SHENYANG, China — “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” is a truism that the Shenyang New World Expo has embraced. It was officially shut down by the Chinese Authority due to COVID, which forced three events scheduled for January, April and December 2020, to be rescheduled. However, five major shows were held in March and it welcomed a total of 187,952 delegates who attended in-person in Shenyang, Liaoning’s provincial capital city in the northeast region of China, clearly affirming that the demand for in-person events remains as robust as the determined spirit of the trade show industry.
Diane Chen, General Manager and Member of the Board of Shenyang New World Expo, attributes vigilance and emergency preparedness of the Expo staff to ensuring the shows went on. “Strict implementation of preventive measures supported by local authorities; a proactive response of the government to combat the pandemic; the ability for China to test millions of residents within several days and, very low infection rates occurring throughout the entire PRC,” helped move the ball forward, she said.
Show organizers, working closely with Shenyang’s health commission, commerce bureau and public security bureau, kept organizers abreast of pandemic updates in addition to operational advice from UFI, the global association of the exhibition industry, and the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM).
However, while trade show success stories flourish, the ongoing struggle with COVID-19 continues to challenge show organizers in Asia, as it has elsewhere, as recent events in Singapore demonstrate. Following a recent spike in community cases of COVID-19, tighter restrictions were announced to restrict MICE pilot events to 250 persons (down from 750) with all events of more than 100 attendees required to implement on-site pre-event testing for all participants.
But Can We Get Something to Eat?
While food and beverage (F&B) presents its own challenges, Diane Chen did serve F&B when The Shenyang New World Expo was finally given the green light to open. “Expo always encourages physical distancing and additional hygiene measures, such as integrated one-way lanes with `grab and go’ provisions and social distancing, distanced tables and limited capacities inside restaurant areas,” she said. Further, Expo adopted cashless and touch-free payments and use of pre-ordering service to reduce queuing. And Chen says that the facility does serve buffets when the venue is allowed to open following extended periods of no new infections within the region. “Additionally, every guest must show the Green Health Code (a green code enables its holder to move about unrestricted) and get his/her temperature checked before they enter into the venue.”
Diane Chen reminds us that the health and safety of venue staff and attendees must be the venue’s priority. “Venue leadership must work on a detailed reopening plan and then implement that plan to ensure the safety and health of the venue staff and attendees before holding any event.” At the moment, she said, venue management should encourage (if not require) all venue staff to get fully vaccinated.
“We learned that pandemic prevention and control is the new normal and that venue staff need to adapt and be ready because the event booking can be interrupted anytime,” Chen said, adding that venues and show organizers must be ready to quickly respond to changes and have plans for interruptions to reduce risks and be ready to bounce back with confidence.
Reach Diane Chen (86 24) 3161 9898 dianechen@shenyangnwEXPO.com