Coronavirus cancellations pile up for trade show businesses – Daily News

on Mar13
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Companies that design and fabricate trade show displays are seeing cancellations pile up fast as businesses pull pack amid the coronavirus outbreak.

ExpoMarketing Group in Tustin is feeling a significant impact, according to Vice President Patrick Suh.

“We’ve had about 30 booths canceled since last Monday,” Suh said.

The company, he said, took a big hit with the cancellation of Natural Products Expo West which was going to be held at Anaheim Convention Center.

“Now it’s a good day if we don’t have at least one cancellation,” Suh said, adding that he hopes to avoid layoffs. “We have about 33 employees and our goal is not to course correct at the moment. We’ll wait for 60 days and re-evaluate. With our company, everyone is family and we want to make sure we take care of each other.”

As more events are postponed or cancelled, scores of trade show workers will likely be out of work — at least until the virus outbreak is brought under control and industry events resume.

ExpoMarketing Group in Tustin recently had 30 booths cancelled because of postponements related to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo courtesy of ExpoMarketing Group)

The Natural Products event, which showcases everything from vegan fish sauce to energy bars, had been scheduled for March 6-8, but New Hope Network postponed the show in response to the global spread of coronavirus. Last year’s show featured more than 3,600 exhibiting companies and drew more than 86,000 visitors from 136 countries.

“We know the impact of the postponement across the natural and organic products industry has been significant, and we are committed to doing all we can to alleviate that impact,” New Hope said in a posting on the Natural Products Expo West website.

Lots of moving parts

New Hope’s message makes it clear there are lots of moving parts to a trade show of that size.

“We at New Hope Network have been in discussions with the 60-plus Anaheim hotel partners that provide lodging through the Expo West hotel block and other Expo West vendors to determine how we all can best support the companies and individuals impacted by the postponement,” the posting said.

New Hope plans to disburse a $5 million fund it established to help shore up emerging brands and others that have been impacted by the delay.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty now,” Suh said. “Some companies have very strict policies and will pull out of shows quickly, while other shows are still going on.”

Vegas trade show goes on

The CONEXPO-CON/AGG construction trade show that’s underway in Las Vegas is a prime example. That event, which began Tuesday and runs through Saturday, March 14, would be a tough one to cancel, Suh said.

“That happens once every three years in Las Vegas,” he said. “It’s an indoor/outdoor show that pretty much takes over all of the city, and people bring big, heavy equipment. They didn’t cancel. They were very firm about it.”

‘A heavy toll’

IMI Exhibits, a City of Industry-based business that specializes in the design and fabrication of custom stalls, modular booths, displays, and showrooms for trade shows, is hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

“Many shows are being canceled and postponed,” said Erik Amador, an account executive with the business. “With the recent suspension of travelers from Europe and the postponement of the NBA, we anticipate that more trade shows — if not all — will be forced to cancel by mandate of the CDC.”

And the impact?

“It is taking a heavy toll on us as this is our primary source of revenue,” Amador said. “We depend on these trade shows, and with the coronavirus impacting all large gatherings around the world, we will not last long. We will stay strong in these times and are hoping to ride this out, with some assistance from the SBA. We are worried that we may need to shut our doors.”

Trade Show Display Depot, a Chino company that provides pop-up displays, backdrops and booths for special events, is also feeling the fallout.

“We just had our first cancellations yesterday and today,” sales representative Mike Rodriguez said. “And another customer who bought nine displays now wants to return them, and those displays were custom made for them. When the NBA suspended its season, I think that triggered a whole lot of panic and now everyone is canceling trade shows.”

More shows being postponed

Scores of other public events have been impacted by the fast-spreading coronavirus.

The Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in Riverside County have been postponed until October, and the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells has also been delayed. Other events that have been pushed back include the March Field Air and Space Expo in Riverside County and PaleyFest LA 2020, a Hollywood event that celebrates television and some of its biggest stars.

Additional event cancellations are being announced every day — a trend that doesn’t seem like to abate anytime soon.

Multiple industries affected

Suh said the ripple effects are far-reaching in his industry.

“There will be a huge impact, from travel to hotels to merchandise vendors and people who attend the shows, to union workers who install and dismantle trade show booths,” he said. “We work with all of these people. We have a rainy day fund, but that won’t last forever. Any business that doesn’t have one will eventually meet their demise.”

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