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How CORONAVIRUS is affecting the UK Exhibition industry?

The potential effects of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are becoming evident across all aspects of our lives here in the UK and across the world. Our industry is facing a complex challenge because postponed or cancelled events have a negative financial impact on the entire supply chain.

We must be well aware the organisation of an event combines values across different businesses (transports, restaurants, hotels, venues…) and its cancellation has direct effects on exhibitors and visitors but also indirect consequences for the others categories who benefit from the industry.

The risk event attendance’s percentage will suffer a downturn is concrete but as the EN editor says “we are grateful to the government for not panicking under immense pressure to keep things calm”. Public and Health authorities are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote a guidance for organisers and staff responsible for planning mass gatherings or large events.

The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) CEO Mr. Chris Skeith said: “There have been over 500 exhibitions cancelled around the world so far, and we estimate that’s going to be about £23bn worth of impact on the markets those events serve. But the idea at the moment is the event goes on until it can’t”.

EN editor affirms UK is a major player in the market so we are seeing probably no more than around 1% of UK based event cancellations.

Although UK exhibition industry is very strong on the global stage and GB’s events are cloned all over the international landscape, this was not sufficient to avoid the London Book Fair cancellation (it would have taken place at Olympia centre on 10 and 12 March). Organisers had to make a difficult decision following the advice from the public health authorities but they promise support and collaboration with the exhibitors and visitors who spent money and time to make the event outstanding: we are sure the next year London Book Fair will be better than ever!

However, positive signs come from Confex 2020 at Excel London: it has recorded an increased number of exhibitors who made this conference that gathers event organizers around the world a big success!

The industry associations AIPC, ICCA, UFI and SISO are on the same wavelength with the launch of the global campaign “This event is open for business” to spread a message of resilience and to encourage the attendance in the many confirmed events, always with a special eye on health and safety of staff and visitors.

According to the evolving situation, Grip (an awarded event matchmaking software) is working on a creative technological solution that will allows event attendees to hold meetings via virtual meeting rooms.

CEO of Grip, Tim Groot, is conscious that bringing people together is fundamental for the events industry and he hopes his software will be a valid support to ensure a continuous traders networking.

The software is ready in hybrid version for ITB Berlin but other event organizers such as Messe Berlin, Informa Markets and Encore Media are going to offer the software to their attendees.

This situation might be a business showcasing for new technologies and products: we can’t stop doing business, networking, meeting colleague but why not replicate it by the video conferencing for example? There are options to tackle the threat of the coronavirus and solutions that we should adopt now to make the economy recovery easiest in the upcoming periods.

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