November 11, 2020

Good News on Vaccine Front Spurs Cautious Optimism for Events

Travel, hotel, and trade show company stocks all soared on Monday as news that the preliminary clinical trial results of Pfizer’s vaccine indicate it could be up to 90% effective in participants who had no signs of prior infection. While the results are still preliminary and questions remain on what exactly this could mean, trade show giant Informa and Viad, which owns GES, saw their stocks shoot up as in-person event alternatives, such as Zoom, took a double-digit dive.

Do industry insiders share the Wall Street optimism on what this news could mean for trade shows moving forward? In a (qualified) word, yes.

"We are truly encouraged by the announcement that the vaccine in this trial has proven to be 90% effective," said Charlie McCurdy, CEO, Informa Markets. "This is a positive sign, not just for our industry, but for the business communities we bring together and for the cities in which we host our exhibitions around the globe. An effective vaccine, alongside close partnership with health authorities, governments, and venue partners will help to restore permissions and confidence as we look forward to the return of controlled in-person gatherings, such as we have seen in Mainland China."

"These initial results are a bright ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds we face today for physical events," said Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which produces the mega CES show, and a TSE Editorial Advisory Board member. "This is a big step given how lopsided the results and big the sample size!"

Similarly, Hervé Sedky, President, Reed Exhibitions Americas & Global ReedPop, RELX Group plc, and a TSE Editorial Advisory Board member, said, "This is obviously very encouraging news for all of us who care deeply about the health and economy of our nation. We are watching these developments very closely and, like our friends in other industries, are eager for a safe and effective vaccine to become widely available."

Added David Audrain, Executive Director of the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and CEO and Partner, Exposition Development Company, Inc., “The news of the high efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine tests is extremely positive news for the world and will give organizers, exhibitors and attendees some hope that we can return to in-person events more quickly over the next year.”

The mood related to the vaccine news is also decidedly sunny on the international front. "The World Health Organization predicted that the first vaccines would be available before the end if the year — it seems they are right, and that is great news! This can be the moment when the tide turns," said UFI Managing Director and CEO Kai Hattendorf.

However, he added, "It will take months to get millions and millions of people vaccinated around the world, so we will need to keep pushing for rapid-testing schemes to keep business going in the meantime. And we need to run shows safely, following the good practices and guidelines that we as an industry have developed — like the UFI Global Framework. Our industry has held hundreds of B2B trade shows around the world in recent weeks successfully, without reported infections.

And, while we in our sector are convinced that people are eager to return to the show floors, and our research shows the same, the reactions on the stock markets show the investors’ confidence that people are eager to resume face-to-face events."

Read more industry reactions in the full article here from Trade Show Executive.