The threat of a global economic slowdown is real amid the outbreak of the global Coronavirus, which has rapidly spread to various parts of the world. First identified in the Chinese province of Wuhan, it has spread to more than 70 countries in just two months. As the economy spirals south, many industries will be impacted, including the meetings and events industry. The $1+ trillion global events industry is staring in limbo as organizers cancel conferences, trade shows, and exhibitions to contain the global outbreak. Many countries such as Switzerland and France have banned events involving a large gathering of people. Add to it, tech giants such as Google and Facebook have canceled their respective events to contain the outbreak from spreading. Here’s a quick look at the current scenario of the MICE industry and the impact of Coronavirus on it.
What’s the total number of people affected by Coronavirus?
According to the statistics of the World Health Organization, more than 100,000 positive cases have been reported across the world, with China alone having more than 80,000 patients. In China, 2,986 deaths have been reported, while 160+ people have died due to the virus around the world.
What are some of the major events canceled due to the virus outbreak?
Although it is hard to count the exact number of events that have been canceled, most of the public gatherings such as music concerts, major conferences, and product launches have been axed or postpone to control the further spread of the virus.
The latest event to be canceled is The South by Southwest music, film, and technology conference. Other events that have been canceled include the London Book Fair (March 10 and 12), Google I/O developers conference and Cloud Next conference, World Bank and IMF spring meetings, CERAWeek energy conference (March 9-March 13), Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit (March 9) and annual F8 developers conference, as well as the ASEAN meeting. Google and Facebook have announced that they might host the conference virtually and restrict attendees from traveling to the conference.
What Are Some Of The Major Tech-Events Being Cancelled?
Below is the list of some of the major tech-events beings canceled worldwide:
- South by Southwest in Austin, Texas
- Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
- Facebook Global Marketing Summit in San Francisco
- Facebook F8 in San Jose, California
- EmTech, Asia in Singapore
- Google News Initiative Global Summit in Sunnyvale, California
- Shopify’s developer conference, Unite, in Toronto
- Google I/O in Mountain View, California
What’s the Economic Impact of These Cancelled Events?
Reports estimate that the economic impact of the tech events that have been canceled has crossed $1 billion. These events draw between 500 and 100,000 attendees every year (Vox).
How Can You Protect Attendees From Coronavirus At Events?
In case you are still considering planning events, then here are some of the steps you should take to keep your attendees safe from this deadly virus:
- Create a preparedness plan to assure your sponsors and attendees that you are serious about the coronavirus outbreak. To create this plan, co-ordinate with the health authorities, circulate literature on the virus and speak to the venue to collectively isolate and combat positive cases.
- Keep informing attendees about the preventive measures you are taking and ask for suggestions or feedback.
- Prepare clear guidelines for attendees to follow at your event and ensure your attendees know about the guidelines set by the WHO and CDC.
- Take the necessary steps to maintain a sanitary environment at your event and raise awareness among attendees about the first signs of infection.
- Keep the information of the nearest hospitals and centers for disease control handy and circulate among attendees.
- Think of hosting a virtual event in case your sponsors and other stakeholders allow. Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, virtual events seem to be the favorite choice among event organizers.
- You can also consider postponing your event if the event is still in the early stages of planning.
What Lies Ahead For The Events Industry?
As the coronavirus continues to spread, the events industry will see a shift in the way it is organized and subtle event etiquette such as handshakes.
There has been an uptick in virtual meetings and destinations are being changed or avoided last-minute as a precautionary step.
In instances where event cancellation or relocation is off the charts, medical personnel may be deployed to screen for the virus at the event. If this isn’t possible, then supplies of hand sanitizers and masks will be made available to guests.
Travel nightmare is expected to soon become a reality, with major airlines curbing their travel frequency or canceling it completely. There is a growing fear of lockdown among travelers since major airlines are in the wait-and-watch mode.
The coronavirus has reached an almost epidemic situation. While most regions are in the relatively low-risk zones, event professionals must stay vigilant and ahead of the developments to ensure the safety of their guests, staff as well their event’s success.