The event planning industry has taken a huge hit from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In mere weeks, the world has been transformed and those who work planning large conferences, shows, and other gatherings have been thrown into turmoil.
The event planning business generates $325 billion of direct spending in the United States, according to a 2018 Oxford Economics and Events Industry Council study. The industry supports more than 5.9 million jobs nationally and produces nearly $3 billion dollars of labor income.
That’s a lot of event planners, their clients, colleagues, and exhibitors who have been affected.
So, what now? Not all events transition well to online summits. Trade shows and craft shows, like the kind we produce at Kessler Promotions, are about engagement with all five senses. Our customers want to chat with a vendor, feel the texture of the products, inhale the aroma, mull the purchase.
These large in-person events obviously cannot be held during this time of social distancing. It’s enough to make an event coordinator feel like Ross and Rachel trying to get the large and heavy sofa up the narrow and steep staircase. Sometimes yelling “Pivot!” isn’t enough.
Networking events will always be a crucial part of doing business. Trade shows are places where valuable professional connections are forged, ideas are exchanged, and life-long clients are introduced.
These events feed careers, fuel businesses, and inject energy into the local economy.
What we can do now as an industry is prepare for a bright future. We can make plans for even better shows that provide innovative and interesting ways to connect our exhibitors to their customers. We can don those thinking caps and get creative. Research, organize, and outline the ideas.
Eventually life will settle, perhaps into a new normal. Event coordinators will be ready for it.