Yesterday’s decision by the organisers of Pure London to cancel their July show was unsurprising.
Sad but unsurprising.
Up until the early part of this week, the show’s website was still advertising the event, scheduled for July 21-22 at Olympia was going ahead.
That in itself was a mystery, given that no other trade or consumer events in the UK have been allowed to take place.
Had Pure’s organisers been given exceptional permission?
Did they know something about changes to the rules about gatherings, public or otherwise that all other organisers were unaware of?
No, and no would be the answer to both questions. Instead, the organisers were probably hoping government policy would have changed.
This feeling would not have been based on wishful thinking but plans submitted by the trade associations of the UK event industry.
These very same plans have been accepted by the governments of France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy (you can read the policy document here).
In those countries, trade exhibitions will re-start in September.*
Across Europe, many countries have set re-start dates for exhibitions. Specific terms and conditions do apply, and in some cases, those conditions include contract tracing being in place.
So, right now, your business can make firm plans to exhibit in the autumn, as long as it’s not in the UK.**
Trade associations allied to the events industry here in the UK have not been sitting on their hands. They have been lobbying government hard since the COVID crisis halted the sector overnight.
This week, the Event Industry Alliance (EIA), launched a new cross-association working group called “Project Confidence.”
The objective is to show government officials, exhibitors and visitors that events can be run safely.
So, what else can be done to get things on a positive footing?
You could lobby your MP, and share with them the blueprint for the safe running of events.
Trade associations where members rely on exhibitions and conferences for sales leads need to apply their voice.
Writing to local and national news media will also help the cause.
The lack of a firm voice from the government regarding trade events is puzzling.
Perhaps the lack of a sound, track and trace system is a restraint, but exhibitions with their long-established registration expertise and systems will be ideal partners for any tracking system.
**Actually, trade shows are scheduled to take place in the UK from September onwards. There will be differences in how they operate compared with events held at the beginning of the year. No matter.
The important thing is that they do take place. With that in mind, we need the government to give a clear message of support around their safe return.
Let’s get busy.
* Switzerland’s Federal Council is lifting measures put in place to tackle the coronavirus. From 22 June, events and gatherings for up to 1,000 people can take place. Contact tracing must be possible at all times.