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Event Leaders Say Trade Shows are Safe. Other Professionals aren’t so Sure.

Event Leaders Say Trade Shows are Safe. Other Professionals aren’t so Sure.

“I’m feeling weirdly anxious. I don’t know how to act around people. I’m wearing my first pants without elastic around the waist.” — Vice President at a major auto supplier at her first in-person event since the pandemic

As if returning to events wasn’t hard enough, we now have Delta on our hands. Even though events have already started taking place, companies and participants are getting nervous again. 

The event industry is ready—dare we say desperate—for in-person events to fully return. But sponsors and participants might not be on the same page. 

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Facing Delta, event stakeholders try to make it seem like everything’s fine

The event industry is enduring another round of pandemic-pain. As if last year weren’t enough, Delta is throwing a major wrench in the industry’s recovery. 

Major industry events ranging from the New York International Auto Show to T3 Conferences have been cancelled or postponed. Similarly, tourist and consumer events have been cancelled in areas that don’t have high vaccination rates and are experiencing overrun hospitals. 

“Down here in Louisiana, we are in our fourth and most dangerous surge to date, fueled by our insufficient vaccination rate and the highly transmissible Delta variant,” said a Louisiana Department of Health spokesperson. “Our hospitals are overwhelmed.” 

In the investor relation (IR) space, 90% of IR leaders have changed their plans for in-person meetings. “‘Our recent conversations with clients suggest the spread of the Delta variant has certainly tempered the overall enthusiasm for in-person events in the back half of the year,” told Thierry Elmaleh, IR partner at Q4 to IR Magazine.

Even though it seems that major events are being cancelled left and right, the event industry is doing its best to assure companies it’s safe to return.

The Trade Shows News Network released an article based on research claiming in-person events are safe

“We recognize the current rise in Delta variant cases has led some event organizers and exhibitors to consider cancellations,” said John Cordier, CEO and co-founder of Epistemix, a computational modeling software company. “Our modeling and data can help show organizers and public health officials replace that uncertainty with confidence to plan safe events.”

At events, most participants (if not all due to protocols) are vaccinated, which drastically reduces transmission. And more than 90% of participants are not opposed to additional safety protocols.

With the participants showing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, the health and safety risks of events are arguably less than activities taking place outside the convention centers. 

But even if this research is accurate, the CDC also has a long list of risk factors and things to consider beyond vaccinations. There’s travel to consider, spacing, event settings, attendee behavior and more. Plus, Delta is breaking through vaccines. Though vaccinated people might not react strongly to Delta, they can spread it to others without knowing. 

2021 Events Not Happening

The bottom line is that though events might be safer than they were a year ago, Delta is spreading fast. And event professionals are struggling to overcome that reality.

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