Coronavirus and Meetings
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Updated March 26 at 9:20 a.m. EDT
Once-bustling convention centers now lay dormant across the country, as bans on group gatherings from local and federal governments have brought the events industry to a standstill for at least the next few weeks. But some venues, such as the Orange County Convention Center, are looking ahead and already getting business back on the books for when the coronavirus epidemic has subsided.
As of March 25, the OCCC, which is the nation's second-largest convention center, had 28 conventions on the books that had to be cancelled or postponed. While 14 conventions were cancelled outright, representing an estimated economic loss of $446.4 million, the venue has been able to rebook another 14 conventions for a later date. The rescheduled events, which will bring $371.5 million in revenue, have been moved to either later this year or to 2021.
"Our goal with every convention is to reschedule their dates if at all possible," said Orange County Convention Center executive director Mark Tester. "The majority of our clients have rescheduled for the fall and winter. Our priority now is to reschedule our long-time clients, but we also have potential business knocking on our doors because of our reputation. Our industry and our clients understand that after we flatten the curve together, the OCCC will be ahead of the curve for our clients and convention attendees."
Rescheduled events include the ISA International Sign Expo (moved from early April to the end of August), Premiere Orlando 2020 (rebooked from late May to August) and AmCon 2020 (rescheduled for September).
"While the entire global convention industry has been hit hard right now, history has shown that Orlando is an extremely resilient destination," said Mike Waterman, chief sales officer of Visit Orlando. "We have clients and attendees who have a strong affinity for our experiences, and also a high trust level that our tourism partners, local officials and community will work together to quickly and successfully resume operations. Because of this high level of demand and history, virtually every conversation has been focused on clients eager to reschedule at a later date, so that their groups can still have the amazing experiences they were looking forward to."