Weekly News & Insights: Dealing with Shutdowns & Cutbacks

Photo: stock.xchng/RAWKU5

Photo: stock.xchng/RAWKU5

There’s no question that every American — and many other people worldwide — are beginning to feel the effects of the U.S. government shutdown. But in the meetings and trade show industry, that ripple is rapidly spreading.

Because travel for government employees was immediately suspended, none of them will be attending any conferences or trade shows. While initially it sounded like that only included making new travel plans, in reality it was a full-stop on all travel, even the trips that had already been arranged. So hotels are now losing lots of room nights that were already booked, and conferences who had government experts scheduled to speak are scrambling to find alternatives. For events that draw lots of international attendees, entering the U.S. will now be more difficult with reduced customs capabilities.

So what’s the answer — short of the government getting back to work, of course? It’s actually a good lesson for everyone: Don’t put too many eggs in any one basket. While you can’t control external circumstances, you can work to maintain a balanced mix of business. If you see too much revenue is coming from any one segment of your industry, focus on diversifying that mix. And for planners who have government speakers, look to other experts that may have a similar perspective.

Bottom line: Always have a Plan B, even if you can’t imagine needing one!

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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