A recent programme on Roscongress TV has explored the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had on the convention and exhibition industry. Taking part in the discussion were Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Roscongress Foundation Alexander Stuglev; Chief Executive Officer of the Russian Convention Bureau Alexey Kalachev; and President of the Russian Union of Exhibitions and Fairs and CEO of ExpoForum International Sergey Voronkov. The discussion was moderated by renowned television presenter Alexey Bobrovsky.
The guests assessed the losses the industry has sustained as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. According to Kalachev, around 1,000 events have been cancelled around the world. In Europe, these cancellations have affected contracts worth a total of USD 14 billion. Russia accounts for approximately 5% of this figure.
No less important than the financial aspect are the social implications, with a great many small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the event sector. «Many of these companies are not able to fall back on large financial reserves. However, I am confident that they will do everything they can to protect their workers, as human resources are the greatest asset in our industry,» said Stuglev.
The guests cited a number of measures that can be taken to mitigate the negative effects caused by this development in events. These include tax breaks (including social payments), deferred payments on loans, and giving a national government body or agency supervisory powers to effectively protect the interests of the industry.
As restrictions on holding events are put in place, so the role of digital tools is growing significantly. «There is no doubt that the current situation will spur the development of various digital platforms and formats. They already exist, and many companies will now either switch to an existing IT infrastructure, or develop their own,» said Stuglev. Nevertheless, he was quick to point out that online formats would not be able to fully replace traditional events. «In time, the value of face-to-face contact will mean that people will inevitably have to meet in person. These meetings might initially take place at small events. Later, attention will again turn to large conventions and exhibitions which had been previously planned and postponed.»
The guests agreed that conventions and exhibitions form a strategically vital sector for the country, given their role in shaping its technological and economic potential. «Russia currently has a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to the world that it truly is a safe and secure haven for business, science, and politics. But this can only be done through holding conventions and exhibitions. Virtually all countries vying to be global leaders develop their convention and exhibition industry as a matter of government policy,» said Voronkov.
To learn more, watch the full programme on Roscongress TV.