we keep up with the times. Live shows are very important to us, but we are also working to provide more digital tools for our audience to connect more easily throughout the year.
TS: So, we have no in person show on the schedule for 2020. Are there any plans for IFE to reach out to the industry in the absence of an in person trade show?
Morgan: Yes, we are excited to release details on our online event coming up this November. It took us some time to find the right platform for IFE and we are confident to be bringing our audience a valued opportunity to connect this year. The focus of our event will be high-level networking and the capability to make new connections. We are going with an established and proven system that utilizes AI to automatically match our participants across all levels. This was important as we recognize the unique dynamic within IFE, where it’s not uncommon for exhibitors to do business with one another. We are planning to have some education aspects and other virtual features.