The quiet before the oncoming storm.

At the moment I’m testing an online platform for client approval of video content. It lets creators and reviewers swap comments timestamped to specific shots in a film. To encourage the feature’s usage, the empty comments section reads “It’s quiet in here. Start the conversation by leaving the first comment.”.

It is quiet in here just now, and too darn quiet. Not just because this is the silly season or “cucumber time”, but because of the real fear of renewed lockdowns with second waves. The fear that ongoing restrictions and low delegate confidence will scupper the safe restart we all want to happen. It’s the quiet before the storm, as the ending of governmental support and furlough schemes looms for an industry that cannot yet resume at anything like full capacity, meaning the sector will soon be in free fall without any safety net at all. It’s the brace before bankruptcies and redundancies. “There are very few brave faces left out there”, says my colleague James Latham, noting that his email traffic has dropped right down. While a responsible industry must put lives before livelihoods, perhaps this quiet is the dawning realisation that protecting both is now a wholly unrealistic ambition for far too many.

Of course, the quiet may just be my elaborate excuse that for once in Features this issue, nothing new at all has been posted. But if you’ve not already read last issue’s Joint Meetings Industry Council Global Manifesto, and also watched our remarkable webinar in two parts about it, please do. An article about the manifesto’s advocacy from JMIC Executive Director Rod Cameron has been added to the page.

In News, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that conferences and exhibitions in the United Kingdom will restart on October 1st. Venue managers welcomed this announcement, including ACC Liverpool Group, ExCeL London and Birmingham’s NEC. The UK sector is now launching a campaign to boost confidence and to prove its worth to the country. Elsewhere, Singapore Tourism Board is piloting two hybrid events which will allow up to 50 delegates to attend in person, to stress-test its new risk management framework before gradually scaling up to larger meetings. Vienna Convention Bureau was instrumental in hosting exclusively online Europe’s largest radiology and radiotechnology congress. Organisers say that 15,000 international attendees from 30 countries took part.

Also in News, the pandemic continues to rage. Trade show business will contract by 60 percent compared to 2019, says the global association of the exhibition industry and Iceberg partner UFI. The updated assessment compiles data from the new UFI Global Exhibition Barometer. CPhI Japan, the pharmaceutical trade show organised by Informa Markets, has announced it will postpone until 2021, also moving from Osaka to Tokyo. CPhI brings together over 100,000 pharma professionals every year. The Consumer Technology Association has announced the cancellation of January’s CES 2021 in Las Vegas. The huge event usually draws around 170,000 visitors. Planners will create an all-digital experience in its place. Also in the US, President Trump has cancelled the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville as the pandemic continues to rage in Florida. A scaled-back event in North Carolina will be held instead. Plus, some better news for the future. Melbourne Convention Bureau has announced a hat-trick of significant congress wins taking place over the next eight years. These high-profile events will deliver AU$24.8 million to the state economy. Designers of new meeting space CENTREPIECE at Melbourne Park have also been setting out their ideas. Cairns Convention Centre is starting to market its AU$176 million brand expansion and refurbishment as well.

There’s still more on The Iceberg itself (click View all News). In a bid to relaunch international events, Brussels is launching a €2 million fund to entice planners to choose the Belgian capital as a destination. Funding of £10 million has also been offered by Scotland’s Government to help the events sector recover. Plus, Iceberg partner the International Congress and Convention Association has now opened registration for its 59th ICCA Congress this November in the port city of Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei. The event will be a hybrid format produced together with Iceberg partner Maritz Global Events.

Eleven Opinions this issue are fresh. Iceberg partner MCI has a guide for associations and their congresses on the myths, facts and opportunities around virtual events. In planning a hybrid or digital meeting, content is key to success. Panelists said as much during the first hybrid webinar of The Hague Convention Bureau. After the American Society for Nutrition switched its live meeting in late May to all-virtual just sixty days before it opened, attendance rose from 3,500 delegates to 30,000. Meanwhile, the largest business-to-business, face-to-face exhibition in the US, CES 2021, is going online and all-digital. The early pivot sent shock waves across an already devastated industry. Plus, with COVID-19 forcing a rethinking of travel, and many conferences cancelled or virtual, a Nature analysis looks at actions that might reduce event travel emissions by up to 90 percent.

Also in Opinions, issues around reopening events. After months of lockdown, many countries are now restarting, so how does the sector look in a COVID-19 world? Rod Kamleshwaran of the Iceberg partner GainingEdge finds out. In the UK many industry associations have produced their own COVID-19 safety guidelines. We have a guide to these guidelines, albeit one put together before the All Secure Standard approved by the UK Government was launched! Associations are perfectly placed to reshape the world emerging from lockdown. But is this an opportunity they really will grasp? Iceberg partners and ambassadors are among the views canvassed. Months into the pandemic we are awash in sector pronouncements and assertions. But the recent global manifesto published by the Joint Meetings Industry Council (which presents The Iceberg) is a little different. So argues JMIC Executive Director Rod Cameron. In a sharp reality check for the business events sector, read how successful reopening relies on a much wider containment of the pandemic than the industry on its own will ever achieve. Th author is a masked Martin Sirk, the International Advisor for Iceberg partner Global Association Hubs. Plus, try a new spin on political event legacies. The UK’s Conservative Party will be hosting its annual conference at ICC Birmingham in 2022, 2024 and 2026. The party has made political gains by staying loyal to destinations that have traditionally voted for the other side.

In Research you’ll find four fresh items. The 2020 IACC Meeting Room of the Future, PCMA’s latest COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard, the UK’s All Secure Standard (AEO, AEV and ESSA), and the Event Industry Council’s Meeting and Event Design Accepted Practices Guide.

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.

JMIC also posted a press release about the Iceberg-delivered JMIC Manifesto for Economic Recovery Webinar.

There are association resources aplenty at the new website of Iceberg partner the Global Association Hubs, including a Free Virtual Meetings Guide made available by Julius Solaris of, and COVID-19 advisories from the four GAH destinations: Brussels, Dubai, Singapore and Washington DC.

There is a further outbreak advisory from the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), via UFI

UFI has opened up registration for its “glocalised” Global Congress 2020. There will be physical attendance in three locations: Dubai, Basel and Hong Kong. The main theme is “resilience”. The registration page is here. The UFI Board of Directors has elected Monica Lee-Müller, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Managing Director, as President for the 2021/22 period. As per above, UFI has updated its COVID-19 damage assessment for the global exhibitions and trade show industry, based on figures from the new Global Barometer survey. Grip has been named the winner of the UFI Digital Innovation Award 2020, for the project: “Taking ITB Berlin Virtual In Two Days”. Grip is an AI-powered event matchmaking solution that first won the UFI Digital Innovation Award back in 2017. This accelerated the company’s credibility and enabled Grip to become a trusted partner for many leading organisers.

ICCA has opened up registration for its 59th ICCA Congress in Kaohsiung. The congress has a hybrid format and is themed: “Transforming Global Events Together”. ICCA has worked with fellow Iceberg partner Maritz Global Events on the format of the event, hosted both live in Kaohsiung as the regional hub and virtually from November 1st to 3rd. There’s a six-week online programme leading up to the main dates. The registration page is here.

Maritz Global Events has itself announced that two of the company’s brands, Maritz Travel and Experient, are being formally incorporated into Maritz Global Events. The rebranding was shared in an industry email from Maritz President David Peckinpaugh.

Iceberg partner European Cities Marketing has announced the first edition of the ECM Summer School 2.0, which will take place online from August 24th to 26th. Attendees will take a deep dive into the meetings industry and aim to kick off a smart and sustainable recovery.

Iceberg partner AIPC has announced that its Annual Congress will take place in Paris on September 24th and 25th. Hosted by the Palais de Congrès in Paris, members who are facing travel restrictions will be able to participate virtually.

New Iceberg partner Mash Media has announced that the Exhibition News Awards (EN Awards) will now be held on October 9th at Evolution London from 18.30. Duncan Siegle, Publishing Director of Exhibition News, said Mash is working with Smart Venues to ensure a safe and compliant event. Tickets on sale here.

Iceberg partner IBTM has announced live pitching and a new judging panel Chair, DAHLIA+Agency Founder Dahlia El Gazzar, for its Tech Watch Awards at IBTM World, which takes place from December 1st to 3rd at Fira Barcelona. The new format will give five technology businesses the chance to live pitch products and services to the panel and a live audience, aiming to secure finance and mentorship. Entries for live pitching stay open until September 30th.

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?”Partnerships and Collaboration: Now Even More Essential, and Building Confidence with Your Stakeholders, plus Bulletin: COVID-19 Issue #1, Issue #2, Issue #3, Issue #4, Issue #5, Issue #6Issue #7 and Issue #8. GainingEdge has also announced Vinícius Ribeiro da Silva from the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil as the newest GainingEdge Scholar recipient. Vinícius will be the third student to receive a scholarship since the programme was launched in 2018.

Brian Mushakwe from Chinhoyi University of Technology in Zimbabwe has won the International University Challenge at the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum. The event took place online for the first time this year, as part of IMEX’s new virtual experience, PlanetIMEX. The Iceberg partner runs the event in partnership with MPI (Meeting Professionals International) and fellow Iceberg partner MCI.

Iceberg partner Boardroom has launched Boardroom MiniCourses, a dedicated online learning site loaded with short, high-quality educational videos. Contributors include Geneviève Leclerc, Chief Executive Officer of #MEET4IMPACT and Iceberg ambassador. Boardroom MiniCourses has an Instagram page here, and the available content is already growing.

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

There are extensive further COVID-19 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, and updated its Pulse Survey in July.

The European Exhibition Industry Alliance (EEIA) has published a “Position Paper” called Trade Fairs and Exhibitions Business Still Flat – Incentives for Exhibitors and Visitors Needed.

The Society of Independent Show Organisers (SISO) has postponed its annual Summer Conference due to the recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across the US. The proposed venue, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas, is currently limiting gatherings to groups of less than ten individuals.

The Meetings Show in the UK has unveiled plans for a hybrid 2020 edition. Moved to October due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, the event is to run both a live and virtual show alongside one another.

The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), the umbrella body for the UK’s events industry, has launched a reopening survey. With the Government recently announcing that live events can take place again from October 1st, the poll will show how industry suppliers across the country are preparing to reopen safely. Take part here. Plus, read BVEP’s letter sent to UK event and brand experience industry leaders as part of a new campaign under the “One Industry, One Voice, One Message” mantra.

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 quiet ends, for good or ill…

Robert Coren, Curator of The Iceberg


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