In the past month, it’s become clear the coronavirus (Covid-19) is going to have a profound effect on the exhibition industry. From small stand building companies, exhibition organisers all the way up to the venues themselves, it’s clear most will be affected.
We’re starting to see an awful lot of postponements and cancellations of events and exhibitions, predominantly on mainland Europe at the moment, but it’s only a matter of time until shows in the UK are affected.
Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was probably the highest profile casualty, but on Friday we heard that SXSW, a huge event in Austin Texas was to be canceled. CloserStill Media, one of Pinnacle’s clients recently pushed back their Pharmagora show from March to June 2020. Another of Pinnacle’s clients IPT were due to attend Eisenwarenmesse in Cologne – but at the very last minute the show was postponed for a year, which will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect as it now puts it in direct competition with another large industry show in Stuttgart a couple of months later.
Clients are rightly waiting until the last minute to make decisions about attendance, and are rightly considering the implications of attendance on their staff, but are we at risk of damaging the exhibition industry beyond all recognition?
Though I fully appreciate it’s a particularly nasty illness for the weak and frail in society, I can’t help but feel we’re jeopardising a lot of businesses and venues by continued indecision – and by being ‘too’ safe.
I would imagine we’ll see a lot of events pushed back towards the summer months, where possible, and if venues have the capacity, but this might be too little too late for a number of small businesses that are reliant on this peak period to sustain them.
Pinnacle are lucky in some respects because of the diversity of the services we offer, though the exhibition side of the business has grown exponentially in recent years, it’s still only one aspect of our offering, and in some respects, once we start coming out the other side of this outbreak (much like a recession), marketing and sales will be key to a business getting back on its feet.
I would just like to take this opportunity to wish everyone in the sector the best of luck at this trying time, it’s going to be a bumpy road, but we do seem to be a particularly resilient industry, whatever transpires in the short term, once the industry comes out the other side I am sure yet again we will continue to work harder and faster for our clients.
And to any clients that are reading this and want to ensure there is an exhibition stand contractor that can support them for an event that will be pulled together at the very last moment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch