The 1927 Fifth Solvay Conference on Electrons and Photons.

Shall we not start with coronavirus this issue? Someone has to change the subject!

I just came online across a photo I’ve seen before in several TV documentaries. It’s been called the most intelligent picture ever taken, and is of the 1927 Fifth Solvay Conference on Electrons and Photons in Brussels.

This event saw the emerging quantum theory originated by Max Planck (front row, second from left) being accepted into the mainstream. But debate was quite fierce. Unhappy with the uncertainty principle of Werner Heisenberg (back row, third from right), Albert Einstein (front row, fifth from left) was insisting “God does not play dice”. Niels Bohr (middle row, far right) snapped back “Einstein, stop telling God what to do”. Also present were Erwin Schrödinger (back row sixth from left, the cat came later), and Marie Curie (front row, third from left).

17 of the 29 were or became Nobel Prize winners. The meeting defined the course of physics right up to the present day. If you’re ever uncertain about the legacies of business and professional events, just look at this photo.

Three Iceberg partners are certainly making News in this issue of Business Events World. UFI, the exhibition industry’s global association, has named five remarkable winners of 2020’s Next Generation Leadership Grant. IMEX Group is launching a virtual experience on May 6th featuring interactive islands. It’s called PlanetIMEX. Plus, after another round of coronavirus relief was passed by the US Congress without including professional and trade groups, there are signs legislators are becoming aware of the need to widen eligibility. ASAE and thousands of US associations have been pressing the case.

Also in News this issue, COVID-19’s impact is measured in four different ways. A key activity for over 35 percent of eventprofs now working from home is improving their education. Sector recovery may be quick, but with a venue capacity shortage lasting into 2021, 38 percent of the UK events industry believing that enquiries and bookings will surge back in September. So say a briefing from The Business of Events and also a survey from the Business Visits & Events Partnership, covered across two articles. Meeting Professionals International has published first results of an ongoing industry survey. 58 percent of respondents said employees at their organisation have either been furloughed or made redundant. Meanwhile, Australia’s economy is on course to lose AU$35.7 billion in direct spend over the next twelve months, according to latest figures from the Business Events Council of Australia. 92,000 industry job losses are expected there.

In other coronavirus News, the Bureau International des Expositions has in principle agreed to postponing Expo 2020 Dubai until 2021. A formal vote will complete on May 29th. AIM Group International has turned a face-to-face medical conference into a wholly online meeting. The Italian Academy of Prosthetic Odontology (AIOP) congress was booked into the Riccione Convention Centre. In a move sure to be replicated across all of destination marketing, the Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB), partnering with other national agencies, has launched a new sanitation and hygiene standards initiative, which PricewaterhouseCoopers will audit. The UK’s Twickenham and AMEX Stadiums, both significant event venues, have become drive-through virus testing facilities for healthcare and essential workers. Plus, in the weeks since novel coronavirus has ravaged the industry, event professionals have banded together in the fight against the pandemic. Competitors have collaborated to form groups like Live for Life and Go LIVE Together in the US, and also Events4Covid19 in Portugal.

All twelve Opinions this issue are fresh. Three are about how the industry has been offering services on the COVID-19 front line. There’s a roundup of the way venues like the Los Angeles Convention Center have helped out during the pandemic, and another about the different support they’re offering, like housing healthcare workers and donating food. Plus, please read Ana Carrazon’s inspiring account of serving as a volunteer at the emergency IFEMA Hospital. Before coronavirus she was working as the Madrid venue’s Congress Sales and Logistics Expert.

Three Opinions cover industry recovery. A webinar was held on “Restarting Events in a COVID-19 World”. Chaired by Karrikins Group Founder Peter Sheahan, the speakers included the PCMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat, the Senior Director of Global Industry Marketing at Microsoft Kati Quigley, together with the President of Iceberg partner Maritz Global Events David Peckinpaugh. A second article examines timing and what events will look like once the lockdowns have been lifted. Plus, now virtual meetings are necessary, acceptable and even habitual, the crisis has already changed the industry beyond recognition. Social distancing and hygiene protocols will also transform. Pádraic Gilligan’s provocative viewpoint prompted a fascinating response from BESydney’s Lyn Lewis-Smith (and see the Azerbaijan story in News)

The COVID-19 crisis is a great time for associations to rethink the way they work and deliver value to members. The Advisory Board of Iceberg partner Boardroom, in the second part of a series, talks rethinking revenue streams. Matthias Schultze, the GCB (German Convention Bureau) Managing Director, has been talking virtual and hybrid events with Christina Buttler, the MCI Germany Director of Strategy and Innovation. MCI is an Iceberg partner. From creating virtual trade shows to turning short events into multi-week offerings, planners are also getting creative as they pivot meetings to virtual. Tokyo-based Congress Corporation sent Boardroom a letter outlining the current status of the Japanese events industry. Congress President Noriko Takeuchi has been among those lobbying for government relief, wearing her other hat as the Vice President of the Japan Convention Management Association (JCMA). Women in leadership roles across the industry are the subject of another must-read editorial in Opinions. Plus, how the rescheduled Expo 2020 Dubai should become a global celebration of the COVID-19 crisis being over.

There are three additions in Features this issue. Durban ICC has been voted “Africa’s Leading Meetings and Conference Centre” by the World Travel Awards seventeen times. But some of the venue’s greatest legacies lie in environmental sustainability. Australia’s business events landscape is surveyed in a rich and remarkable collection of articles. BESydney’s Lyn Lewis-Smith, ICC Sydney’s Geoff Donaghy and the team behind the Joint Meetings Industry Council case studies all contribute. Plus, a video double bill! Professor Greg Clark talks about business events and the future of cities. The urbanist was recorded during Iceberg partner AIME (the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event) this February.

In Research you’ll find added PR agency Davies Tanner’s COVID-19: Business Events Recovery Sentiment Survey produced jointly with BVEP (the Business Visits & Events Partnership). There are also two COVID-19 briefings linked in the piece (see below). PCMA (the Professional Convention Management Association) Convene has another survey, COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard, which is great on whether virtual could wind up cannibalising face-to-face. Plus Iceberg partner European Cities Marketing, with Toposophy, has just put out The DMMO COVID-19 Continuity Checklist.

This issue’s parish notices start with previously published coronavirus resource pages from within our own partner community: the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), IMEX Group, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), plus publications Meetings & Incentive Travel (M&IT)Association Meetings International (AMI) and Boardroom.

The latter has just launched “Digital Boardroom” to help readers curate preferred content (see LinkedIn or Twitter video and details). Boardroom is also currently trailing a GCO Meetings & Events free webinar tackling COVID-19’s impact on medical associations (May 7th, 16:00 – 17:00 Central European Summer Time).

UFI’s page has updated its overview of economic support programmes around the world that cover exhibitions and business events. This now covers more than 60 countries.

The European Exhibition Industry Alliance (EEIA), a partnership between UFI and EMECA (the European Major Exhibition Centres Association) has released a position paper Exhibitions and Live Events are the Fast Track to Economic Recovery.

UFI’s has launched its UFI Connects online sessions. Iceberg partner IBTM has also launched IBTM Connect – Keep the Conversation Going. As mentioned above, IMEX Group is launching PlanetIMEX on May 6th.

Iceberg partner GainingEdge has posted three advisories COVID-19 and Destination PromotersPutting Some Order to the Chaos and What to Ask Associations Beyond “Will You Be Rebooking?”, plus Bulletin: COVID-19 Issue #1.

Iceberg partner European Cities Marketing has posted “A New Tomorrow” ECM COVID-19 Response.

There are further resources at the Events Industry Council (EIC), the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) and at Meetings Mean Business. Northstar Meetings Group has posted a running list of New Dates for Events and Conventions Postponed Due to Coronavirus. Northstar has also Launched a New Survey to Gauge the Future of Meetings and Events in the Era of COVID-19.

The Events Industry Council has announced the appointment of an APEX COVID-19 Business Recovery Task Force, a body to develop recommendations, guidelines and resources to support global industry recovery.

As well as the Sentiment Survey posted in Research, PR agency Davies Tanner has produced two briefings: COVID-19: Business Events Industry Briefing and COVID-19: Client and Stakeholder Briefing.

The Association for Computing Machinery has produced Virtual Conferences: A Guide to Best Practices, complete with a list of software options and resourcing strategies (via Associations Now).

Iceberg partner Positive Impact Events is seeking 100,000 event professionals to build the future of the industry. There is a great video here.

Iceberg partner the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC) has just appointed its first CEO, Sven Bossu.

Finally and as always, The Iceberg reiterates its call for you to join our Global Ambassador Program. You can see ambassadors listed on The Iceberg homepage, Ambassadors page, and in Business Events World below. Visit Call for Ambassadors 2019 & 2020 to find out more.

Until the next time…

Robert Coren, Curator of The Iceberg


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