Over the years, I have talked politics with very few people in the events industry, which is as it should be. The tradeshow and convention business is generally apolitical and most of the time anybody’s specific political views are irrelevant to the work at hand.
However, it has felt a little strange to go to industry-related conferences and events over the last couple of months and have nobody bring up the subject of Donald Trump, if for no other reason than the president seems to be all anybody is talking about everywhere else I go.
I think there were a couple of reasons for this. First, given the high emotions regarding the new president, nobody wanted to risk offending a client or customer if it turns out you don’t share their opinions. Second, there is such a sense of anxiety over the unknown quantity the Trump administration represents regarding trade policy and the global economy that nobody wanted to spook their exhibitors and attendees.
Last week’s confusing travel ban on refugees may have finally shifted the status quo in the events industry. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, anybody who saw images of the demonstrations at American airports understands this could put a damper on travel to meetings in the way the SARS and avian flu scares of recent years did. That’s even before we get to the disturbing question of who can and cannot travel to and from the United States.
For better or worse – and we don’t really know for sure – this could be just the start.
What’s an anxious event organizer to do? Even one that doesn’t want to admit to anybody that he or she is anxious?
Pitch your product. This should be the best of times for the events industry!
Early-year shows have had record-breaking crowds and showfloors. As an indication of the industry health, Emerald Expositions, after a flurry of acquisitions, will likely sell this year for double what it cost four years ago.
In the larger economy, a recent interest rate increase had virtually no negative impact, both consumer spending and business investment is picking up, home construction is on the rise and state and local governments are spending more money than before the recession.
Tell your anxious customers that story. Make exhibitors understand this is the time for them to introduce their products at your shows. Convince attendees they will miss out on valuable information if they do not attend your conferences.
Don’t stop now.
Michael Hart is a business consultant and writer who focuses on the events industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.No Fields Found.