United Fresh rolls out virtual 2020 LIVE! show plans

United Fresh rolls out virtual 2020 LIVE! show plans

The United Fresh Produce Association is unveiling its plans for a virtual show, United Fresh LIVE!, after the organization cancelled its annual in-person show because of the COVID-19 crisis.

During the first of three online web meetings April 1-3 for exhibitors, sponsors and attendees, United Fresh gave examples of what booths and the overall United Fresh LIVE! show, which is the week of June 15, will look like.

About 150 people were online for the April 1 meeting, and several attendees asked about the costs of the virtual booths.

“Whatever you had paid for the booth, today, we’re asking if you’d consider leaving that amount with us,” said Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh Produce Association.

The booth fees will help with the cost of setting up the online experience, he said, and hopefully the money that exhibitors save on hotels and flights will offset that. The basic booth price for the in-person San Diego show started at $3,700.

The virtual conference registration is free. The all-access registration for San Diego’s in-person show was $1,000 and $300 to walk the expo floor only. 

“We made the tough call that it’s going to be free to all of our users and be supported by you, quite frankly, our exhibitors and sponsors, but the goal is to get more people on this site,” Stenzel said during the April 1 web meeting. “The comment someone made is, ‘We want 5,000 people actively using it, not 500 people who paid us for the privilege.’ So that’s going to be a big part.” 

The free registration could mean a broader reach for exhibitors’ target customers, he said.

One exhibitor asked if she can downsize her booth from 10 feet by 20 feet to 10 feet by 10 feet because her company is unfamiliar with the new concept. 

“Give us a couple weeks before you make that as a final decision. We’d really like the chance to show you what else you get with a 10-by-20,” Stenzel said.

If exhibitors choose to downsize, United Fresh “is not going to keep anybody’s money over your objections,” he said, besides a cancellation fee similar to other shows.

Attendees also wanted to know what kind of add-on value larger exhibitors and major sponsors can expect.

“We’re now in the process of putting together a list of complete upgrades you can get with the higher levels of exhibit or sponsorship,” Stenzel said. “It’s amazing what we’ll be able to do with it.”

There’s a virtual lobby with sponsorship opportunities, and targeted marketing is possible by knowing who is on the site at any time. 

“So, if you’re a fruit company that wants to meet a particular type of retail buyer, we’ll be able to allow you to do direct marketing to those individuals within the site,” Stenzel said. “We’ll also do some push marketing outside the site to make sure they know to come to your booth on the live platform.”

Companies that paid higher booth fees can expect a higher level of access points, metrics, data, push-out marketing and specialized opportunities.

Show organizers need at least a week to finalize a list of extras higher-paying exhibitors and sponsors will receive.

“If you can stick with us as exhibitors, we’re going to work our tails off to make sure we’re giving you an ROI that’s well worth what you put in for your exhibit fees,” Stenzel said. 

John Toner, vice president of convention and industry collaboration, is working with exhibitors on the new show plans. He can be reached at [email protected]

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