Coronavirus & 2021 Conferences

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CoronavirusThe cancellation of Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit scheduled to be held in San Francisco’s Moscone Center March 9-12 due to health concerns regarding COVID-19, the new name of the coronavirus, adds to a growing list of some of the biggest shows in the industry being postponed. Facebook’s announcement comes at the heels of the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress scheduled to be held in Barcelona.

The postponement of IBTM Asia Pacific in Singapore from April 6-8, 2020 to April 13-14, 2021, has planners taking note.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly; our customers, partners, and team in Singapore have worked incredibly hard on the event, and while it is disappointing to postpone, it’s imperative that we prioritize the health and safety of everyone involved,” said Shane Hannam, portfolio director, IBTM Events, in a statement.

Another significant cancellation comes from PrimeGlobal, one of the five largest associations of independent accounting firms in the world, that has canceled next year’s conference as a result of the coronavirus.

“Our management team is closely monitoring the developments. We’re currently assessing risks and mitigations and have decided to cancel our World Conference, which was scheduled to take place in Shanghai in November 2021. Even though we are more than a year out, we are not able to conduct site visits. Also, putting a ‘save the date’ out to members at this time will spark more negative emotions than excitement. We’ve also decided to postpone our Asia Pacific Regional Conference from this August to next spring,” explains Stacey Sanchez, CMP, executive director, global events, PrimeGlobal. “In situations like this, it’s okay to overcommunicate. We’ve found that our members appreciate that we take our duty of care responsibility seriously.”

A dedicated page has been posted to its website with all the latest information on the virus. “Planners should rely on local sources for facts when making a decision rather than depending solely on the media. The media does a good job of keeping us informed of the situation, but we need to be careful we are not buying into the sensationalism. This is a situation not to be taken lightly, but hearing from people who have boots on the ground will help you in the decision and mitigation process,” adds Sanchez.

In addition, PrimeGlobal is aware of the concerns many have about international travel and is providing video conferencing capabilities for those who do not feel comfortable traveling. It has decided to continue with the planning of conferences in the other regions of the world, specifically North America, Latin America, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will be sending out tips on how to reduce risk while traveling.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) website is a resource we check often. Just letting your attendees know what you are doing to mitigate risk is key. We are also working with our hotel and vendor partners to see what they are doing as well. Some of our partners are providing sanitizer wipes at touch screen kiosks and creating hand sanitizer stations throughout venues,” adds Sanchez.

IADR Conference Impacted As Well

The International & American Associations for Dental Research (IADR) General Session and Exhibition in Washington, D.C. is proceeding as planned March 18-21. However, its Chinese division based in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, will not be able to attend. This is unfortunate, especially since next year’s IADR General Session is scheduled to be held in Chengdu, China, in June. Not only was IADR hosting a delegation from the Chengdu Bureau of Exposition but the Vice Mayor of Chengdu, China as well to observe the 2020 meeting to help with the planning of next year’s program. Due to travel restriction, they are no longer able to attend.

“Typically, IADR has several hundred attendees from China at our meetings. IADR will provide full refunds for delegates unable to travel due to coronavirus-related, government-imposed travel restrictions.  To date, we have had to withdraw several hundred speakers who are unable to present their scientific research, and we have canceled the annual ‘China Night Reception’ and ‘Chinese Luncheon’ at our meeting and have had six exhibit booth cancellations from China. In addition, several Chinese universities have had to cancel their receptions,” explains Leslie Zeck, CMP, CMM, HMCC, director of meetings, International & American Associations for Dental Research. “Proactively, we are recording major sessions for rebroadcast online, which will be available for continuing education credit.”

While onsite at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, attendees will be encouraged to wash their hands frequently with soap and water and to use the alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations throughout the convention center. IADR arranged for the convention center to increase the number of portable hand sanitizers throughout the venue and have added slides and signage to encourage these healthy practices. The IADR posted information about the conference on its website that can be accessed here.

Doug Wheeler, founder and CEO, Summit Performance Group, hasn’t had any cancellations. However, his company did assist a new client with moving their program from China to Northern California with very little notice.

“We were surprised by how much availability there was with hotels given the very short notice and the size of the program, and that seems to tell me that the Coronavirus is affecting inbound Asia Pacific business coming into Northern California,” he says.

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