World Travel Market 2019.

Sometimes it’s just the way the cookie crumbles. As the industry celebrates Global Exhibitions Day 2020 today, I’m locked away finishing up another packed issue of Business Events World. Full coverage and photos will therefore have to wait until next time. But the event’s banner message is that “exhibitions are key to rebuilding economies”, so already posted in Research and extremely hot off the press is the latest Global Economic Impact of Exhibitions (2020 Edition) from Iceberg partner UFI, the industry’s global association.

The photo is from World Travel Market 2019, an exhibition with which the Iceberg team has a long history (25 years in my case). Most of this issue’s content is either still trying to picture the “new normal” of business and professional events in the pandemic age, or else asking how long it will be before the “new normal” starts to look more like the “old normal” above.

In News this issue of Business Events World, venues are making headlines. South Korea’s largest exhibition and convention centre, KINTEX, has just hosted the MBC Architecture Expo. The venue’s safety protocols included stringent screening and biosecurity. RAI Amsterdam has said it is able to reopen its doors while still closely following all guidelines regarding social distancing. IFEMA, the consortium behind Spain’s largest exhibition complex Feria de Madrid, wants to reopen in September and host over 60 events in the last four months of the year. EICC, the Edinburgh International Convention Centre, has launched a “hybrid virtual model” before the “phased return to smaller-scale events” anticipated later this year. With COVID-19 causing major trade fair casualties in the German capital, politicians are calling for Messe Berlin to get a new plan, including the injection of €80 million. Dozens of conferences have booked the soon-to-open Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre during the coronavirus lockdown, according its General Manager.

Also in News this issue, advocacy. A measure has been introduced by US Congress Democrats aiming to make associations eligible for PPP (the Paycheck Protection Program) and also other aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. BECA, the Business Events Council of Australia, has delivered to Australia’s government a set of safety and hygiene procedures. They argue that business events are different from other mass gatherings and should open up as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Estonia has tentative plans to reopen its meetings sector promoted with a campaign on social media showcasing “safe-hosting practices” that allow for indoor meetings of up to 500 delegates. Three of the meetings industry’s biggest associations have pooled expertise to distribute a guide about making event environments safe to re-open. Iceberg partners AIPC, ICCA and UFI are the trio behind it (see in Research below also). Plus, business travel restrictions and reduced demand for in person meetings are the biggest concerns for planners in the UK and Europe. So say new Northstar Meetings Group figures. The best case scenario for recovery will see all European events going ahead from September, according to a new study from the Strategic Alliance of the National Convention Bureaux of Europe.

Ten Opinions this issue are fresh. Recovery is Asia is a theme, not least in two reports from webinars about the region. UFI staged an UFI Connects discussion on the role of government in Asian exhibition industry recovery. The continent’s business events sector should rebound faster than that of others. So said panellists at a Global MICE Situation in the Time of the Pandemic webinar. Meanwhile, the shape of the “new normal” became clearer after the first large Asia Pacific trade shows to return: the 2020 Hunan Auto Show in Changsha, and the MBC Architecture Show in Goyang.

Also in Opinions, Reykjavik’s Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre says it is now ready for post-crisis business after becoming one of the first large venues in Europe to reopen. The Aberdeen Convention and Events Bureau’s Senior Business Development Executive Graeme Mackay sees the Scottish seaport’s membership of the Energy Cities Alliance as helpful collaboration through the crisis. As policymakers react to COVID-19 in real time, associations’ advocacy on behalf of their members is changing fast and has never been more urgent. Freeman CEO Bob Priest-Heck talks about Go LIVE Together, advocacy, government funding and the future. In “The New Normal: Considerations for Business Events in a Post-COVID-19 World” experts from the same agency offer ideas, processes and protocols around the safety of business events. Jennifer Houlihan, Events and Operations Specialist at Dotted Lines, takes an in-depth planners’ look at how UK meetings could return and spur post-COVID-19 recovery. Plus, Dr. Brian Labus, an epidemiologist and health sciences expert at the University of Nevada, prepares organisers for the reality of the months ahead.

There are two fresh additions to Features, both harking from Scandinavia. Stavanger in Norway is “Europe’s energy capital” with a committed convention bureau keen to attract association meetings. Plus Iceberg partner GainingEdge’s brilliant Chairman Gary Grimmer redefines “legacy” on video looking at the subject through the lens of MeetDenmark’s Outreach Study.

In Research you’ll find six fresh pages, a new record! UFI’s Global Economic Impact of Exhibitions (2020 Edition) is hot off the press as per above. Also covered before, AIPC, ICCA and UFI’s Good Practice Guidance: Addressing COVID-19 Requirements for Re-Opening Business Events, and Freeman’s The New Normal: Considerations for Business Events in a Post-COVID-19 World. Kenes Group has written about the journey it took turning the 2nd AAT-AD/PD™ Focus Meeting 2020 virtual with three weeks’ lead time in Virtual Expedition: Gliding into Uncharted Territories for Better Science. PCMA Convene has published its latest COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard (May 18th – 21st), and SITE Foundation has posted three long-form geographical and sectoral reports on incentive travel: in Asia, in Europe, and a DMC analysis.

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 ASAE’s Associations Now Today’s Coronavirus Tracker.

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

UFI is excited about Global Exhibitions Day (June 3rd)! UFI has also announced that it will bring its Asia-Pacific Conference to Melbourne in 2021.

UFI’s UFI Connects sessions have reached first milestonesIceberg partner IBTM’s IBTM Connect – Keep the Conversation Going has launched a series of interviews with industry personalities. IMEX Group’s PlanetIMEX is live, with the Networking Island now visitable and hosting “Conversations with Brella”.

ICCA and ASAE are collaborating on educational projects across an eighteen month events schedule. ICCA and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) are joining hands to organise a series of educational webinars. TCEB has been in discussion with four industry bodies about best practice for Thai exhibitions during the pandemic.

The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), as mentioned above, has issued COVIDSafe Guidelines for the Business Events Industry.

Iceberg partner GainingEdge has posted the advisories COVID-19 and Destination PromotersPutting Some Order to the ChaosWhat to Ask Associations Beyond “Will You Be Rebooking?”, and Partnerships and Collaboration: Now Even More Essential, plus Bulletin: COVID-19 Issue #1, Issue #2, Issue #3 and Issue #4.

There are also association resources aplenty at the new website of Iceberg partner the Global Association Hubs Partnership (GAHP), including a Free Virtual Meetings Guide made available by Julius Solaris of

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.

To these we add INCON’s #INCONCOVID19 – Tips and Advice on Creating Events and Conferences During COVID-19.

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 Meetings International has written an article about the new website, which provides free access to information on virus restrictions so people can plan their next business or family trip.

ASAE’s Associations Now has published an article on the importance of curating valuable content in uncertain times. This curator offers his thanks!

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, with some very big news…

Robert Coren, Curator of The Iceberg


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