The Covid-19 pandemic has led to exhibition stand design and construction company RedAnt Design diversifying its offering to provide more design capabilities and solutions for virtual and hybrid shows.
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted on the business exhibition events and conferencing industry, as physical distancing regulations has forced many events to be cancelled, postponed or moved to an online platform.
Such a platform includes exclusively virtual events, or hybrid-type events that include in-person attendance complemented by virtual aspects.
While many event organising companies have been able to mitigate the challenges by integrating digital aspects into previously held in-person events, suppliers to these events have been severely affected.
“We are and always will be quite diversified in our design capability. We’re generally more involved in the physical infrastructure space, but we liaise with other companies and/or partners that can help us with digital aspects.
“This includes providing digital and virtual elements for showrooms, including equipment, such as touchscreens and tablets, as well as virtual reality elements. Integrating this into a showroom is a new area that is growing,” explains RedAnt director Steve Siebert.
Further, the company has also been able to create virtually designed stands for clients, which become incorporated into the interfaces of exclusively virtual exhibitions. The interfaces enable an attendee to visit virtual stands using a virtual reality platform.
RedAnt has also been involved in creating infrastructure, such as showrooms and point-of-sales displays, for clients.
“Even before Covid, we were often asked to try to integrate some form of digital media into our offerings. Our design capabilities within our business are complementary to these requests, as brand activations have always been a useful string to our bow.”
Siebert adds that incorporating digital and virtual elements into in-person events can provide many benefits for the business exhibition events and conferencing industry, consequently making the industry more sustainable.
He adds that there is “plenty of scope” for digital and virtual elements to add value to in-person events, rather than replacing them.
Siebert does, however, argue that exclusively virtual events are not a viable option in the long term for RedAnt, owing to the economic losses for the company in not being able to build and provide exhibition stands for larger in-person events.
Additionally, Siebert highlights that client feedback indicates a need to return to in- person events.
“People are craving to get back to having personal contact with one another. We don’t feel that exclusively virtual shows can replicate the trust factor and deal-closing ability of face-to-face interactions. New relationships are also formed for companies during these interactions, which can be beneficial in the long term, and are not viable in a virtual setting.”
Siebert adds that RedAnt is hoping for a return to larger in-person events being hosted in the third quarter of this year.
“Going forward, particularly with the prospect of constantly changing Covid-19 regulations, build-up times for these events are going to be shorter. This is going to affect the type of stand we’ll be able to build.”
If Covid-19 regulations allow for only a certain number of construction crew during an event build up, stands might have to be manufactured by the company in larger sections so that stands can be put together on site more easily, notes Siebert.
“Our initial goal is survival, and diversification away from exhibitions until larger in- person events are being held again. In the long term, we feel that we can make a significant contribution towards the exhibition and conferences industry. The industry is a multibillion-rand industry and it is capable of creating jobs. It’s also capable of working within health and safety restrictions,” he concludes.