Straight talking from the Editor’s laptop;
How many more shows and events will be cancelled in the next few months? The Geneva Motor Show was cancelled earlier this week and BaselWorld – the global gathering for luxury watch dealers, manufacturers, aficianados and trade press was axed yesterday too.
The organisers of the Geneva Motor Show noted: “We regret this situation, but the health of all participants is our and our exhibitors’ top priority. This is a case of force majeure and a tremendous loss for the manufacturers who have invested massively in their presence in Geneva. However, we are convinced that they will understand this decision,” said Maurice Turrettini, Chairman of the Foundation Board. We would like to warmly thank all those involved in the organisation of the 2020 edition of GIMS.
A few days before the opening of the event, the construction of the stands was very nearly complete. A week ago, during the press conferences announcing the 2020 edition, there was nothing to suggest that such a measure was necessary. The situation changed with the appearance of the first confirmed coronavirus diseases in Switzerland.
In the meantime, the dismantling of the event will now have to be organised. The financial consequences for all those involved in the event are significant and will need to be assessed over the coming weeks.
It was a similar story for Baselworld, which was adamant about carrying on regardless until yesterday’s annoucement. Given that Swatch Group pulled out of Baselworld in 2018, with Bulgari and Breitling following suit, the CoronaVirus problem may well prompt the temporary suspension of the show until a major re-think from the Swiss watch brands can take place for 2022.
Meanwhile Mobile World Barcelona, ITB Travel show Berlin and Facebook F8 have all been cancelled too. The Guardian is speculating that the Tokyo Olympics and Euro 2020 may also be binned off. We are, thanks to the BBC, ITN and the MSM in general, now in panic mode regarding large gatherings of people in one place, although St Greta of Thunberg was able to bless the vegan cheesemakers in Bristol yesterday.
It also means that all the trade stand builders involved, hotels, transport logistics, PR agencies and many other businesses that rely on three or four big events every year to add a big chunk of change to their turnover, will take a massive hit. Some may go under as a result. In the long term, everyone in the events sector will have to think carefully about getting paid something upfront, or securing all-risks insurance, so that regardless of the reason for event cancellation – insurers pay out.
The next big UK insurance event is BIBA in May – will it go ahead? Much depends on the mood music from the mainstream media, which at present is very much in full Ebola type hysteria. CoronaVirus is a serious illness for older people, but so too is the ‘flu – which killed about 50 million people a century ago by the way – so the insurance industry, health professionals and events industry leaders need to stress the RELATIVE risk to the wider population, not the specific case-by-case outbreak.
Duty of care to show, sporting event or conference visitors has to be balanced against a common sense approach to daily life, which must go on. On a brighter note, an Israeli company claims they are well advanced in developing a vaccine. If that good news trasnlates into a workable solution, let us hope the MSM shouts that as loudly as the fear-mongering they have been doing over the last three weeks or so.
Do you think BIBA should go ahead, even if we see a few dozen more CoronaVirus cases confirmed in the UK? Post a comment below.