Quarterly Update from IAEE

I would like to take a moment, and a deep breath, and acknowledge that we have made it through the first half of 2020. I am saddened by the loss of so many jobs, and specifically the decimation of the exhibitions and events industry. At PPAI, we had to make the difficult decision to cease any remaining live events in 2020 and to lay off some of our workforce. I see the struggle firsthand that organizations are facing across every facet of the exhibitions ecosystem regardless of where they are headquartered.

We are seeing varying degrees of the exhibitions and events reopening around the world based on the containment and mitigation of cases. Shows beginning in the Fall in countries such as Germany and the U.K., and those already happening in South Korea and China, are taking very specific and measured approaches to how they produce shows. There is resiliency in this industry to get people back to meeting face-to-face, and I am hopeful for a safe restart in the U.S. as soon as possible. On 15 July, CEIR held a critically important webinar that gave an update on the state of the industry. CEIR Economist Dr. Allen Shaw presented major factors that are delaying a reopening of shows in the U.S., including a lack of consistency in criteria for markets to open, fear of flying that will reduce attendees and exhibitors, the timing of when group meetings will be allowed regionally, and the persistence of no corporate travel policies; all of these factors will be a drag on the recovery of the industry. His worst-case scenario included a peak in mid-July with a second wave of COVID-19 cases in October, which would result in B2B exhibitions resuming in the April to June 2021 time frame, with a full recovery in 2022. He also presented his forecast for the recovery of both the global and U.S. economy. I would encourage you to download this presentation as it is full of valuable data to help your future planning. Now more than ever is the time to network and lean on your IAEE member community for ideas, successes in navigating hybrid and virtual events, and as a sounding board to navigate these times.


Since my last update in April, IAEE and the Exhibitions Mean Business (EMB) Campaign have been working overtime to coordinate efforts with other entities for COVID-19 relief and planning and executing a successful Exhibitions Day. IAEE has been heavily involved with the American Society of Association Executives, U.S. Travel Association, the International Association of Venue Managers, the Events Industry Council and Go LIVE Together coalition to provide timely updates on what is happening in Congress and providing action alerts for U.S. contacts to make to federal lawmakers. Just last week, the EMB campaign hosted more than 200 attendees on a webinar giving updates on our response to COVID-19, current collaborations and movement in Congress on specific bills. This is available for viewing on the EMB microsite here .

Exhibitions Day, which took place virtually this year on 3 June, saw a six-fold increase in participants from years past. Attendees networked and took action on social channels in small breakout rooms. Since the event, the EMB campaign has sent out two action alerts with detailed instructions on how to get more involved with messaging to local, state and federal lawmakers, along with new infographics to attach. EMB is also closely aligned with the Go LIVE Together coalition. EMB’s messaging and legislative priorities are complementary to the coalition and both have been sending updates to supporters. You may follow EMB efforts on social media and through the IAEE website here .

In June, IAEE released its highly anticipated white paper, Essential Considerations for Safely Reopening Exhibitions and Events , a collaborative effort with several industry associations. The white paper provides general information for consideration by exhibition organizers when planning for and producing an exhibition during a pandemic. Areas of content include General Principles for Health & Safety Operations; Communication, Education & Awareness; Exhibition & Event Operations; Convention Centre/Venue Cleaning Prevention Measures; and Legal Considerations.


We have made some changes to our education offerings over the summer. CEM Week is still taking place from 24-28 August, but both “weeks” will now be virtual. CEM candidates have the opportunity to choose from 10 classes instead of five this year. Visit the CEM Week page for schedules and more information.

We are also offering our CEM-AP course on 10-11 September following the Women’s Leadership Forum at the Lansdowne Resort & Spa earlier that week. This globally recognized designation is available for all who have held their CEM for 10 years or more.

Events & Marketplaces

Last week, we hosted 47 industry professionals during the WLF Rosemont hybrid event on 14 July virtually and in-person at the OLC Education & Conference Center.

The 2020 Expo! Expo! host city, Louisville Tourism, recently announced its support of the GBAC STAR™ facility accreditation program, with assistance in funding select hospitality industry venues, including the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) and the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC), for the first year. Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, has been actively involved in the first release and continued development of IAEE’s Essential Considerations for Safely Reopening Exhibitions and Events . IAEE is working closely with Louisville Tourism, KICC and other show partners on health and safety initiatives in planning towards holding Expo! Expo! face-to-face in Louisville, 8-10 December.

Two new business objectives have been added to the IAEE Technology Guide in response to the current COVID-19 fallout: Crisis Management/COVID-19 Response and Virtual Exhibitions & Events. All tech use cases are thoroughly reviewed prior to release.


The Membership Team has been conducting small Zoom buzz sessions for organizer members to better connect them during these unprecedented times. Members are encouraged to share current experiences to better help their fellow industry peers.

The Membership Engagement Committee is conducting new member meet-ups regionally. We’ve hosted the Midwestern and Southeastern Chapters to date and plan to continue hosting these meet-ups throughout the year. This connects new members through events, though they haven’t been able to connect during a face-to-face chapter event recently.

Please reach out to me, David or Cathy any time to discuss what is happening in your world, how we as an association can help, or anything else that is on your mind.


Bob McLean, CPA, CAE, CEM

2020 IAEE Chairperson of the Board

EVP, Promotional Products Association International (PPAI)