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On the Front Lines of COVID-19: IFA Berlin, Las Vegas Market, IMC, Visit Indy, ELI & MPI

Spring forward, fall back. As we look to the changing of the seasons, the nation’s economy is showing the first signs of returning to normal. Employment rates are up and the tradeshow industry is (slowly) starting to fall back into familiar the patterns of the past. Not everything is rosy, nothing will ever be fully the same, but enterprising individuals across the world of conventions and events are ever chipping away at that exciting new frontier.

Germany’s calm, united approach to COVID-19 is starting to bear fruit at a time when much of the rest of the Western world cannot agree on the day of the week. On Sept. 2, the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin consumer electronics show (pictured above) opened to great applause in the German capital. Sure, this year’s show was scaled down dramatically (last year IFA had more than 2,300 exhibitors. This year, the number was 180), but the fact that in-person events are starting to be held is a bit of good news we can all point to.

But Europe is not alone in tentatively approaching in-person meetings. In Sin City, the 2020 Summer Las Vegas Market was held from Aug. 30-Sept. 3, and like its consumer electronics counterpart in Berlin, the event was held in-person. Operating a showroom-only approach, the meeting was smaller than previous incarnations, with attendance at 20 percBob Maricich CEO of IMCent compared to those who attended last year.

Despite the low attendance, what mattered was that the show went ahead, and that it provided a real-world opportunity for firms to test convention safety and PPE measures in a controlled setting. Measures included contactless badging, temperature screening, educational signage and showroom occupancy limits.

“Being the first event in Las Vegas, there were a lot of eyes on us from the health department and the governor’s task force,” says Bob Maricich (pictured left), CEO of International Market Centers, overseeing the health and safety element of the show.

In Indianapolis, Ind., the city’s “back on track” reopening program (designed to reinvigorate the local economy) has led to a surge in events and meetings. Following the reopening of Indiana Convention Center on July 7, the city has hosted 18 events, with more than 40,000 attendees and exhibitors, and with more planned for the near future.

“With hospital-grade air filters circulating outside air 24 hours a day and Clorox machines deep cleaning the [convention center] building throughout the day, we have been able to keep visitors safe and healthy while convening in Indy,” says Chris Gahl, senior vice president of marketing and communications for Visit Indy.

Rounding things off on a digital note, the first Pandemic Meeting & Event Design Certificate course launched on September 1. As noted in a previous edition of On the Front Lines, the six-week course is eligible for 20 CMP hours, and works off a curriculum jointly designed by the education departments of the Event Leadership Institute and Meeting Professionals International.

“We’re proud to launch this course with ELI as it directly addresses questions and concerns we hear each day from our members,” says Jessie States, director of MPI Academy. “We understand the urgency planners face to understand areas impacted most by the pandemic, including risk management and reduction, new venue protocols, contracts and safer event design.”

Upcoming stories in this series will feature companies and individuals who have risen to the occasion to build temporary medical facilities, masks and whatever is needed during the current crisis. If your company is going above and beyond to assist in this fight, please email us at newsdesk@exhibitcitynews.com and Amadeus at amadeus_finlay@hotmail.com for inclusion in future stories in this series.

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