Few industries have been hit harder than exhibitions and conferences since coronavirus took hold, effectively back to when ICE London bid farewell to 40,000 visitors in February this year. Since then, nothing meaningful on a trading show floor has taken place, not just here, but anywhere in the world. The likelihood of the UK’s exhibition doors re-opening could possibly start with keynote amusements expo EAG, with organisers this week discussing their return to action. Date options are now being examined and the show will go on – it’s just a case of when. We’ll know in a few weeks.
An EAG Expo will definitely happen in 2021,” the chairman of the exhibition Martin Burlin, told Coinslot late Wednesday afternoon. “We’ll be confirming the final details in the next few weeks.”
For an industry whose manufacturing side has taken a huge hit during the Covid period, that’s very good news.
The indicator followed a week of extensive talks between EAG, Bacta members and exhibitors, organised through a series of zoom meetings to identify the key factors necessary to get the show up and running sometime early in the new year.
“The industry has been hit desperately hard by coronavirus,” Burlin noted, “and the coming months are going to be very important for businesses as they prepare for the new trading season. This week we have looked at all the issues facing our exhibitors and we’re going to work through the comments and finalise a proposition that will help set the industry wheels back in motion for next year.”
This proposition, it is understood, starts with the date for EAG 2021. Originally scheduled for 12-14 January 2021, this remains an option, with a number of people favouring an early return to the show floor. At the same time, two alternative dates – later in the winter and early spring – are also believed to be strong contenders for the exhibition calendar, with many believing a later date to be both safer and more convenient.
“There are a number of views as to when the show should return,” Burlin explained. “And there are so many factors to take on board – many of which are outside of our control and in the hands of the government. So we need to look at these dates carefully and balance the concerns such as possible local lockdowns and travel restrictions with the industry’s needs of key selling times ahead of Easter and the May bank holidays.”
Whatever happens, it is expected that should the show be cancelled for any reason, deposits will be returned to all exhibitors, an ‘important recognition’ advised Burlin, that “cash has been a major problem for the industry during Covid.”
One thing is certain, the return of EAG, be it in January or any alternative through to early May, will take place in one of the most Covid-secure environments, a key plus for the show; the ExCeL centre is able to comfortably meet all social distancing requirements and Covid-guidance rules.
So, a decision on EAG 2021 will be made in the next few weeks, during which time the wrinkles, as one Bacta figure said, “will be ironed out”. “As it stands the show is going ahead but there are lots of options about the how and when.”