By: Rachel Wimberly, Tarsus Group US
Reproduced with permission from Rachel Wimberly. For the original article, click here.
Running a news organization that is focused on trade shows and corporate events, both of which have been stopped in their tracks since mid-March when COVID-19 firmly took hold in the United States, I view our main responsibility to not only report on what is happening in our industry, but also try to highlight as much of the ‘positive’ news as possible.
Once the first wave of canceled shows came in one right after another, and we reported on several of them for TSNN and Corporate Event News, it became clear the hits would keep on coming, so we switched our focus.
More reports were released indicating COVID-19’s severe impact on trade shows, meetings, hospitality, travel and the overall economy in the U.S. CEIR held webinars that shared survey findings on the impact of COVID-19 on B2B show organizers and the decisions they are making as well as economic updates that showed scenarios of when the industry will recover.
Again, we wrote up articles on some of those, albeit most of the reports were depressing and told everyone what they likely already were experiencing in their own companies. But then, there were small lights that started to shine at the end of what initially seemed was a very long tunnel.
The GBAC Star Accreditation Program launched indicating a pathway forward for venues to ensure they were following strict health and safety standards once people came back to events onsite. The Go Live Together coalition was formed with thousands of companies signing on to support, funding taking place and a high-powered lobbying group hired to advocate for moving trade shows out of Phase 5 for ‘mass gatherings’ in most states (among other efforts). The Exhibitions Mean Business campaign has been working with the Go Live Together and has sent out timely action alerts rallying the exhibitions community to voice their need of relief to legislators.
Shows started to run again in early May in China, the epicenter of the initial cases, with attendees flocking back to events including the Hunan (China) Auto Show that drew 62,000 attendees. Countries in other parts of the world like Germany, Switzerland and most recently the United Kingdom released dates events could start up again.
The Las Vegas Strip opened its casinos, and cities, venues, suppliers to the industry and hotels overall started releasing detailed health and safety plans. In the past few weeks, trade shows like the ones that were held at the Dallas Market Center in June, started to slowly pop up again, and there have been more since.
The Together Again Expo happened recently in Orlando, bringing together suppliers and trade show/meeting planners in a safe environment to learn how to have their own ‘safe’ events.
I have posted quite a bit of this ‘good news’ on LinkedIn along the way. I felt it was important to be a ‘cheerleader’ for the industry as much as possible during what are incredibly challenging times.
It has been utterly heartbreaking seeing the profound impact on so many incredible companies and individuals, and I hope business can get rolling again as soon as possible for everyone.
I proudly have written on the trade show and events industry for more than 15 years, and I have no doubt whatsoever it will be back here in the U.S. The people I have met along the way are some of the smartest, most creative and resilient professionals possible, and I cannot wait to see them face to face once again.
Rachel Wimberly is EVP of business development for Tarsus Group, US, and oversees the Tarsus Media division, including TSNN and Corporate Event News.