By: Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM
When I began writing this article for the quarterly newsletter several weeks ago, I never thought our industry would be in the situation it is. My thoughts go out to those whose families and colleagues have been personally impacted by this illness; there are many. My heart breaks for those who have been furloughed or laid off, and even more so for those who have not survived the illness.
Remember when our greatest concern was how trade tensions would impact trade shows? Since then, COVID-19 has disrupted our industry like nothing we could imagine. The economics of it all is more than I can wrap my brain around. When CEIR reports the next economic impact statement, I’m fairly confident it will be more than $22 billion.
As organizers, we plan for the unknown and are able to pivot pretty quickly in most instances, but this crisis is one none of us could have been prepared to meet. We do know that new trends will emerge from this experience; we will never go back to the “normal” way of doing business. Our industry will need to adapt to a new normal, and what this means is yet to be known.
This will be a time for innovation with new businesses being borne from COVID-19. There are many “virtual” tools emerging. How might these tools be used when we return to the live experience? Organizers will likely have in their contingency plans pivoting to some online element, as an example. There are many unknowns as well. Will our attendees and exhibitors feel safe being in large crowds? How might we make them feel comfortable?
I am a positive person and although I feel like I’ve been hit with a brick, I know our industry is incredibly resilient and I am confident we will recover and get back on track – it may be a new track, but that is ok. Winston Churchill said it best, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”