At the RNC: “profound” acceptance, no social distancing, and few masks.

It is still a somewhat quiet time, which is why I’ve delayed this issue a little. But at least the world just got to compare and contrast two rival virtual / hybrid meetings, of which only one will ultimately leave a legacy: the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

Originally scheduled in July at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, the DNC was delayed and downsized to the Wisconsin Center, with most presenting taking place virtually. Participants that were at the venue had to self-quarantine for at least 72 hours prior to arrival, to wear PPE and to be tested daily for COVID-19. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made their respective speeches remotely from the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Delaware.

The RNC was booked into the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Then President Trump moved the event (mostly) to the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, after NC Governor Roy Cooper refused to sanction mass convention attendance because of the pandemic. The President then abruptly changed tack again, the RNC retreating (mostly) to an empty Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. The shorter time to prepare after this late pivot was reflected in the event’s production values.

But President Trump “profoundly” accepted the party’s nomination at the White House itself, ignoring both norms about using federal property for party purposes, and the scientific realities of the ongoing crisis (along with a lot of other realities as well). 2,000 people sat close together watching him on the South Lawn, with very few masks in evidence.

Presidential immunity is a legal concept, not a medical one. PCOs, take note!

In Features below this issue, see how Seoul is showing rather greater COVID-19 care with the reopening of its business events sector. Coverage includes dental congress SIDEX, from which we’ve previously shared fascinating video.

In News the cost of COVID-19 on the industry continues to be counted. Two-thirds of those exhibiting at business events say their absence has had a detrimental impact on business. So says a study from Explori together with Iceberg partner UFI, global association of the exhibition industry. COVID-19 has had a heavy impact in Italy, according to other research. 69.7 percent of events there have been cancelled.

Also evident is the sector’s determination to fight back. Associations and prominent leaders of the industry have joined together to create September’s UKickstart Event 2020, a multi-hub free-to-attend live and virtual meeting. £30,000 for PR has now been raised by a campaign to restore confidence in UK events and experiences. More is needed. UK eventprofs have drawn attention to the critical state of the industry by lighting venues and other landmarks right across the country in red. Event professionals in Hong Kong have been urging government to provide more financial support. As they hammer out rival multi-million dollar economic stimulus bills, legislators in the US were lobbied by Exhibitions Mean Business to consider multiple industry provisions.

Also in News, ongoing cancellations. Informa Markets has postponed CPhI South East Asia to May 2021. The organiser will create a matchmaking platform online for the event. Two big co-located automative equipment shows booked this November in Las Vegas have both cancelled, so the loss of CES 2021 is now compounded by a further hit of $259 million and about 160,000 attendees. Plus, some good news this issue! Iceberg partner GDS-Index, the benchmarking and improvement programme for destinations, has won the IMEX-EIC (Events Industry Council) 2020 Innovation in Sustainability Award. Dubai is the safest location in the world for hosting international exhibitions, according to a survey. Dubai World Trade Centre has held AiEverything, the region’s first in person meeting since March. The 25th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals is heading to Perth in December 2023. The win should deliver AU$10 million to the economy, and was supported by Tourism Australia’s Business Events Bid Fund Program.

Ten Opinions this issue are fresh, and three include video. One is about Europe’s largest medical meeting in its sector, the European Congress of Radiology, held enitrely online for the first time this year. The United Fresh Produce Association cancelled its annual convention and expo this spring, and quickly built an online platform with permanent expo, social gatherings and on-demand education. Plus, the Events Industry Council just released the Meeting and Event Design Accepted Practices Guide (posted in Research last issue). A webcast now offers insights and answers questions about the document.

Big association meetings are another theme in Opinions this issue. While they were once prized targets of all convention bureaux, COVID-19 has made the near future smaller and more regional. But this trend should not frighten destination marketing organisations. To make association events look like they did before the pandemic, either enough host countries push case rates down to nearly zero, or else science comes up with a vaccine or treatment(s). Contributors in this piece include Martin Sirk, Iceberg partner Global Association Hubs’ International Advisor. The ever busy Martin also offers innovative brainstorming around future meeting concepts that associations could play leading roles within. At present how can associations plan even for the very near future? Association not-for-profit AC Forum explains how members are reading changes in the sector and in their events. As associations continue to stage virtual conferences, many are concerned about replicating the interaction, networking and engagement of face-to-face events. Tips offered in a webcast from Iceberg partner ASAE might help.

Also in Opinions, Chantal Sturk-Nadeau, Executive Director of Business Events at Destination Canada, salutes the importance of face-to-face meetings in sharing ideas, building networks and fuelling innovation, and Non-Executive Director with BCD M&E and the Exclusive Collection David Taylor offers an account of his first face-to-face meeting since the imposition of lockdown.

In Research you’ll find Iceberg partner European Cities Marketing’s (ECM’s) A New Tomorrow: Long Thinker Catalogue, which includes the views of two Iceberg partner organisation chiefs, #MEET4IMPACT’s Geneviève Leclerc and GDS-Movement’s Guy Bigwood. The Incentive Research Foundation has posted IRF Pulse Survey: COVID-19’s Impact on the Incentive Travel Industry (July 2020). Kenes Group has published Strategy for Associations Going Virtual. The aforementioned EIC webcast has been added to last issue’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)Conference & Meetings World, Conference NewsExhibition World, Exhibition News and ASAE’s Associations Now Today’s Coronavirus Tracker.

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.

IMEX is refreshing its PlanetIMEX virtual experience platform with a whole new look and feel. The evolved platform returns on October 12th – 16th.

As already above, IMEX has also announced Iceberg partner the Global Destination Sustainability Index as the winner of the IMEX-EIC Innovation in Sustainability Award. The judges called GDS-Index “a unique and innovative approach to driving sustainability through competition – and with potential beyond the industry”. 

IBTM World 2020 has announced that Pancho Campo, tennis professional turned events producer, will keynote at the event, which runs from December 1st to 3rd at Fira Barcelona. IBTM also has new exhibitor signings as intense safety preparations for the show continue. The Iceberg partner had already announced live pitching and a new judging panel Chair, DAHLIA+Agency Founder Dahlia El Gazzar, for its Tech Watch Awards at IBTM World. Entries for live pitching stay open until September 30th. Details have been announced for the IBTM Americas Virtual Summit taking place on August 25th and 26th. The original in-person event at the end of May was postponed to August before ultimately being cancelledThe registration page is here.

UFI’s registration for its “glocalised” Global Congress 2020 in November remains open. There will be physical attendance in three locations: Dubai, Basel and Hong Kong. The main theme is “resilience”. The registration page is here. Reports in the African media also say that Rwanda Convention Bureau has joined the global association of the exhibition industry.

ICCA’s registration for its 59th ICCA Congress in Kaohsiung remains open. The hybrid format regional hubs have been announced as Cape Town, Sarawak, Luxembourg, Malaga and Riyadh, with Latin and North America events being held virtually. There’s a six-week online programme leading up to the main dates. The registration page is here.

ICCA is also partnering with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, a division of worldwide cleaning industry association ISSA, to bring essential business reopening resources to ICCA members.

ICCA has announced it will phase out a number of positions at its Amsterdam head office as it seeks efficiencies.

ICCA and fellow Iceberg partner ECM (European Cities Marketing)  have agreed to launch a European partnership to solidify collaboration and provide better aligned benefits for their respective members. ECM’s announcement page is here. ICCA’s announcement page is here.

ECM has issued an updated summary of its offering entitled European Cities Marketing: Staying Relevant by Our Members’ Side.

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 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 insights Tracking the Return of the MICE Events Sector in a COVID-19 World and also The MICE Sector in a COVID-19 World – Lockdown, Transition, New Normal, plus Bulletin: COVID-19 Issue #1, Issue #2, Issue #3, Issue #4, Issue #5, Issue #6Issue #7, Issue #8 and Issue #9.

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 August.

Registration for the hybrid 2020 edition of The Meetings Show in the UK has opened. The show was postponed to October due to the pandemic. The registration page is here. The Meetings Show has also announced the winners of its Tomorrow’s Talent initiative, launched by the event in association with Iceberg partner Meetings & Incentive Travel.

The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), the umbrella body for the UK’s events industry, has launched a reopening survey. The poll will show how industry suppliers across the country are preparing to reopen safely. Take part here.

Seoul Convention Bureau has announced plans to host the Union of International Associations Round Table as a fully virtual event. The meeting, which is due to take place on September 17th and 18th, will work in close partnership with suppliers within Seoul’s meetings and events industry. The registration page is here.

Exhibition World of Iceberg partner Mash Media is supporting International M.I.C.E Showcase 2.0 – Virtual Summit, which runs on September 11th and 12th. New Delhi-based media platform Exhibition Showcase is the organiser of the two-day event which will connect about 1,500 event professionals including PCOs, venue leaders, DMCs, travel / tour operators and exhibition organisers. The registration page is here.

Stress Matters, the event industry workplace wellbeing organisation, has launched the #MHFAEveryEvent campaign to promote workplace wellbeing and offer free training and support to out of work event professionals. To get involved in the campaign, apply for mental health first aid training or to apply for a gifted place on the training course, visit the Stress Matters website.

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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