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Convention Industry Struggling During COVID-19 Shutdown
May 27, 2020
Business Travel and Convention Revenues are at a Standstill
According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, an estimated 13,000 trade shows take place in the United States each year. In the US, one of the first restrictions put into place during the Covid 19 pandemic was the cancellation or postponement of all large scale events. Social distancing rules would be impossible to maintain due to the very nature of events where large numbers of people are meant to gather and network. During the current crisis, a survey of 164 convention executives conducted by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) found that more than half of events that couldn’t be held when originally scheduled because of COVID-19 have been canceled outright rather than postponed.
Event centers and convention venues are in the midst of the COVID-19 economic impact.
Economists estimate that business conferences generate more than a trillion dollars in direct spending annually. Every major industry holds a host of trade shows and conferences each year. According to Vox, by April, the Tech Industry alone has direct losses from major events over $1 billion. But it doesn’t stop there. Cancellation of events like Comic-Con are also creating a void. “If we all need six feet of separation, how do you do a ballroom? How do you do a large plenary session?” asked Jan Freitag, a senior vice president at travel consultancy STR.
What will the future look like for conferences, conventions, trade shows and expos?
No one can know for sure what the exact timeline for reopening our country looks like. Some predict as soon as the fall of 2020. However, Cathy Breden, chief executive officer of CEIR, says. “If there’s another lockdown in the fall, shows may not resume until June of next year.” The prospect of having to wait until 2021 is daunting for business in supporting industries. Caterers, hotels and niche businesses providing services like Convention Headshots to vendors are patiently waiting alongside the event planners.
B2B Exhibition Industry compared to the US GDP.
The B2B Exhibitions Industry is paused but it is resilient. While the timing is uncertain, the future will see the reopening of our country. The US Economy will recover and conventions come with it.
Business travel will return, albeit at a snail’s pace, as COVID-19 loosens its grip in the country, and things will go back to a new kind of normal in the world of Expos.