Convention industry in the midst of Omicron

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Participants will take a photo in front of the sign when they arrive at the International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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I canceled the Broadway show. Restaurant with shutters. At the walk-in clinic, a line of people wrapped around the block. A company that sends employees home.

Sounds like a flashback to March 2020. Highly contagious Omicron variants are causing a surge in coronavirus infection. Waves are particularly pronounced in New York, with a seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases nearly doubling in the past week, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

The Ability of this variant to break through the defenses of Covid vaccination People were encouraged to rethink their daily activities, such as eating out at a restaurant.Put it in $ 100 Billion Conference and Event Industry At the edge. The pandemic suddenly stopped the industry, which revolves around large gatherings, last year due to the implementation of social distance measures.

The convention industry has been recovering in the last few months.During the summer, millionaires Jeff Bezos When Bill Gates Withdrew to Idaho for the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference.And brought by Bitcoin 2021 Thousands of crypto enthusiasts to Miami In June.

Exhibition Industry Research Center The conference, which promotes the business of hotels, airlines and local restaurants, is estimated to have contributed more than $ 101 billion to US gross domestic product in 2019. Dr. Allen Shaw, Chief Economist at CEIR, predicted in September that these rallies would return from about 75% to 80%. Next year’s 2019 level — full recovery by 2023.

But it was before Omicron, Currently the most predominant Covid stock in the United States, I entered the image. And so far, event organizers seem to have different ideas about whether the rally will go as planned for next year. Attendance levels may depend on the company’s travel policy and venue health and safety protocols.

The World Economic Forum, which brings together government leaders and business executives from around the world in Davos, Switzerland, was scheduled for next month. Postponed until summer.. The group said it made the decision “in the light of continued uncertainty about the outbreak of Omicron.”

JPMorgan Chase Then I changed the course Big annual medical conference After the main attendees dropped into Covid’s horror. I was planning to hold it directly in San Francisco next month. The event, one of the largest gatherings of healthcare executives in the world and known as a hotbed for industry trading activities, is currently being held in virtual form.

Increasing Covid protocol

However, the National Retail Federation said Tuesday that the “Big Show” to be held at the Javits Convention Center in New York City from January 16th to January 18th has not yet taken place.

Leading retail industry groups require all participants to be fully vaccinated with Covid-19 and to wear masks at all times within the building. The NRF also advises participants to inspect Covid at home before traveling to Javits. The group said it would offer PCR tests at the convention center during the event.

“As with all attendees, we carefully monitor the external health environment,” said Matt Shay, President and Chief Executive Officer of NRF, in a statement. “We will continue to work with local, state and federal health authorities to ensure that safety guidelines and obligations are met and exceeded.”

In another email sent to speakers alongside the “Big Show,” the NRF said it would be held as long as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Manhattan, NY, considers the event safe. ..

“There are no plans for virtualization at this time, but if that decision is made, it can be delayed given the complexity of its pivot,” NRF said in an email seen by CNBC.

According to the event organizer, the Consumer Electronics Show will also be held in Las Vegas from January 5th to January 8th.

A spokesperson for the event said CES has accepted thousands of new registrants since last week, even in the fear of Omicron. CES requires participants to be fully vaccinated and wear masks. It also reduces capacity and continues to carry out some social distance measurements.

“Attendees and exhibitors are socially distant, but we are confident that it will be a valuable and productive event,” said a spokesman.

Still, major technology companies including: Amazon, Meta, twitter When Pinterest He said he would not send a team to CES this year because of Covid’s fears.While others like Google, Qualcomm When General Motors They say they are still planning to join and show off their new products.

A representative of the Las Vegas Convention Center, where the CES will be held, said there are currently about 45 trade shows at the venue next year, with at least 5,000 participants attending the book.

“We get there”

David Dubois, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the International Exhibition and Event Association, will carry out large-scale events as long as appropriate safety measures are taken at these conference venues and local obligations are adhered to. I said it was necessary. And he said it’s up to the participants to decide whether they can participate comfortably.

“Over the past few months, the exhibition industry has shown how to hold events safely,” Dubois said in a telephone interview. “We have hundreds of people in the last three to four months.”

Even with Omicron, Dubois hopes the industry will recover, he said.

Mark Tester, executive director of the Orange County Convention Center, saw a slight downtrend in Orlando in the fall due to the delta virus after conferencing activity began to recover in earnest in July. After Chicago’s Las Vegas and McCormick Place, this is the third largest convention center in North America.

According to testers, the pace of conventions tends to slow down during the holidays, and so far the Orange County Convention Center hasn’t seen any cancellations of the January show. Not only is there a financial penalty for canceling these events shortly before this, he said, which could demoralize the industry.

“I’ve never heard of any questions or thoughts about virtualization or doing anything. [an] “It’s an event with a variant of Omicron and can affect attendance,” the tester said. … but we work with everyone on the protocol. “

Convention industry in the midst of Omicron

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