As many of you have heard, I’m retiring and calling it a career. It’s been a fantastic 27-year run working in the trade show and events industry for some great companies including Eco-Systems Sustainable and Classic Exhibits. I’m leaving with many great memories and with more friendships than I can count. Our industry has some of the hardest working, creative, and caring people I’ve encountered in my 45-year working career, and I feel blessed to have stumbled into this crazy industry! The past 18 months have been difficult for all of us, but it has brought to light the true collaboration and culture of Classic and Classic Distributor Partners. It was pretty amazing to witness!
Having traveled extensively over the years, I’ve seen the United States through the lens of airports, hotels, convention centers, and businesses, and it’s time to hit the road and see what the country looks like outside of these areas. You never know… I might stop by and regale you with stories about a giant ball of twine or other amazing sights in the US.
Your friendship and support over the years made my decision to retire very difficult, but I will stay involved with the Midwest EDPA Chapter and hopefully attend future EXHIBITORLIVE shows so I look forward to connecting down the road. I’ll say good-bye for now and leave you in the capable hands of Jen, Harold, and Mel.
EDPA and EACA have issued a joint statement about the readiness of their collective members to get back to work as our industry re-opens. See statement below.
“Both organizations are grateful that we have reached the time when the industry is opening, and we can plan for the return of events. Yet, as we move forward, some questions are being raised.
One question is about the strength of the industry’s workforce. We have heard show organizers question whether companies that design, build and install displays at trade shows may not have adequate labor resources. EACA and EDPA can answer that question right now as our collective member companies are ready to get back to work. The exhibitor community is looking forward to working with us again as their preferred suppliers.”
The 90-minute moderated discussion was sponsored by Classic Exhibits.
In the Live Event industry, in all its forms, partnerships have historically been both fluid and cozy, meaning we mostly talk to those adjacent to our businesses. For example, at Classic Exhibits we chat with our distributors, a few exhibitors, various suppliers, and some service providers. However, we rarely talk to show organizers, GSCs, or venue operators. Not because we don’t want to but because those opportunities are rare and outside the scope of our normal business. As a result, we don’t always hear their perspective or experience their pain. That lack of communication extends to the general public and to our state and federal legislators as well.
So, how do
we change that post-pandemic? How do we build a more transparent and inclusive live
event community? There’s a general consensus that the pandemic represents an
opportunity to reinvent and rebuild our industry but what does that mean?
your perspective on the Live Event Industry, meaning what’s your role, what
that meant pre-COVID, and what that could mean post-COVID?
this is a BIG “AND,” is it possible to create an industry where all
participants have a voice, where their concerns are being addressed, and where
everyone is excited about the long-term viability of trade shows, concerts, and
The Experiential Designers and Producers Association, via their Exhibitor Advocacy Committee, recently published a statement regarding the future of post-pandemic trade shows. It’s a MUST MUST READ.
The first three paragraphs are below with a link to the full statement on the EDPA website.
WHO WE ARE
“The Exhibitor Advocacy Group is an ad hoc group whose members come from the corporate exhibitor community, exhibitor-appointed contractors, unions, show management, and general service contractors. Our mission is to ensure the successful future of trade shows, conventions, congresses, and other face-to-face business events. Our focus is on promoting transparent and reputable business practices, consistent standards, and new business models. We encourage all trade show industry constituents to join us in identifying best practices and helping to build a profitable and equitable industry for all constituencies.”
“Before COVID-19, the exhibitor experience on the show floor was deteriorating. Every year, exhibiting costs increased, and issues around transparency, metrics, and cost savings became more problematic. Exclusive show site services from the general contractor like material handling, electrical, and rigging became more complex and expensive, creating a lack of transparency for these services and the associated costs. Leads and data from attendees became proprietary information of show management, and the data was rarely shared so that exhibitors could calculate a meaningful ROI.
Most importantly, there was a significant lack of support from most show management organizations to find cost savings for exhibitors. Instead, the general contractors’ cost savings went to show management and were subsequently recovered through higher costs to exhibitors. Expenses continued to increase without added value. The industry had become stuck in a rut and very hesitant and reluctant to change. Many shows found themselves in a ‘business as usual’ scenario that added no value to anyone – organizer, attendee, or exhibitor.”
President Biden took
office last month and was tasked with bolstering an economy that has struggled
with the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic for almost a year.
With millions of people still unemployed due to the pandemic and businesses across
the nation facing continued uncertainty, reestablishing a sense of economic
security will be a daunting challenge.
As Biden and his team
weigh their options and decide how best to proceed, they should prioritize
lifting the tariffs that the last administration made central to its trade
strategy. While the tariffs were intended to level the playing field,
especially in trade with China, they have actually created complex and
difficult problems for U.S. businesses and consumers, especially as they navigate
the struggles posed by COVID-19.
Tariffs Punish American Workers and Companies
These problems arise
from the very simple truth that tariffs are taxes paid by the importer to the
U.S. government. They do not punish companies in China or Europe — they
punish businesses, consumers, workers, manufacturers, and families right here
Since the Trump
administration handed down its first slate of tariffs, igniting the trade war
in 2018, businesses such as ours have been forced to reckon with difficult
choices about how to handle the new costs. Either we could take on the costs
ourselves, which in many cases would simply prove burdensome, or we could pass
those costs on to customers, regardless of whether they were everyday consumers
or other businesses — as is the case with our own companies.
including ours, cannot simply pick up and move operations. Doing so would mean
jumping through extensive regulatory hurdles and incurring heavy costs
(sometimes tens of thousands of dollars for just a single product) as we
work to establish new relationships and supply lines.
While there was a
process for seeking exclusions to the tariffs levied by the last
administration, this process was muddled, was non-transparent, and resulted in
denied requests for exclusions for many of the businesses that applied, leaving
them stuck with the costs of the tariffs.
The Cost to Small Businesses
While some larger
corporations may be able to afford these kinds of burdens, these costs are just
too much for many smaller businesses to bear. As these businesses fail, so too
does the broader economy. Small businesses contribute hundreds of billions of
dollars to the U.S. GDP annually, and every business forced to close due to the
excessive costs of tariffs represents a significant loss.
Biden and his nominee to be the next United States trade representative,
Katherine Tai, have pledged to implement a trade policy that puts workers first. But simply put, that is not possible as long
as we remain engaged in a trade war that has cost the U.S. more than $68 billion, whose toll grows greater with every passing day and still has
no decisive end in sight. Every day that the trade war continues means greater
pressure on job creators and further job losses for hard-working people trying
to get their families through the coronavirus pandemic.
It was clear from the very beginning of the Trump administration’s trade wars that the heaviest losses would be felt at home, though the past administration pushed ahead, regardless. Now, Biden, Tai, and the rest of the administration’s economic decision-makers have the opportunity to right the ship and help businesses and families emerge from this pandemic even stronger.