I’m going to follow Jennifer’s “Next Steps” editorial and start with this: It’s been exactly a year since I last flew anywhere, stayed in a hotel, took an Uber, or sat in a conference room with my colleagues. That trip in early March 2020 took me to the New York offices of Emerald (Healthcare Design’s parent company) for some corporate training.

I expect most of you don’t know much about Emerald (emeraldx.com), but it’s worth noting that the HCD Expo & Conference is just one of 140-plus live events in its portfolio. When the world shut down and in-person gatherings ground to a halt, Emerald (like everyone) shifted and regrouped—but the importance of resuming live events was never in question. Attendees and exhibitors alike value these face-to-face, all-in-one opportunities enormously, and they’re eager to get them back. Recent large-scale survey findings from trade show organizations and event specialists bear this out.

If you feel the same way, you’ll be pleased to know that HCD Expo has sibling shows wading back into the market already, providing valuable case studies and lessons in safe staging for a pandemic-leery public. For example, Emerald’s Surf Expo—serving buyers and retailers in the water sport market—was held successfully in January in Orlando, Fla., with more than 1,000 exhibitors across 100,000 square feet of space.

In a case study published by the Society of Independent Show Organizers and the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, Surf Expo participants and show organizers from Emerald shared details on the protocols adopted to keep people safe and discussed how it all played out.

“The opening day of the show was our single best day at a trade show ever,” said one vendor, whose team had driven eight hours to participate in Surf Expo. “The show has done a good job with the safety measures like the wristband for temperature checks. Someone always stopped me at the door to check it.”

With COVID-19 vaccinations becoming more and more widespread, things are already looking up for a busy fall season of travel and events. And between now and the end of October when HCD Expo takes place in Cleveland, Emerald will continually hone its expertise in safe show practices. I’m grateful to be part of this team and, honestly, I can’t wait to get back into my travel routine. For more information on Emerald’s event perspective and policies, I encourage you to check out the Surf Expo case study.