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Thursday, October 28, 2021

CONXEMAR Round-up Part 1: The New Normal is Surprisingly Like The Old Normal

Team Dealboard recently attended CONXEMAR, the International Fair of Frozen Seafood organized by the Spanish Association of Wholesalers, Importers, Processors and Exporters of Fisheries and Aquaculture Products. While there, we engaged in 120 conversations with representatives from over 100 companies in the seafood industry. We share our observations about the CONXEMAR event, the current state of the seafood industry, and the impact of COVID in this multi-part series.

CONXEMAR was one of the first in-person seafood industry events of its scale to be conducted after rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Following the extended lockdown of the pandemic, and the “Zoom-itis” which many of us adapted to in our work and personal lives, it was truly wonderful to gather together in person once again. Energy, optimism and warm reunions filled the exhibit hall.

The CONXEMAR team is to be commended for their handling of the event – it felt safe, largely due to the extensive protocols in place including strict access monitoring and temperature checks at entry points. Add to that consistent use of masks plus the hand sanitizer provided by nearly every exhibitor, and it felt like the risks of congregating were reasonably mitigated.

But almost 2 years of social distancing didn’t cause certain pre-COVID behaviors to disappear. Exchanging a hand shake along with a business card was surprisingly common. And, true to norms of cultural etiquette, you could still spot instances of greetings accompanied by a kiss on the cheek. How quickly, as we venture out from our COVID-induced separation, we revert to traditions, customs and long-learned behaviors.

All of this reminds us that at our core, we are human animals. We have evolved to prioritize and to require social interaction for our survival. Videoconferencing was a growth industry during the pandemic, and this gave us ways to work remotely, to meet remotely, to communicate and to keep in touch as we lived in our separate bubbles. But, as great as videoconferencing technology is, there is no substitute for real, face-to-face engagement. Videoconferencing doesn’t feed the soul with the richness of human connection we need to thrive.

It’s great to see that such events are possible again, if well managed. And, it’s great to see how much all the participants are able to get out of them. If this is The New Normal, it’s comfortingly familiar.

How are you incorporating older traditions and habits into your New Normal?