Saturday, May 2, 2009

Re-thinking show etiquette in the swine-flu era

Rumors of exhibitors giving away logo’d face masks at the National Restaurant Association’s upcoming convention are completely unfounded. Ditto for the promise of free Tamiflu inoculations at one vendor’s booth.  I say that with complete assurance because I made up both notions. (Important note to vendors who now have a figurative light bulb above their heads: A copyright fee applies.)   

But more than a few of the social conventions evident at a trade show may well be reconsidered this time around. For instance, the convention is largely a series of awards ceremonies with several hundred booths, seminars and parties mixed in. A handshake is de rigueur for accepting whatever honor is being bestowed. Might that tradition become a victim of the outbreak?   

The same holds true for the obligatory grip-and-grin photo that accompanies each prize presentation. It’ll be a tough adjustment for photographers, so don’t be judgmental if you see a few shutterbugs sulking around the Jim Beam booth.   

You also have to wonder about the taxi line at McCormick Place, which can look around 3 o’clock or so like Section J of Wrigley Field.  Will people start leaving more space between themselves and the next person in the queue? That could extend the line by two or three more miles.   

My prediction: The Ecolab booth will be particularly busy this year as some attendees stop by and beg for a complete spray-down. 

No comments: