How Might Coronavirus Impact ISE Exhibitors And Attendees?

With ISE just a couple of weeks out now, it’s hard not to wonder about the prospects of wandering around the tight, confusing confines of the RAI in Amsterdam – and jamming into subways and trams – with 80,000 attendees, many from China.

I have been going to the show for several years now, and have at least twice picked up an impressive head cold by the time I was heading home. That’s kinda part of the deal, but this year the risk and possibilities are compounded because there are many exhibitors at the show who come from China, particularly the LED and mounts guys. Picking up a cold from some guy from Germany I shook hands with is one thing. Contracting the coronavirus is a lot more serious.

The electronics manufacturing hub of Shenzhen is far from Wuhan  – the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak – but there are LED display and tech companies all over China, notably from the Shanghai area.

This could have a few impacts:

  • Exhibitors unable to get out of China and get to ISE;
  • Thinned staffing ranks at some booths;
  • A lot of attendees doing knuckle-bumps and going through hand sanitizer gel by the gallon. Free idea for exhibitors: branded hand-gel travel-sized bottles as giveaways.

Because the show planning and shipping would have probably been done, in many cases, well ahead of time because of Chinese New Year (which shuts down the country for a week and more), the impact on booth set-ups may be minimal. But people based in locked-down cities, who would build and staff stands, might not be able to get out.

Should it stop people from unaffected or minimally affected countries from even going? I really don’t think so, but that’s an opinion FAR better provided by the World Health Organization than me. 

The general view is that the virus is primarily dangerous for people already in poor health, as with any flu.  Some people just get what seems like a cold or mild flu, but a percentage  are becoming very ill, or dying.

Commercial Integrator has an interesting post up exploring the implications, as well on ISE, but also on the broader implications in the AV sector, like a rise in videoconferencing.

It’s not changing my plans, but when you see me in Amsterdam, don’t be offended when I go for a fist-bump instead of a handshake.

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