So we’ve just heard the seismic news that Mobile World Congress 2020 has been cancelled due to international concerns over the Coronavirius outbreak.
The ‘GSMA’, who are the organisation body behind the event, released a statement late on Wednesday, that to be completely honest wasn’t unexpected but still came as a huge shock.
The ball was already rolling.
For many, work for MWC2020 would have began in March last year. Once the 2019 show was de-rigged and put back in its box, attentions would immediately be drawn to the 2020 event. Planning meetings, designs drawn up, concepts pitched, more meetings, new designs amended, site surveys, technical meetings…..all taken place before the end of September. That’s still 5 months away from the opening of the show and much more planning work to come.
Unfortunately, this was only a decision that could be made closer to the deadline date due to the nature of the outbreak. There’s no blame there and certainly agree that this was the right call. But it’s just so unfortunate that crews were already on site and trucks had been deployed carrying the thousands of exhibition stands and kit. The ball was already rolling.
Will insurers pay up?
Hotels, flights, restaurants, break-out events, logistics all booked and paid for upfront. All to be hastily halted and told to turn around and head home. The cost of the cancellation of this one event is going to be very hard pill to swallow. This is a flagship event for many, and a lot is riding on this 4 day mobile technology showcase. Will insurers pay up? Do these agencies have the correct insurance to cover international virus outbreaks? Does this come down to force majeure? I doubt it.
In the 10 years that I’ve been in the corporate events industry, this is by far the biggest blow for our fellow agencies and contractors. We’ve had recessions, ash clouds and Brexit but none of these have really had too much of a noticeable impact on the industry. It’s a pretty resilient game to play in most of the time. But it appears we have found the exhibition worlds Kryptonite.
The stands are big. But the creativity is even bigger.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work at MWC in Barcelona for a number of years. Many would argue the event is laborious and exhausting, that they are happy to steer clear of each year if they can. But I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for it. Yes, I don’t disagree it’s sheer size and scale can be a challenge (especially on the feet!) but it’s the one time in the events calendar that we get to work alongside so many of our colleagues and friends, either in collaboration or simply on the stand opposite.
Companies are there to make an impact and size is often no issue. So, the stands are big. But the creativity is even bigger. It’s always exciting to see across the 2-week build-up and the 4 day show, these exhibition halls come to life. Huge LED walls, interactive art installations, the latest tech being utilised in ways you’ve never seen before. It’s a tech obsessed eventprofs dream! And I’m already looking forward to MWC2021.