A bevy of good news and in-person events held recently signal positive momentum toward a restart of the trade show industry in the United States that effectively has been put on hold since spring of last year. Among the news, it was announced that the business events industry will be represented under a unified voice with the formation of the Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance (ECA), an advocacy group that will champion the common interests of U.S. exhibitions and conferences with legislators. This new coalition of eight industry associations will promote the impact of the sector, drive general industry awareness, initiate legislation on behalf of business events and work with partners globally as needed to maintain a favorable operating environment within the United States.
Here are some more positive updates:
Nev. Gov. Steve Sisolak outlined the reopening timelines for Nevada, that included gathering limits. Beginning Feb. 15, capacity will be increased to 100 people or 35% capacity, whichever is less. Additionally, large gathering plans can be submitted to local health authorities for review. However, any approved large gathering changes cannot occur until after March 1. On March 15, gatherings can be 250 people or 50% capacity, whichever is less. Finally, on May 1 - the goal is to transition authority from state to local governments for mitigation management. This is good news for Las Vegas overall and especially shows like World of Concrete that is scheduled to open in June. HERE is the governor's press conference.
Senate Bill for Events Industry Introduced
A bipartisan proposal geared toward assisting the travel and tourism industries passed a crucial first step with the U.S. Senate’s approval. The measure, put forward by U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), prioritizes the devastated hospitality sector, as Congress works through President Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package.
The amendment was passed as part of the Senate’s budget resolution, which marks an important step towards passing COVID-19 stimulus legislation, Cortez Masto’s office said. It is an assurance that the country’s top lawmakers will prioritize travel and tourism. The most practical measure of the legislation is that the amendment establishes a deficit-neutral reserve fund to support hospitality, conventions, trade shows, entertainment, tourism, and travel and their workers.
“Our communities cannot afford to see these industries decimated, and I’m glad to have passed this bipartisan amendment to expand support for our struggling hospitality sector and provide relief for the workers in the industries hardest hit by this pandemic,” said Cortes Masto in a statement.
Fashion Shows and Surf Expo Held Recently
- Trio of Fashion Shows – Held last week at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center – a trio of fashion shows typically held in Las Vegas every winter, collaborated to offer onsite COVID-19 testing to ensure a safe experience at the shows for thousands of attendees and exhibitors. The shows were Tarsus Group’s Offprice Orlando Market, Informa Markets’ MAGIC Pop-up Orlando and Clarion Events’ WWIN Orlando Showcase.
- Surf Expo - Riding the waves of strong exhibitor and retailer demand for an in-person experience, Surf Expo kicked off the new year with a live trade show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando Jan. 6-8. While the show’s overall size was smaller and less than half the size of the 2020 edition due to the impact of COVID-19 and national and international travel restrictions, buyer to exhibitor ratios increased by 23%. This helped drive significant improvements in overall exhibitor satisfaction, with exhibitor net promoter scores increasing by 63% compared to the 2020 event. HERE is a SISO-sponsored case study on the Surf Expo event.
Existing advocacy initiatives, Go LIVE Together and Exhibitions Mean Business, will continue under ECA and carry out their respective mission - Go LIVE Together in advocating for federal COVID-19 recovery funding and Exhibitions Mean Business in promoting the value of face-to-face and the economic impact of exhibitions at the local, state and national levels. Douglas Emslie, who is managing director of Tarsus Group and an ECA board member representing SISO, said of the current positive momentum in the industry: “The last few weeks have begun to see the fruits of our industry’s labors over the past year. GO Live Together have worked with Informa, Clarion and Tarsus on their Fashion events in Orlando to prepare invaluable lobby assets in terms of a detailed study of the impact of our All Secure measures and a video documentary of these processes in action,”
He added, “In addition, we have made substantial progress on a reopening of Las Vegas and are working closely with Sen. Cortez Masto on her bill to get must needed financial support for our industry.” Herve Sedky, president and CEO of Emerald and an ECA board member representing SISO as well, said of Emerald and industry efforts: “As we are all keenly aware, 2020 presented our world with the rise and spread of COVID-19, which continues to present our industry with unprecedented change. As a result, we have been driven to challenge ourselves to think outside the box and respond with unparalleled creativity, thoughtfulness, and resourcefulness. We at Emerald will remain firmly committed to the existing advocacy initiatives set forth by SISO and Go LIVE Together, and excited to drive further awareness of the U.S. exhibitions and conferences industry via the newly formed Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance (ECA).”
Looking to the Future
A Wall Street Journal opinion piece was posted Feb. 19 that said herd immunity could be reached by April with the current amount of people who already have had COVID-19 and the vaccinations taking place. Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at John Hopkins University, wrote the piece, that read in part: “There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.” We all are hoping this is the way it plays out.
Sedky said of the future: “Looking to the year ahead, we remain hopeful that the rollout of the vaccination will mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and allow for more in-person events to trade through the second half of 2021. We have experienced an early glimpse of what industry recovery looks like at Emerald, and we are poised to return as the pandemic recedes and shows start to stage once again. Safely trading two in-person events over the last few months - International Gift Expo of the Smokies and Surf Expo – clearly showcased the vital role face-to-face events play in driving connections, commerce, and growth while delivering real optimism for the future of our industry. Going forward, our focus at Emerald is to identify ways to better serve our customers, our communities, and the industries they serve by producing secure, safety-first live events and 365-day channels.”