COVID-19 ISO Insights

COVID-19 Concerns Cancel and Postpone Conferences Worldwide

March 16, 2020

By: Christopher Sirota, CPCU

Wall Street Journal has reported that businesses conferences around the world have been forced to cancel or postpone due to concerns related to the novel coronavirus.

According to the article, conference organizers have been faced with major company exhibitors withdrawing from conferences and well as attendees forecasted not to show as immediate reasons to cancel or postpone.  Cities where the conferences would have been held reportedly face economic losses in the millions because of the lost revenue typically generated from such events.

The article noted that "[o]rganizers in Asia, Europe and North America have canceled or postponed at least 440 trade shows and exhibitions in response to the coronavirus this year."

The article provided the following examples of canceled conferences:

  • Google Developers Conference: 7,000 attendees were expected
  • Geneva International Motor Show: "The event attracts more than 500,000 visitors annually and was expected to generate between $209 million and $261 million in economic activity."
  • Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: "Organizers had forecast it would generate $546 million regionally and create more than 14,000 part-time job." ATT and Deutsche Telekom AG both had reportedly withdrawn.
  • CERAWeek (an energy trade show) organizer's expect to lose $50 million.  Per the article, attendance fees are about $8,500 each, and the organizer plans to issue refunds.

Regarding postponements, the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, which welcomed about 29,000 attendees last year, has reportedly been postponed until the summer.  Also, the Natural Products Expo West organic food show was reportedly postponed after Nestle, Unilever and Costco, among others, decided not to exhibit; attendance, estimated at about 87,000, was also expected to drop by up to 60%.