Summer 2020 Update from CEIR CEO, Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM

Summer 2020 Update from CEIR CEO, Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM

CEIR CEO Cathy Breden provides a summer update to the state of the B2B exhibitions industry and remains optimistic that the industry will recover.

Here in Dallas we are in the height of the summer heat. It is the time of year where most “Dallasites” spend their time indoors. A pool can be refreshing in the evening, but during the day can feel like a hot tub. Some like it hot while others wish for cooler weather. We are a resilient bunch, riding the wave of summer, enjoying vacation, the time with family and friends, and preparing for a return to school or in our case, the busy show season.

The summer of 2020 is different and has wreaked havoc on us all. Nothing is normal – for any of us. We muster hope by watching countries in the east, and some in Europe, return to a normal that is not “normal.” Will it ever be normal again? If it were not for the devastation over the past few months – on people’s lives and their mortality, this exercise in “nothing is normal” reminds me that now, more than ever, resiliency is important.  In the words of Elizabeth Edwards, “Resilience is accepting your new realities even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put something together that’s good.”

We, collectively as the exhibitions and events industry, are fighting hard to prepare for when we can return to producing events, getting people back to work and bringing people together to conduct business. Many organizations have written guidance documents on how to safely and effective return to events. Exhibitions Mean Business and Go LIVE Together, along with U.S. Travel Association and many others have banded together to communicate the impact of exhibitions on local communities and the economy in general.

Organizers have already adapted and demonstrated resilience by moving events that cannot be held live to a digital environment. CEIR released the June pulse poll of organizers which revealed that 73% of them will not hold their events in 2020. Of the exhibitions that have postponed, 63% have a virtual event back-up plan in the event the show needs to be cancelled. Here in the U.S. the federal administration in Washington D.C. has no national strategy for getting the virus under control, ceding those decisions to the states and local governments and exhibitions are categorized as mass gatherings rather than controlled environments.

Like many before us who fully intend to hold their event, CEIR has every intention of holding Predict: CEIR’s Annual Outlook Conference on 22 September at the MGM National Harbor, just outside of Washington, D.C. We are closely watching what is happening in Prince George County, MD with the counts of cases and the stage of phased opening. We need to come together and although we may not hug one another or shake hands, we will at least be together.

We have a great program planned and if you are an exhibition organizer you will be able to attend as a hosted attendee by one of our wonderful sponsors. Predict will look and feel different with a limited capacity at the live event but the programming will be as it always has been – giving attendees a perspective on the future; what may it look like and what does your business need to do now to prepare for it. We cannot focus on just the next 12 months – we must look further out. I look forward to seeing you either at the live event or the online event. It will be great!

Wishing you health,

Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM


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