Integrated Systems Europe is now just a couple of days away, and I am headed there from London – the last leg on my hairy trip over.
There was snow and freezing rain in Halifax when I left, and big snow in Montreal (normal for there) when I connected, making the plane late and forcing a mad run from gate 4 or something to gate 60, which is roughly 25 kms away (or felt like it). At about gate 48 I heard the final boarding message.
But I made it!
Now there is something called Storm Ciara bringing crazy winds and sideways rain to the UK and Benelux, which had me thinking my quick flight over from London City Airport to Schiphol might … not … happen. That, plus landing in a turboprop at Schiphol in 90 kmh winds, sounded unpleasant, in the extreme.
So I am on a train this morning. No turbulence at all.
The ISE people have put out what is perhaps a final notice on the exhibitor situation regarding the Coronavirus.
While our advice – and the official advice – on the Coronavirus remains unchanged, we would like to reassure our attendees and exhibitors that ISE 2020 is going ahead.
Various unfounded rumours have been circulating that some major companies are withdrawing from the show; in particular, we can advise that Optoma have confirmed to us that they will be taking part.
We acknowledge that LG and Iiyama have cancelled, and we respect their decisions. Some 50 Chinese companies have had to withdraw due to travel restrictions and flight cancellations.
There are still more than 1250 exhibitors who are remaining in the show and plan to make ISE 2020 a success.
Samsung is there, but I had a note from PR people indicating that the Korean and other executives usually there to say hello and do a semi-personalized tour will not be available.
I was chatting with a few people in the last few days, wondering how a company can walk on a show and effectively “eat” all the baked-in costs. One person said it was quite simple: exhibitor insurance.
So I looked it up, and sure enough, the coronavirus is being cited in force majeure claims. Here’s a bit from a Bloomberg report:
Illness is a very unusual reason for declaring force majeure, but coronavirus isn’t a common ailment. It has quarantined entire cities in China, overwhelming hospitals while leaving streets and workplaces empty. Some commodity contracts won’t include epidemics, Perrott said, although a case could still be argued. “The more the measures to contain the virus prove to be unsuccessful,” he said, the stronger the case. However, it’s a brave trader who turns to the legal system to take on China. In practice, those doing business with the world’s fastest-growing economy may find it easier to negotiate a solution that works for both sides.
So while it may seem drastic to pull from a show, if someone in a company had the foresight to insure against uncontrollable “acts of god,” then insurance could cover the loss. If a company was looking to trim expenses, a force majeure clause could be just the ticket.
To be clear, I am not saying the appearance of this virus is, in any way, a good thing, but it might explain some decisions.
There are still 200+ exhibitors from China at the show, though many may well be staffed by people from other countries, given travel restrictions.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.