How Major Shows this Spring Are Forging Ahead Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak
In the wake of the expanding coronavirus outbreak mainly within China, but spreading to other countries by the day, the massive Mobile World Congress in Barcelona decided to cancel its show after a slew of major tech firms pulled out citing safety concerns.
While this event is just one of many global trade shows grappling with coronavirus concerns, fears of the COVID-19 virus are not stopping major U.S. trade shows from going forward as planned — but with some extra precautions.
TSNN reached out to several shows on the U.S. trade show calendar in the next few months to find out how they are dealing with the situation.
Set for Feb.26-28 in Orlando
Andrew Darmohraj, Executive Vice President and COO, American Pet Products Association
The coronavirus will impact approximately 150 of Global Pet Expo exhibitors who are based in China. The show has been in contact with these exhibitors, and the vast majority have notified us that they will not be exhibiting and will not have outside representation available to take their place at this year’s show.
Additionally, any foreign nationals that have visited China within 14 days of arriving in the U.S., are barred from entering the United States. Therefore, these attendees will not be able to participate in this year’s Global Pet Expo.
Organizers are not worried about the overall attendance at this time, however. Currently, 1,000 companies from 28 countries will be exhibiting. Buyer registration continues to be strong, says Darmohraj, and they are expecting more than 7,000 buyers from 80 countries.
Global Pet Expo is posting regular updates to its website and through attendee communications, and is working closely with the venue — Orange County Convention Center — to stay in the know on potential health risks that could affect the show.
Set for March 9-13 in Orlando
Karen Malone, Vice President of Meeting Services & Exhibits
HIMSS continues to closely monitor the coronavirus situation, as they are dedicated to providing regular updates to our community, says Malone. The health risk of coronavirus for the general American public is considered low at this time, according to the latest summary from the CDC.
While HIMSS20 is proceeding as scheduled, event organizers are in direct conversation with attendees and exhibitors from affected regions to accommodate their cancellations. Four weeks out from the show, Malone says less than 1 percent of attendees are from areas that are part of the current travel ban, and that overall registration is still trending upward by 15 percent.
Every year, the global health conference creates an emergency response plan, and this year, it’s expanded the reach of procedures to include the counsel of local health systems. In addition, plans are in place to have three medical offices on site. One of the medical offices will be dedicated to addressing flu-like symptoms and will be staffed with a nurse who will have direct access to the Florida Department of Health and an epidemiologist.
Set for March 10-14 in Las Vegas
Megan Tanel, Senior Vice President, Construction and Utility Sector
The top priority is health and safety of all participants at CONEXPO-CON/AGG & IFPE 2020, including attendees, exhibitors, vendors, staff, industry partners, and others involved in the show, says Tanel. The broad majority of exhibitors and attendees for these shows come from North America — so overall, the expected cancellations of China-based exhibitors and attendees will have a very limited impact on the shows, representing less than 2 percent of the almost 2.7 million net square feet of exhibit space and 1 percent of registrations. These newly available spaces will be offered to the companies on the waiting list.
Registrations are pacing well ahead of previous shows and are on track to be the largest CONEXPO-CON/AGG & IFPE events in history, says Tanel. They’re encouraging exhibitors and attendees to take common-sense precautions by using hand sanitizer and following guidelines set by the CDC when they are on-site at the show. Additional hand sanitizer stations will be in place.
Set for April 18-22 in Las Vegas
Chris Brown, Executive Vice President, Convention and Business Operations
The coronavirus has not had a direct impact on the show; in fact, exhibit and sponsorship sales have been up in recent weeks, says Brown. Still, they are not taking anything for granted. Show organizers are dedicating resources to monitoring the coronavirus situation closely — and following the advice of the World Health Organization and the CDC — to ensure the safety of attendees.
It’s vital that the event go forward for the thousands of businesses and people from across the globe who make NAB Show the most important media/tech trade show of the year, says Brown. He notes that it’s too early to tell if coronavirus will have an impact on overall attendance.
Organizers are working closely with Chinese exhibitors to understand their needs and evaluate their options. They have created a dedicated support team to provide rapid responses, address specific questions, and provide additional support to all members of the global show community as they finalize their participation plans. NAB is also developing a resource page on its website, which will be updated regularly as the situation evolves, and plans to put extra sanitation efforts on-site to prevent illness. Additional medical personnel on hand to address any issues that might arise.