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Covid-19 Rules at Vision Expo, ISC West, MAGIC & Other ’21 Trade Shows


April 29, 2021

What do Vision Expo East, ISC West, MAGIC Las Vegas, World of Concrete, and Black Hat USA have in common this year?

They’re the trade show pioneers of the Coronavirus era.

These shows, which all take place in the summer of 2021, mark the first large, in-person shows in the United States since Covid-19 shut down the entire industry in March, 2020.

Brand ambassadors from TPG Trade Show & Event Marketing model masks at the 2021 Florida Tow Show

If you’re attending, staffing, or exhibiting at one of these shows, or at any in-person trade show in 2021, what specific changes should you expect to your trade show experience? How will entering your venue, walking your exhibit floor, and interacting with your exhibitors look and feel different when the priority is safety, not sales?

By reviewing the Covid-19 health & safety plans these five shows have already announced, we can build a rough composite of the changes all trade shows will likely adopt into 2022. Some of these changes you’ll expect, others will surprise you, and all will turn your show into a whole new experience.



Congratulations! You braved an airplane / train / bus / car / bicycle, and made it to your show.

What changes should you expect as you first approach and enter the venue?

PUT ON YOUR MASK: You saw this coming; you’ll need to wear a mask. Expect all shows to require approved face coverings that fully cover your nose and mouth at all times. Shows may also disqualify some unapproved-but-popular face coverings, like gaiters (which provide no protection from Covid-19). ISC West issued these guidelines on acceptable face coverings for its show; expect other shows to follow suit. UPDATE 5/24/21: At World of Concrete, masks are no longer required, only recommended.

ENTER THROUGH THE “ENTRANCE” DOOR: As you approach an outer venue door, you’ll likely notice it’s labeled “entrance” or “exit.” No more double duty for doors; Vision Expo East, World of Concrete and MAGIC Las Vegas will all designate some doors as “in” doors, and others as “out” doors. This goes for all areas of the venue, from exhibit halls to meeting rooms to restrooms. Look for signage directing you to the right door, and expect a show staffer to (gently) redirect you if you’re heading “in through the ‘out’ door.”

ENJOY THE FRESH AIR! Does the air inside the venue remind you of the outside the venue? That’s because it is. World of Concrete has announced that “the Las Vegas Convention Center’s HVAC systems will remain running throughout the course of the event, designed to introduce fresh air into the building on a constant basis.” (Hopefully it’ll cool the air as well, as Vegas routinely pops 100 degrees during World of Concrete’s June time frame.)

GET YOUR TEMPERATURE CHECKED: Your first official task inside the venue: prove you’re fever-free. All shows will likely require temperature screenings as you enter the venue or exhibit hall. Some will scan you individually with a touch-free forehead thermometer; others will scan everyone simultaneously with thermal temperature scanning. Either way, if your temp is over 100.4F, expect to be denied entry to the show. (Vision Expo East is also issuing a wristband to each person who passes the temperature screening, which must be worn all day. Wristband colors will change daily to ensure you’re scanned daily.)

KEEP YOUR (SIX-FOOT) DISTANCE: All shows will require that everyone maintains a distance of six feet from everyone else. UPDATE 5/24/21: World of Concrete has lowered its distance requirement to three feet.

DON’T HUG OR SHAKE HANDS: Vision Expo East and ISC West have announced “no handshakes / no hugs” rules that amount to this: don’t touch other people. Changing these ingrained habits will take some adjustment. Will handshakes and hugs get replaced by a non-contact greeting, like hand waves or head nods? Time will tell.

READY, SET, WAIT: Remember those carefree days of trade shows past when you could walk into any open area anytime you wanted? Not anymore. Like bouncers at a club keeping the crowd count under the fire code limit, expect event staff to enforce capacity controls that limit the number of people in every enclosed space from elevators to exhibit halls. Expect to wait in many (socially-distant) lines to enter these spaces, maybe until someone else leaves and makes room for you.

YES, THAT DOORKNOB IS CLEAN: MAGIC Las Vegas has announced that event staff will continuously sanitize “high-touch areas” (doorknobs, escalator handrails, elevator buttons, etc.). Event staff carrying disinfectant bottles and rags should be commonplace.

SO. MUCH. HAND SANITIZER. You’ll see hand sanitizing stations everywhere you turn, with signage and staff encouraging you to disinfect your hands regularly.



You’ve entered the venue, passed the temperature scan, and found your way to the exhibit hall entrance. What changes will greet you as you step onto the exhibit floor?

MORE ROOM TO BREATHE: The same capacity controls used for the venue will be used for the exhibit hall. To ensure those in the hall have enough space to stay socially distant, and to comply with state, local and venue requirements for Covid-19, World of Concrete will monitor and limit the number of people in each exhibit hall at a time. Staff will scan the credentials of everyone entering and exiting the exhibit hall, track the head count, and prevent people from entering the hall when it’s “full.” Expect to wait in an entrance line one way or the other, and expect far fewer people in the exhibit hall when you finally make it in.

DIG THAT WIDE, CONCRETE AISLE…: Vision Expo East is widening its aisles to ten feet, and Black Hat USA is mandating “traffic lanes” in its aisles. (It’s unclear if aisles will allow one-way or two-way traffic.) To make cleaning easier, Vision Expo East will leave its aisles uncarpeted, and make carpeting optional for exhibit booths.

…AND THOSE SNAZZY BOOTH DIVIDERS: Like a restaurant partitioning its dining tables, Vision Expo is requiring 8-foot-tall dividers (drape or hardball) to separate side-by-side booths.



As you wander the trade show exhibit floor, what changes should you expect in the exhibit booths themselves? Try these:

FEWER PEOPLE…: As with other areas of the show, Vision Expo East and ISC West are limiting the number of people allowed in an exhibit booth at a given time. Limits are based on industry occupancy guidelines from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO), and presumably include exhibitors and attendees combined. To calculate a booth’s maximum occupancy, divide the booth’s total square footage by 28.3. This formula allows about three people per 100 square feet of booth space, which means a 10×10 booth is allowed up to three people, and a 20×20 booth is allowed up to fourteen people. Vision Expo East will place a sign at each booth showing its maximum occupancy; ISC West is only recommending this limit, not requiring it.

Andy Saks PhotoPlus Olympus New York 2019

Spark owner Andy Saks (on right, in black) presents for Olympus at PhotoPlus 2019. Booths won’t pack in attendees like this for a while.

…AND MORE HAND SANITIZER: Vision Expo East is requiring all exhibitors to offer hand sanitizer at their booths; ISC West again recommends it but doesn’t require it. Expect all shows to follow suit.

FACE SHIELDS: ISC West is requiring anyone who can’t maintain a distance of at least six feet from those around them (such as booth staffers working alongside each other) to wear a face shield in addition to their mask.

CLEANING OF SHARED ITEMS: Vision Expo East is requiring booth staffers to clean any item in the booth after it’s handled, such as a pen, sample product, computer mouse, brochure, etc.

NO BOWLS OF GIVEAWAYS: Instead of leaving piles of candy, pens, stress balls, brochures, catalogs or other giveaways out for attendees to grab (sometimes by the handful), Vision Expo East is requiring all giveaways to be handed out individually by a booth staffer wearing gloves and standing behind a barrier or wearing a face shield.

NO EATING OR DRINKING: Appetizer and drink carts are so 2019. At Vision Expo East, booths may not serve food or beverages to attendees, and attendees and exhibitors may not eat or drink at booths. The only consumption allowed at a booth is exhibit staff drinking “personal beverages” (presumably from a personal bottle).

NO PRODUCT SAMPLES: ISC West is asking exhibitors to avoid giving out sample products entirely.



As you read these trade show safety rules, you might wonder: what happens when someone breaks them? If you attempt to dash into a restroom already at capacity, sneak into the venue through an “out” door, or pull your mask under your nose to sniff that outdoor air as it’s pumped indoors, who’ll stop you?

Sure enough, these trade shows are employing crews of compliance monitors (Vision Expo East calls their monitors “Safety Enforcement Officers”). They’ll stand at entrances and exits, patrol hallways and exhibit aisles, and gently remind anyone they find bending the rules to adjust their behavior.



I’ve worked at over 250 trade shows, and they’ve all shared a high-pitched, frenetic energy. (And t-shirts.) From the mad dash into the exhibit hall when the show opens, to jockeying for position in the food court lines, to sprinting after the shuttle bus that just pulled away, trade shows deliver their own heightened intensity.

In the Coronavirus era, expect that intensity to yield to a slower pace, and an awkward, tentative vibe. Expect fewer people, more empty space, and a lower decibel level. Expect a line to enter every enclosed space, from shuttle buses to food courts to exhibit halls to meeting rooms. Expect some discomfort with personal interactions that used to feel natural and fluid, as everyone negotiates how to greet each other without touching, smile with their eyes, and run a booth demo from a distance. Expect fewer interactions in your day, and fewer goodies in your bag. Expect to see and do less, and to have “less” take longer.

With all these restrictions, should you even go to your show? ABSOLUTELY. Remember the good news: the show is running at all. These restrictions are simply the adaptations required this year to do business face-to-face safely. They’re far better than the outright cancellations we’ve endured for 15 months. And they’ll likely diminish in 2022 and beyond as more people get vaccinated and the Coronavirus (hopefully) abates. Ten years from now, this will be the show you remember, the story you tell industry newcomers about “the Covid-19 year, when we couldn’t even eat in here.”

Just be patient. Smile and breathe through it all. And be a pioneer at these pioneering shows.

I’ll see you on the show floor!



Vision Expo East

ISC West

World of Concrete

Black Hat USA

MAGIC Las Vegas



Founded in 1998, Spark Presentations provides high-impact, professional trade show services that help exhibitors increase their lead quantity and quality, including:

— training to help exhibit staff engage, qualify and educate attendees (updated for the Covid-19 era)

— professional booth emceespresenters, product specialists and assistants

— advanced lead capture / badge scanning technology

— related services like booth presentation scriptwriting and slide design, booth video production, and booth design consulting

Spark also provides professional emcees and live auctioneers for other corporate and nonprofit events, including product launches, sales meetings, traveling shows, and fundraisers.

SONM TechCrunch Ignite 2018

Spark owner, trainer and booth presenter Andy Saks.

Spark’s trade show client list includes dozens of organizations, from well-known corporations like AT&T, Best Buy, FedEx, The Home Depot, Hyundai, Intel, Olympus, Owens-Corning, Samsung, Sony, and Volvo, to high-tech industry players like AMD, Citrix, Symantec, Trend Micro, and Veritas Technologies.

Spark owner Andy Saks is also the author of The Presentation Playbook, which helps businesspeople build and deliver winning presentations.

For more information on Spark services, please contact Andy Saks via email or Spark’s Contact page.


What to Expect at World of Concrete 2021


April 15, 2021

Las Vegas, NV — World of Concrete 2021 is poised to become the first major in-person trade show to run in the United States since covid shut everything down last year.

World of Concrete sign

World of Concrete 2021 is the first major in-person US trade show of the covid era.

If you’re attending or exhibiting at World of Concrete, what changes should you expect from pre-covid trade shows?

If you’re attending or exhibiting at other upcoming trade shows, what can you glean about your show from changes at World of Concrete?

I’ve assembled a detailed primer covering most-common questions about what to expect at World of Concrete and at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.

Note: The public websites providing this information may be incorrect and/or change after publication of this article. Always double-check before making plans.



What is World of Concrete?

World of Concrete is an annual international trade show dedicated to the commercial concrete and masonry construction industries.

The event features indoor and outdoor exhibits with industry suppliers showcasing products and technologies, demonstrations and competitions, and an education program.

Where does World of Concrete take place?

World of Concrete will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, 3150 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89109.

Exhibits will be held in the LVCC West Hall, North Hall, Central Lobby, and Diamond parking lot.

What are the World of Concrete exhibit hall dates and hours?

Tuesday, June 8: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Wednesday, June 9: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Thursday, June 10: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM

(All times are in the U.S. Pacific Daylight Time [PDT] time zone.)

More info here, including dates & times for the Education sessions.

How many attendees are going to World of Concrete?

The show has not released information on expected attendance.

World of Concrete typically draws about 60,000 attendees. The 2020 show, which took place February 3-7 (about a month before trade shows shut down) drew 54,000 attendees.

How many exhibitors are exhibiting at World of Concrete?

The show currently lists 584 exhibitors on its website Exhibitor List. For comparison, World of Concrete 2020 featured 1,310 exhibitors.

What does it cost to go to World of Concrete as an attendee?


The cost for an exhibits-only pass is $80. ($95 after 5/10/21; $105 after 6/5 & during show)


3-Hour Seminars: $160 ($190 after 5/10/21)

90-Minute Seminars: $115 ($145 after 5/10/21)

4-Hour Certification Seminars: $210 ($245 after 5/10/21)

“Super Pass” packages are also available, combining exhibits and education.

More pricing information here.

Can I register for World of Concrete on site? 

No. All attendees must register online in advance. Click here to register.

Is World of Concrete the first trade show to use the new West Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center?

Yes. West Hall was completed in January, 2021 and cost $980 million to build.

LVCC West Hall

World of Concrete will be the first trade show to use the new West Hall at the LVCC.

It totals 1.4 million square feet, including 600,00 square feet of exhibit space, a 14,000-square foot outdoor terrace, and a grand atrium.

Attendees can access West Hall using the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop, a brand-new, $52-million tunnel system 40 feet underground.

Two one-way, .8-mile tunnels and three passenger stations connect West Hall to the Central Lobby and South Halls.

Guests will travel through the tunnel at 35-40 miles per hour in an all-electric Tesla car (driven by a human driver). This will cut travel time between West and North Halls from about 15 minutes of walking to about 1 minute of driving.



How busy is Las Vegas McCarran Airport?

Busy and getting busier. As the state increases capacity limits and more people get vaccinated, crowds are returning. With World of Concrete taking place around the beginning of summer break, expect lots of eager crowds everywhere you go.

Do I have to wear a mask at Las Vegas McCarran Airport? 

Yes. All airport travelers are required to wear a mask that fully covers the nose and mouth. You can purchase masks in airport news and gift stores and from PPE vending machines, and get them free at airport information counters.

Are high-touch surfaces clean at Las Vegas McCarran Airport?

McCarran officials say its custodial teams are routinely wiping all high-touch surfaces like kiosks, escalators, and door handles with disinfectant recommended by the CDC.

What about taxi & rideshare service at Las Vegas McCarran Airport?

Uber and Lyft are still picking up passengers at Las Vegas McCarran Airport.

Rideshare pickup for Terminal 1 is on level 2 of the parking garage. Rideshare pickup for Terminal 3 is on the valet level of the Terminal 3 parking garage. More info here.

Note that the number of Uber and Lyft drivers in Nevada has fallen drastically in the past year, from about 36,500 in March, 2020, to about 13,700 in March, 2021. (Possible reasons include drivers switching jobs, moving out of town, and choosing pandemic unemployment benefits, plus the banning of surcharge pricing during the covid emergency.)

The result is fewer drivers serving more passengers, which is creating long wait times for rides. It’s also opening the door to scammers with Uber and Lyft decals on their cars who claim their passenger canceled on them and offer cash rides to waiting passengers in rideshare pickup areas.

Taxis at McCarran Airport are available as usual. For Terminal 1, taxis are located outside baggage claim through doors 1-4. For Terminal 3, taxis are located outside on Level 0. More info here.

What’s the bottom line on flying into Las Vegas Airport?

Arriving at McCarran is fairly normal these days. Just wear a mask, spread out in line, look for signs announcing changes, consider a taxi instead of Uber or Lyft, and be patient.

More information at McCarran’s Covid-19 Information for Travelers page.



Attendees pack the booth at a Las Vegas trade show. Booths won’t looks like this for a while.

Entering the venue and walking its exhibit aisles will feel very different than a pre-covid trade show.

World of Concrete will be using a series of cleaning and hygiene protocols (which you’ll agree to follow as part of your registration process).

As an attendee or exhibitor, here’s how you’ll experience these cleaning and hygiene protocols moment to moment:

— When you arrive at World of Concrete, you’ll need a mask to enter. (You can get a mask from the show if needed.)

— You’ll use different doors to enter and exit buildings.

— You’ll get your barcode scanned for contactless entry.

— If you visit the registration and customer service areas, you’ll see partitions separating visitors and staff.

— Workers will continuously sanitize public “high-touch” areas, like door handles, restrooms, and food & beverage areas.

— While indoors, you’ll breathe fresh air, with the HVAC systems running continuously to keep fresh air circulating.

— As you approach the exhibit hall, you’ll be screened via thermal temperature scanning to check if your body temperature is over 100.4F.

— Your credentials will be scanned as you enter and exit the exhibit hall, to monitor the number of people on the show floor and ensure people can stay six feet apart.

— You’ll be asked to keep a “3-foot radial distance” (three feet around yourself in a circle) at all times.

— You’ll be encouraged to wash and disinfect your hands regularly at the many sanitation stations throughout the exhibit halls.

— Your trips to the restrooms and in the elevators may involve a wait because of capacity controls.

— If you have an urgent medical question or medical need, the show will provide a “qualified first-aid responder” to help you.



Founded in 1998, Spark Presentations provides high-impact, professional booth services and talent that help trade show exhibitors increase their lead quantity and quality, including:

— attendee engagement training for exhibitor employees (updated for the covid era)

— professional booth emceespresenters, product specialists and assistants

— advanced lead capture / badge scanning technology for exhibitors

— related services like booth presentation scriptwriting and slide design, booth video production, and booth consulting

Spark also provides professional emcees and live auctioneers for product launches, sales meetings, traveling shows, fundraisers, and other corporate and nonprofit events.

SONM TechCrunch Ignite 2018

Spark owner, trainer and booth presenter Andy Saks.

Spark’s trade show client list includes dozens of organizations, from well-known corporations like AT&T, Best Buy, FedEx, The Home Depot, Hyundai, Intel, Olympus, Owens-Corning, Samsung, Sony, and Volvo, to high-tech industry players like AMD, Citrix, Symantec, Trend Micro, and Veritas Technologies.

Spark owner Andy Saks is also the author of The Presentation Playbook, which helps businesspeople build and deliver winning presentations.

For more information on Spark services, please contact Andy Saks via email or Spark’s Contact page.


Veritas books Spark emcee to host virtual conference


January 22, 2021

Santa Clara, CA — IT services company Veritas Technologies has booked Spark virtual event host Julia Reilly to emcee its upcoming Conquer Every Cloud Virtual Conference.

Reilly will greet attendees at login with a recorded welcome message, introduce keynote speakers and technical presentations, and help maintain an energetic, professional atmosphere throughout the event.

The Conquer Every Cloud Virtual Conference features astronaut Scott Kelly, futurist and theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, and Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young in its keynote speaking slots, alongside a lineup of Veritas engineers, product managers and executives. It will close with a live performance from musical guest Train.

Veritas Technologies is an industry leader in enterprise data protection, offering a comprehensive approach to multi-cloud data management that provides protection, availability and insight everywhere information travels.


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