Orlando trade show demonstrates ability for live events to return safely

Local economy and retail businesses see a boost, no new COVID-19 cases traced back to co-located fashion events


Following nearly a year of canceled trade shows, Go LIVE Together is working closely with major convention and exhibitions-oriented cities around the United States to helppromote safereopening plans and accelerate recovery for the business events industry’s nearly 7 million employees, as well as the markets they support. Recently, three heavy-hitters in trade show production and leaders behind a trio of fashion events teamed up to hold a groundbreaking co-located expo, whichserves as a case study to prove that business events canbe held safely. The event held Feb. 9-11, the first in the U.S. to offer onsite COVID-19 testing, proved that strict enforcement of protocols are the foundation to safely doing business, as no new cases resulted from the event.

“With health and safety as the number one priority, we are confident—as seen by the co-located fashion industry events in Orlando—that the face-to-face business events industry can operate successfully,” said Bob Priest-Heck, a member of the Go LIVE Together Operating Committee and CEO of Freeman. “In-person connections and tactile buying experiences such as this create impactful business opportunities and drive local economies through incremental spending on travel, hotels, and restaurants.”

Thethree fashion trade shows—MAGIC Pop Up Orlando, WWIN Orlando Showcase, and OFFPRICE Orlando Market—werebacked by leading event producersInforma Markets, Clarion Events, and Tarsus Group, andco-located at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. As a Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accredited venue, it has emerged as one of the nation’s leading facilities when it comes to preparedness for outbreak prevention, response and recovery strategies in a post-pandemic climate.

“Our commitment to the well-being of our employees, guests and attendees is evidenced by the fact that the Orange County Convention Center is one of the only convention centers in the U.S. that’s hosting large-scale events safely right now,” said Mark Tester, OCCC Executive Director. “We’re honored to have played a role in the success of these show, and we will continue to lead our industry to recovery by supporting healthy, safe environments that allow groups to meet with confidence.”


The event was guided and organized in accordance with the CDC-approved exhibitions-industry All Secure Guidelines, which prioritizes enhanced cleaning and hygiene, physical distancing and protecting participants through the use of PPE. These measures included:

  • Mandatory face masks at all times
  • Daily temperature checks prior to entering show floor
  • Physical distancing requirements as directed by local health authority and government guidance both on the show floor and in public spaces
  • Continuous sanitization and deep cleaning measures, especially in high-touch areas, across all shows

As an additional layer of safety, show organizers provided on-site testing, with a negative COVID test result required to enter the show floor.Those that tested positive were referred to Orlando Health for adviceand next steps and were not admitted to the show. In the weeks following, there have been no known cases of COVID-19 linked to the event.

“Hosting a platform for business and connection in Orlando this February was a customer-driven decision, based on expressed community sentiment to return to in-person opportunities and begin the pivotal journey toward recovery,” said Nancy Walsh, President, North America, Informa Markets. “Through this unique collaborative approach in standing up smaller scale versions of our larger, keystone events, all three of our events were able to offer various segments of the fashion industry an economic restart during a critical first buying opportunity early on in 2021, providing greater impact and deeper value to our brands and retail buyers when they most need it.”

“In providing a safe and controlled environment, we hope our success will provide reassurance and confidence that live shows can still be an effective way to do business once again,” said Tricia Barglof, Executive Director of OFFPRICE, a Tarsus event.

The February trade show represent a proof of concept for the production of successful in-person events—one that show organizers and industry advocates hope will lead to the reopening of business events across the nation.

Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance (ECA) Chairman and Emerald President & Chief Execution Officer Hervé Sedky added, “As other states consider their reopening plans, this event serves as a case study in optimal execution and offers a beacon of hope for cities keen on hosting live events to aid in the economic recovery driven by conferences and exhibitions.”

Business events are vital to supporting every major sector of the U.S. GDP and are a key component of the U.S. economic recovery. The live events industry contributes over $1 trillion to the U.S. economy, driving and supporting entrepreneurship, innovation, ingenuity, and job creation. It employs millions ofpeople, including union workers and independent contractors, and creates marketplaces that enable small businesses to become big businesses. According to Go LIVE Together’s research, in Orlando alone, 2019 business events brought in more than $9.9 billion and created over 78,000 jobs.

“The live events industry has the ability to kickstart the recovery that our country desperately needs right now,” said Desiree Hanson, Executive Vice President, Clarion Events, WWIN Shows. “These events don’t just serve the specific industries and professional communities that they represent—they drive business to the hotels, restaurants and stores in our host cities, and we need them to come back. Our industry knows how to plan and execute events safely, we’ve demonstrated that. Allow us to come to the table and help get business back on track.”

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