By Deb Churchill
Tyler Schyvinck, facilities manager at Starlight Theatre, and I had the opportunity to attend the 2020 Academy for Venue Safety & Security thanks to a grant funded by LYRASIS and Performing Arts Readiness (PAR). The Academy for Venue Safety & Security provides education and experiences to develop and enhance safety and security capabilities of venue managers and others who serve the venue and event industry.
The faculty was made up of experts including venue managers and industry leaders. The primary focus was intense training of best practices that equips attendees with information, tools and methodologies to protect guests, customers, employees, property, and assets through risk identification, implementation of risk management practices and procedures, emergency planning, preservation of economic viability, and facilitation of recovery.
The Year One curriculum specifically addressed incident reporting, risk assessment & management and related legal issues, planning for event medical services, creating event safety briefings, event security operations, facility security operations, tactical first aid and responding to mass casualties, risk-based venue emergency planning and the functional elements of a venue emergency plan, crowd management theory and practice, building and life safety codes, the principles of training, and how to create and deliver training programs. We also engaged in experiential exercises, viewed footage of actual occurrences to study trends, movements and making adjustments in real time, as well as toured and heard from various operational directors at the convention center.
We have a “Duty of Care” for those that attend events in our venue which means we have an obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable harm. So, in a preparedness cycle we should be able to prepare, prevent, respond, and recover from circumstances that have potential to occur. The physicality of the venue should always be monitored for safety and response preparedness, assuring repairs are complete and emergency and medical equipment is tested, properly signed and in its proper locations. Risk cannot be eliminated but with proactive planning and implementation, we can minimize our risks. Operational readiness and optimizing team performance through proper training is essential for our success and managing Starlight Theatre.
The knowledge that the instructors had and shared was so relevant and makes you think about whether you are truly prepared. We came back with many new ideas, the need to review existing emergency and medical equipment, to walk the venue with a renewed perspective, to train and reiterate emergency protocol and to rate ourselves on our readiness. The two key phrases of “See Something; Say Something” and “KISS: Keep It Simple Silly” can make safety and security something everyone can help with and relate to. Tyler and I were on the Spartans team and the network of the peers in our group and all those in attendance is invaluable. We look forward to Year Two – GO SPARTANS!”
Tyler’s comment on the experience was that, “The AVSS training was a fire hose of information, but all incredibly valuable and pertinent to our roles we have at Starlight. AVSS helped me highlight processes and procedures we can improve on and gave me the tools to work on them. The opportunity to connect with other like venues across the country also provided insight on how they are tackling the same issues.”
Deb Churchill is vice president of operations at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri.
By Becca Wilusz, Ph.D.
Things have been extremely busy as we all adjust to the new normal, especially for those of us on acollege/university campus and within my own realm of athletics.
It’s definitely surreal being on an empty campus with students gone and so many working remotely. We were a little bit unique here at Duke in that our cancellation of classes came after all of our students had departed for Spring Break. “Operation Ship My Stuff” organized by our Housing & Residential Life Team was phenomenal in the very short amount of time it had to come together. It was inspiring to work alongside so many from all walks of University life over the last 48 hours to achieve that monumental task.
Within Athletics, we’re facility & event managers with empty venues until Fall Sports resume in August – but also with an immediate end of operations. We’re working on end of season “close-out” of facilities while also following University guidelines for social distancing, etc., so it’s going to be a VERY slow process. In addition to helping the larger campus community, we’ve been trying to make sure that our venues are ready for limited occupancy, scaling down HVAC/Lighting wherever possible and building out facility check routine for our 1 staff per day on campus to be able to catch things like leaks, etc., before they become major problems.
Becca Wilusz, Ph.D., is Director of Game Operations & Championships for Duke University Athletics.
By Mary Tucker
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released preliminary projections of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the U.S. business-to-business (B2B) exhibition industry in the coming months. These calculations were derived from cancellations reported to the organization by exhibition and event organizers.
“We have been closely monitoring the progress of COVID-19 in anticipation of how it will impact our industry for weeks,” noted CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM. “Data collection and analysis takes time and we are pleased to have enough information now to answer some of the questions we have been receiving.”
“This information is incredibly helpful for communicating to federal legislators the economic impact of the B2B exhibitions industry,” added 2020 Chairperson of the CEIR Board of Directors Carrie Ferenac.
“The information is being shared with industry associations who are advocating on the importance of trade shows to the U.S. economy, and the tremendous negative impact COVID-19 has had on organizer companies, venues and service providers, and to the people they employ.”
CEIR reports that there are about 9,400 B2B exhibitions held in the U.S. annually. The updated figure for the industry’s total impact on the U.S. GDP is $101 billion in 2019, up from $97 billion in 2018.
As of 15 March 2020, 50 B2B events have announced their cancellations. Notable events that have canceled include:
• Inspired Home Show by the International Housewares Association (over 800,000 net square feet [NSF]);
• HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) Global Health Conference and Exhibition (over 600,000 NSF);
• ASD (Affordable Shopping Destination) Market Week (about 600,000 NSF); and
• Natural Products Expo West (nearly 600,000 NSF).
These 50 events amounted to a total loss of 5.2 million NSF and $318 million in show organizer revenue. Taking into account direct spending of exhibitors and attendees, the loss to the economy stands at $1.8 billion.
New cancellation announcements are appearing daily, which is likely to increase with the recommendation made on 15 March 2020 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to cancel events that will attract 50 or more people for the next eight weeks. Readers should also note that simply counting the announced cancellations published in media reports significantly underestimates the actual number of cancellations, since the cancellation of many small- to medium-sized events does not typically attract media attention. This is especially true for events held in hotels.
There are about 2,500 B2B events held between 1 March and 15 May each year. CEIR believes that about 50% to 80% of those events have already canceled or will likely cancel in the coming weeks. Based on the cancellations reported as of 15 March 2020, CEIR calculates this will result in a loss of 41 to 65 million NSF and $2.3 billion to $3.6 billion in show organizer revenue. Combined with direct spending by exhibitors and attendees, CEIR estimates the total loss to the economy to be $14 billion to $22 billion.
“At this point, the decline in the exhibition industry is a one-off retraction of the industry’s size,” said
CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc.
“Since this is a transitory event, we expect a full recovery for the exhibition industry in 2021.”
For a more in-depth analysis by Dr. Shaw on the market effects of COVID-19, read his article here.
Mary Tucker is Sr. PR/Communications Manager for IAEE
In this issue of the newsletter, in addition to my personal experience in an automobile driving from Dallas to San Antonio last week to attend the Texas boys’ state high school basketball tournament, you will read insightful blogs from IAVM members Jeff Davis and Steve Mackenzie. I believe you will learn much from the thoughts and commentary that both of these gentlemen share, and will even likely be able to relate to the information in some form or fashion.
We would like to encourage IAVM members during these uncertain times of COVID-19 coronavirus to share your own insights and stories, whether current or from the past. We can all learn from each other and as your Association believe it is important to disseminate information to help make educated decisions.
Whether you have written something on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on social media, please do not hesitate to share with us your stories. Simply send your copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. As a matter of fact, the blogs by Jeff and Steve were granted to us to use after the authors wrote them in Facebook and LinkedIn, respectively.
By Steve Mackenzie
How ironic that only a few weeks ago I posted a blog about a life of travel, some tips to hopefully make your flights more comfortable and easier – and within a few days the world of travel as we know it has been changed forever.
I love to fly – and throughout my life I have lived through many major incidents that made most people avoid airports and flying, but not me.
I flew during the pilot’s strike in Australia in 1989 – when the two domestic airlines in Australia were totally grounded for around four months by the unions over a pay dispute. During that time the only ways to fly were on Air Force transport planes, or a couple of international carriers (like Lauda Air) that came in to operate on a temporary basis. I loved the experience! Didn’t stop me in the slightest!
I flew from Australia to the USA just over a week after 9/11 to attend a company conference, when most of the world thought anyone boarding a plane to the USA should be instantly committed to an insane asylum. LAX was a ghost town, and the planes were virtually empty. I felt entirely safe and canceling my flight was never an option I entertained.
I flew to Hong Kong during the SARS outbreak in 2003 because I wanted to attend the annual Rugby Sevens tournament when the rest of the world wanted to live in a bubble. I even saw a local wearing a facemask with a hole cut in it so he could smoke a cigarette! I attended the event and didn’t get sick in the slightest (if I don’t count the hangover). Never once did I consider canceling my flights.
I flew into LAX the day a TSA team member was tragically shot dead by a crazed, unstable gunman in 2013. I was actually on a plane between STL and LAX and on the inflight wifi when the news broke – we were diverted to John Wayne airport and then I caught a shuttle to LAX but had to walk the final mile because the roads around the airport were closed down. The airport was in total chaos and I ended up being put on a flight back east to meet another connection to my eventual flight to China. It was chaos but I felt safe and never once thought about cancelling my flight.
But this week my perspective changed. I canceled our family flight to London for Spring Break. First time I have ever voluntarily canceled a flight.
I wasn’t going to, even though COVID-19 hysteria was gripping the world. I don’t cancel. In fact I was quite looking forward to the empty airports, no lines at the tourist attractions, etc.
But on Wednesday night, things changed. The government here announced a travel ban from Europe (this still didn’t affect our trip directly), events were getting cancelled almost hourly, and the hysteria seemed to rise from DEFCON Level 4 to Level 1 almost instantly. Our flight wasn’t due to depart due unil Saturday, and I was still on the fence but the more I thought about things, the more I tried to consider the situation objectively. My parents-in-law were coming, and whilst I wasn’t worried about my own personal health and the thought of contracting the virus, they are in the high risk bracket – time to stop thinking about myself and consider others that this could affect. That was step one in making the decision. Step two was that there was a very real possibility the countries included in the ban could extend to the UK whilst we were away. And a vacation was not important enough to risk getting stuck somewhere or worse, being quarantined at a military base on the way back.
So we canceled, no big deal – we could maybe even fly somewhere interstate next week instead.
But as I started calling the various airlines, hotels/Airbnb sites that we had booked the UK trip with, I started noticing the timeframes for calls due to the volume – wait times of two hours plus. And even a couple of friends were posting on Facebook their frustrations at call times and the challenges they were facing trying to get home from work trips in the midst of this crisis we are in.
And that drove home the REAL reason why we shouldn’t be flying for the next week or more – it’s not the virus, it’s not the inconvenience of tourist attractions and events being closed down or canceled – it’s the humanity of it all. There are literally thousands of people trying to get home to their families right now, having their lives thrown into disarray purely because they were on a trip when their world was turned upside down last week. They need to get home, their families need them to be with them, they want to be with their loved ones in these scary and uncertain times that are unfolding day-by-day. Most of these people don’t have the luxury of airline or hotel statuses like I have, and have to wait hours/days to get rebooked. Why should I add to the mess that is airline travel right now for my selfish want to have a vacation? There is no reason at all for me to be further congesting an already overloaded system.
So here’s my advice to everyone – don’t fly. Stay home this week and next unless you need to get to your loved ones. Nothing else is that important. When this nightmare eventually blows over (and it WILL blow over), we can all get back to normal traveling – but in the meantime do your bit to slow down not only the spread of the virus, but also to ease the burden and stress on people getting home, and the service staff that are stretched to the limit dealing with this whole situation.
Steve Mackenzie is President at EventBooking. If experience is the best teacher, Steve knows a thing or two about flying. Having traveled over two and a half million miles since 2010 he spends an average of 400 hours a year on a plane.