What will happen to people gathering, events, tradeshows, etc? Will they ever return?
This year’s in-person event restrictions have been a challenge for all businesses, but perhaps nowhere more than in the produce industry, which thrives on the vitality of personal connections throughout the supply chain.
We are an industry where relationships are often built that is “as strong with a handshake as with a contract,”; a testament to our people’s friendly and trustworthy nature. Throughout the pandemic, the solution to staying connected, creating new business opportunities, and seeing each other has been “virtual.”
United Fresh experienced this strategy’s benefits in June, with United Fresh LIVE !, which has since transitioned to a one-year United Fresh LIVE! Platform. 365 a market for the industry to continue creating new business opportunities.
They found that their loyal audience is growing, especially among young professionals and the international community. Small and medium-sized businesses are also among those with whom they establish new relationships through their virtual platform because before, they did not have the budget to send a team to an event in person.
2,800 companies participated in United Fresh LIVE! – They doubled the number in person in recent years. They grew their global community by 180%. It was so successful that the Washington Conference was also virtual, with 427 participants. In addition to the PartnerXChange Program, 26 companies met with 26 retailers/foodservice.
The future leads us to believe that hybrid events are somewhere in the middle as virtual events serve as a worthy replacement for many of the canceled in-person events. However, still, professionals miss live face-to-face interaction.
Before the pandemic, hybrid events were steadily gaining popularity, were largely considered a convenient and flexible solution for conducting business, and their demand is only growing. Future events will be successful in this space, allowing companies of all sizes, types, and budgets. When it comes to hybrid events that offer both in-person and virtual participation opportunities, the features may be similar, but the participation options are multiplied.
Virtual trade shows generate not only new business opportunities but also virtual learning. The first events that, we suppose, will see the light will be those that have little public present, outdoors or closed venues, but with sufficient capacity to keep the so-called “social distance.” Masks, antiseptic gels, disposable tableware, and all kinds of security measures will not only be recommended but probably mandatory.
Sellers and buyers can access www.unitedfreshlive.org 24/7 and see a virtual market up close as well as a training tool for professional development related to food safety, leadership, among others.
What else do we have to do in 2020? Take care of ourselves and others, and thus in 2021, we will see each other in person.