05 Jul 2020

Digital Dialogue Drives Fact-Filled Discussion on Show Cleaning and Safety

WASHINGTON – Trade Show Executive Chairman and President and CEO of United Service Companies, Rick Simon, served as the Subject Matter Expert for a recent digital summit on “Safety is Job One,” hosted by Lippman Connects and its new informational series, Digital Summit: 90 Minutes on the Most Urgent Issues.  

Simon says these types of events allow the exchange of information that is useful and correct. “Simply put: there is too much misinformation out there,” said Simon. He referred to these actions as “Sanitation Theater,” or opportunities to make attendees and exhibitors feel safe.

Related. Precautions to Take as America Reopens: A Q&A with Patty Olinger, Executive Director, Global Risk Advisory Council

“The best course of acion is to consult a group of people that is well-informed on the topic, like GBAC, IAEE, and IAVM, for an exchange of ideas and collaboration. This means do everything that is necessary, but not that which is unnecessary. The Global Biorisk Advisory Council, along with the leaders from IAEE and IAVM, has spent hundreds of hours going over every aspect of our industry — from disinfection and sanitation protocols to the placement of hand sanitizer stations and guidelines for service contractors,” said Simon. “The scientists who developed these procedures did so with the intention of creating what they believe is a scientific process to keep people safe in public venues. Let’s follow their instructions and move forward.”

As enhanced safety measures are put into place, the cost of providing sanitizers and disinfectants and the labor fees to apply them is reflected in the bottom line. Estimates from some show organizers range from an increase of 15% more to offer an event, while another said twice as much to produce a show or market for half as many people. According to Simon, providing hand sanitizer and chemical disinfectants for a 100,000 nsf show could run about $4,500 per day.

As President and CEO of United Service Companies, a cleaning and security provider to thousands of trade shows each year in the United States, he provided insights into how new cleaning protocols and GBAC will impact show management. 

“Actually, to quote pricing is a little more complicated. There are many factors to take into consideration, such as local labor costs and attendees. The intended message here is that it could cost as little as $4,500 or possibly more,” said Simon. “Many show managers I’ve spoken with have had much higher figures in mind, especially after seeing ads on television with the guys in the ‘space suits’ spraying chemicals everywhere. (This is one example of ‘Sanitation Theatre’). With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to talk with your general service contractor or someone that actually does this in trade events, to get a true picture of what’s actually needed to make these spaces safe.

While talking with a venue host, Simon explained, one should determine if the area has the necessary gross square footage (gsf) to accommodate social distancing for attendees, exhibitors and staff. Simon shared a formula taking the venue’s gsf minus 10% for displays; reduce the estimated attendance by 20% for no-shows and cancellations; and divide the adjusted gsf by the adjusted attendance number. As long as the venue has at least 28 gsf per attendee, the show is in compliance with social distancing.

Lippman Connects Digital Summit occurs on Fridays and lasts 90 minutes. Small but impactful, these are only open to 15 industry professionals and experts. Particpants are eligible for 1.5 clock hours towards CEM recertification. Topics are selected by a survey of leading event executives. The next summit is scheduled on July 10 and will focus on bringing back exhibitiors and sponsors. Learn more here:

Reach Rick Simon at (800) 248-8558 or; Sam Lippman at (703) 979-4904 or