Today should be the heart of Surf Expo in Orlando, with about 7,000 attendees checking out more than 800 exhibits at the Orange County Convention Center.
But they aren’t.
On Sunday, the Surf Expo team made the difficult decision to cancel the entire show due to Hurricane Dorian. They published a statement on the show’s web site:
“We understand that Surf Expo plays an important part in connecting buyers and sellers in the Boardsports Beach & Resort industries and that many rely on our marketplace for filling their commerce needs, but travel and logistical difficulties and, more importantly, our customers’ safety is at the forefront of our minds,” said Roy Turner, SVP, Surf Expo Show Director, Emerald Expositions. “Given the state of affairs regarding Hurricane Dorian today, we had no choice but to cancel Surf Expo. We recognize that many of our customers will be directly impacted by Hurricane Dorian and feel their focus should be on their families, businesses and community at this time.”
Cancelling a show isn’t a snap decision, and it brings up all kinds of questions. Surf Expo addresses many of them on their site as well.
First of all, exhibitors will receive refunds for not only their exhibit space rental, but also for some other expenses, as provided in the show’s cancellation and supplemental insurance policy. All hotel rooms booked through the official housing partner were also cancelled with no penalty.
But of course refunding money isn’t the only concern. What about the loss of contact with all those attendees? Surf Expo has a plan for that, too.
According to their website, they’re offering:
- All exhibitors get upgraded to a full online listing, which will be available through October 31. This includes the ability to upload a video, product images, show specials, press releases, and more.
- In addition, the show will upload an exhibitor’s product catalog for buyers to browse.
Based on the magnitude of this decision, it’s likely that the show will come up with other ways to bring buyers and exhibitors together. It will be interesting to see how it all evolves.
But the larger question is what happens next year: Will the show change location or dates to avoid getting into a similar situation? They’re currently studying the situation, so time will tell.