It might not seem it from the news, but despite the growing threat from the COVID-19 outbreak, risk remains low in most parts of the U.S., and more meetings and conferences are going on as planned over the next couple of months than are canceling.
A small sampling of large events that will be taking place in the next few weeks include CONEXPO-CON/AGG in Las Vegas, March 10-14, expecting more than 125,000 attendees; American Academy of Dermatology in Denver, March 20-24; 3rd Annual Formulation & Drug Delivery Conference in San Diego, March 17-18; and The Special Event/Catersource (produced by MeetingsNet’s parent company, Informa) in Las Vegas, March 9-12.
In the meetings industry, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence has announced that it will go ahead with the Incentive Summit Europe in Davos, Switzerland March 26-29, as well as the Incentive Summit Americas in Beaver Creek, Colo., April 2-5. While the Swiss government has canceled events of 1,000 attendees or more until March 15, smaller events are not under any restrictions. The Davos event is expecting 50 attendees.
“Regrettably, some media sources have published false or misleading data relative to COVID-19, giving rise to fear and panic and leading to the cancellation of meetings, incentive travel experiences, and events in locations where the risk of transmission of the virus is negligible or zero, wrote SITE President Jenn Glynn, CIS, CITP, to members of the association. “SITE is uncompromisingly committed to ensuring the health, wellbeing, and safety of all attendees at our events. We are in contact with the relevant global and national health authorities and monitoring the evolving situation with respect to COVID-19 in Switzerland and the U.S. on a daily basis. To date we have received no information that would cause us to cancel or postpone either ISE or ISA.”
Meetings and conventions braving the outbreak are establishing new protocols to limit the possibility of virus transmission. The most common are:
• upgrading cleaning protocols for each venue
• making hand sanitizing gel easily available to attendees
•asking that elbow-tap greetings replace handshakes
In other news, industry associations are offering a number of webinars to help meeting professionals through the COVID-19 crisis. The Events Industry Council will run “COVID-19: Discussion of Critical Insurance and Legal Considerations for Event Professionals” on Friday, March 6 at 12:30 ET, and the Professional Convention Management Association, working in conjunction with the Corporate Event Marketing Association, has announced a new webinar series on issues surrounding the outbreak:
March 10, 3:30pm CT: Get the Facts on COVID-19
March 12, 1:00pm CT: Is Your Event Covered in a Crisis Situation?
March 17, 1:00pm CT: Crisis Contract Preparedness for Suppliers
March 19, 1:00pm CT: Lessons Learned from Toronto’s 2003 SARS Outbreak