The Show Must (Virtually) Go On: Trade Shows in the Time of COVID-19

The cancellation of countless live sporting events, concerts and theater performances since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the stay-at-home orders that aim to contain the spread of the virus are among the most prominent examples of how our world has changed over the past few months. A less obvious effect of the lockdowns that limit the size of public gatherings—but one that is no less important to the global economy—has been the cessation of in-person trade shows for the foreseeable future.

Every industry in every country in every corner of the globe has a roster of on-site trade shows, which are often either a regional or national/international event. What’s more, the schedule of these shows is regular enough to tell time by. For instance, if it's time for the M-PACT Show in Indianapolis, it must be March. Packing for that trip to The NACS Show/PEI Convention? Fall has arrived.


While M-PACT 2020 has been tentatively rescheduled for July 2021 and NACS is still planning to hold its biggest event in October in Las Vegas, various industries are now operating in a world of twists, turns and blind alleys with no one truly knowing when or if a trade show—with live human attendees—will actually happen. This casts trade associations, trade show facilitators and the exhibiting companies—the entities for which trade shows play a huge role in keeping the lights on and the doors open—adrift in an ocean of what-ifs, not knowing if or when the ship may run aground.


Get Your Tickets Here!

With COVID-19 stay-at-home orders limiting the size of public gatherings, take a trip to OPW's Virtual Trade Show to explore product demos, brochures and catalogs, and a full suite of educational offerings.


What to do?

OPW Retail Fueling, of Smithfield, N.C., is a leader in the development of environmentally friendly above and underground retail-fueling equipment and systems as well as a company that loves meeting with its clients and business partners on an interpersonal, face-to-face basis. In other words, OPW Retail Fueling loves trade shows, but with most shows canceled or postponed until later this year, and most employees forbidden from making non-essential business trips, those chances for in-person interaction have currently vanished.

At the same time, with fueling stations and convenience stores deemed essential businesses, the owners of those sites need to keep their operations rolling along smoothly without interruption in the expected level of service, safety, or reliability.

So while those in-person meetings at trade shows are put temporarily on hold, OPW Retail Fueling has decided to bring the trade-show experience to the personal computers of its clients.

"We know we're all in this together, and we're trying to minimize interruption to everyone's professional life," explained Ed Kammerer, director of marketing and global product strategy for OPW Retail Fueling. "Since convenience stores and gasoline stations are essential businesses, our job is to help keep their fueling operations compliant, contained and running efficiently, regardless of what's going on in the world."

Since all spring 2020 shows were canceled, and with the status of many of this year's remaining shows clouded in doubt, OPW has created and launched a Virtual Trade Show that keeps the viewer up-to-date on all of the company's innovations in fueling equipment and systems – and can be attended day or night according to the viewer's personal schedule. While observing strict Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) social-distancing guidelines, a fully furnished OPW trade show booth was constructed. A total of 12 different videos were produced, ranging in length from three to 13 minutes, which focus on all aspects of OPW's product and educational offerings, all supported by animations and downloadable collateral material.

Among the highlights of the presentations is a look at three newer OPW Retail Fueling product and service offerings:

  • HiFlo Loop System™: The latest addition to OPW's industry-leading Loop System family of prefabricated and factory-assembled underground fueling systems. This HiFlo version is designed for use at truck stops and hybrid c-stores that have high-speed diesel-fueling lanes. The HiFlo Loop System includes 3-inch product pipes, 6-inch access pipes for retractability, 2-inch shear valves, and satellite loop sumps to accommodate fuel dispensing on both sides of a high-speed truck lane. The result is a "HiFlo" fueling process that allows the driver to spend less time at the fueling island and more time on the road.
  • 14 Series Nozzles: These nozzles eliminate messy forecourts as well as customer irritants – fuel dripping on hands, clothes, shoes and vehicles. This is accomplished through the implementation of revolutionary dripless gasoline and diesel-capture technologies. The 14BP model has free-draining spout technology that makes it the industry's first true dripless nozzle. The 14E nozzle combines dripless-spout technology with an interlock function that has enabled it to become the first dripless nozzle to receive CARB approval. Finally, the 14C model uses patented diesel-capture technology to contain any diesel that remains in the spout. It allows the evacuation of the captured diesel into the fuel stream during the next refueling event.
  • Product Guide App: This new internet-based feature gives fingertip access to datasheets, installation instructions, product videos, and more in one easy-to-use mobile interface. Additionally, users can view products in hi-res, 3-D renderings that act as interactive diagrams. Product components and part numbers are also accessible via clickable callouts and blueprints that can be expanded and rotated to isolate specific parts for detailed analysis. The result is a one-stop source for all information pertinent to OPW's full roster of fueling equipment and systems.


While nothing can replace the actual trade show experience and its many possibilities for in-person interaction, in these times when the "new normal" is still far from being completely defined, a virtual trade show can be a reasonable facsimile. Visit opwglobal.com to learn more about how to attend OPW Retail Fueling's Virtual Trade Show.

This post is sponsored by OPW Retail Fueling