A conversation took place on last week’s Twitter #Expochat, devoting the entire discussion to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on the US and global exhibition industry. Industry leaders Kai Hattendorf, MD/CEO of UFI, David Audrain, Executive Director of SISO, and Julius Solaris from Skift’s EventMB joined me as moderator. PCMA also was active on the chat.
Large exhibitors in the US and Europe are cancelling booths and sponsorships due to fears of the virus spreading – or is it because they are afraid of being sued if employees take ill? Italy just announced some unprecedented closures. A number of US shows are seeing 10% or more of their shows wiped out as Chinese exhibitors are unable to make the journey to the US. Chinese venues and shows all over Asia are having a devastating first quarter of 2020.
It’s important to note that far more shows are taking place than are being cancelled.
Exhibitions are the lifeblood of many, many industries around the world – and countless SME’s. Our exhibitors depend on shows to see current clients, meet prospective customers and promote their services, products and equipment for the next year or selling season. Visitors use expos to be educated, see what’s new, and make purchases to remain successful in their businesses.
ISE in Amsterdam took a hit but have now re-booked even more space for 2021. I applaud how ISE combated social media pressure by cleverly using those same social media channels to their advantage and enlisting exhibitors in those efforts.
Gulfood in Dubai had over 100,000 attendees last week too. According to TSNN.com CONEXPO-Con/AGG a triennial exhibition covering over 2.7 million square feet (270,000 m2) taking place in Las Vegas this March, is not expecting a significant negative effect on their event. The New York Toy Fair just wrapped up a very busy expo, even though many of its Chinese exhibitors were unable to be there.
During the Chat, Kai shared, “The impact of the Coronavirus will be felt for a long time to come. We will prove again the power of face-to-face. But we will see pressure on the business models, and more diverse revenue streams emerging. We will bounce back and change as an industry.“
David followed up with, “I worry that exhibitors from shows that are canceled will find other marketing mediums and question the value of the shows that were canceled.” With the recent news Sony has pulled out of other US shows taking place up through June, they may be doing just that.
On a positive note, take a look what #BarcelonaTechSpirit did in just days after #MWC was cancelled. I agree with both Kai and David that through this tragic pandemic our resilient industry will persevere – and transform. Your thoughts?
Read the full #Expochat here: https://wke.lt/w/s/FxKM-z
Some great sources for up-to-date information:
• UFI: https://www.ufi.org/industry-resources/coronavirus/
• EventMB: https://www.eventmanagerblog.com/coronavirus-law (and more on the site)
• PCMA: https://www.pcma.org