Live Events, Biorisks & The Future

Today, IAEE Mid-South’s Chapter hosted a Virtual Town Hall that provided a candid conversation about the current state of live events, challenges we are facing and insight into the future. The webinar was hosted by Angi Van Berg, CEM, CTA – Louisville Tourism and featured panel members David DuBois, CAE, CMP, FASAE, CTA – President & CEO, IAEE, Bob McLean, CPA, CAE, CEM – Executive Vice President, PPAI and 2020 Chair person of IAEE Board of Directors and Jim Kelley – Vice President, Marketing & Industry Relations, FERN.

These professionals shared invaluable information and insight.

Advocacy Efforts

Our industry is working together on recovery and relaunch plans, however, aggressive advocacy for stimulus plans is still in the forefront of those efforts.

Hardest hit is 501 C (6) organizations who are not included in the current Payroll Protection Plan. Over 50% of shows are owned by 501 C (6) associations. Securing aid for them is essential in rebuilding the live events industry. The next phase of the U.S. Travel lobbying efforts will be focused on working closely with all event councils to get 501 C (6) events included in future aid plans.

Industry associates have also joined a new coalition called GO LIVE Together. This initiative is focused on U.S. local, state, and federal legislators, advocating for funds to offset the added costs of hosting an event post-COVID-19, and for funds to incentivize people to attend live events when it is safe to do so.

ISSA’s Global Biorisk Advisory Council

Possibly the most interesting discussion during this webinar was that of ISSA’s Global Biorisk Advisory Council, or GBAC, and its role in developing and promoting sanitation and safety.  GBAC is working closely with the CDC to help develop these plans.

GBAC is also in the process of finalizing the GBAC STAR program that will take facilities, starting with convention centers, and put them through a certification process. The certification, similar to a CEM or CMP, will require certain sanitation regulations and guidelines be implemented into facilities to achieve this certified status.

American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is working closely with GBAC to expand this certification into all aspects of travel including hotels, Uber, airlines, etc. There will also be GBAC certified cities that meet all guidelines as outlined by these programs.

2020 IAEE Expo! Expo!

David DuBois confirmed that IAEE’s Expo! Expo! in Louisville, KY December 8 – 10, 2020 IS STILL ON! There are no plans for cancelling and IAEE and their partners are continuing to aggressively plan this event!

My key takeaways

As Bob McLean put it, NEVER did we expect to be talking BIORISKS in trade shows, but this is our reality. So how do we pivot (everyone’s favorite word right now) and make the necessary adjustments both temporarily and permanently?

Be flexible

An interesting point came up during the discussion about the interpretation of regulations and how they can vary within the same state from city mayor to county judge.  As an industry, we are going to have to learn to be flexible as new information comes available.

Make a new plan

Many show organizers are working hard on contingency plans that include b, c and d plans to implement as we get a better understanding of how each industry will recover.  They have also ceased strong sales efforts for booths and membership and pivoted to a ‘how are you doing’ touch instead.

Lean on your partners

There are so many questions about implementing new social distancing rules and regulations in events and where they will come from (city, facility, vendors). Will unions be expected to comply with these new guidelines and who assumes the responsibility? The answer is that we do not know yet but staying in close and constant contact with your facility and vendor partners is key.

Support your clients

Understand that your customers may not want to be sold right now. They might just want to be heard. They might just want to be understood. Maybe they might just need an ear to bend about how hard it is to work from home with children running around like crazy – or is that just me?