By Stu Katzen, owner and creative director, Eventify

Stu Katzen asks how the coronavirus is playing out in the events sector

The last few weeks has seen the world and Australia go a little crazy in the wake of the coronavirus scare.

From knife wielding in supermarkets, to empty shelves of toilet paper, rice and pasta and from hazmat suits and masks, to accusing Asian children in schools of being responsible for the viral outbreak; the worst of our fears and panic has been allowed to come to the fore on the back of media scare tactics and social media misinformation.

So how does this all play out for our industry?

Currently, from all reports and speaking to industry colleagues and friends, non-essential travel is being cancelled. Incentive programs, overseas and interstate conferencing has either been cancelled or postponed and even local conferences are being tabled for next year or very late this year. Restaurants and venues are distraught, travel agents devastated and in general the travel and events industry in Australia is reeling from the recent fire scare and now this.

From the point of view of corporates and associations, whatever our personal feeling about the viral scare, the above is understandable. Would you be willing to send a group overseas and risk even one of your guests getting sick? The fallout would be catastrophic as we saw in the recent quarantine of the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama for 14 days and then the subsequent quarantine in Australia for another 14 days. The obvious answer is no! No one wants that and you certainly cannot expect any organisation to place their staff in harm’s way no matter how small the risk.

However, as one colleague put it, “I spent the last two days putting a risk assessment and outbreak policy together, based on the worst possible outcome. Now I need a few glasses of wine and to sit back and reconnect with the reality that the chance of getting sick is slight and the chance of dying even more ridiculous, as a currently healthy person.”

So let’s look at the current stats…, as at March 9, 2020:

  • There has been a total of 114,274 Coronavirus cases, of which 88,739 cases are in China.
    Of those cases, 87 per cent are classed as mild condition, nine per cent moderate and four per cent serious
  • Of those cases, 66,843 have now been closed, with 94 per cent of those cases having been discharged as recovered

Moreover, looking at the ages of those who are dying of this virus, the death rate for people under 50 years of age is only 0.2 per cent.

This means that if you are under 50 years of age and don’t live in China – you are more likely to win the lottery.

To put things into perspective, on the same day:

  • 826,283 people died of cancer
  • 24,641 people died of heart disease
  • 4300 people died of diabetes
  • Suicide took 28 times more lives than the virus did
  • Mosquitoes kill 2740 people every day
  • Humans kill 1300 fellow humans every day
  • Snakes kill 137 people every day
  • Sharks kill two people a year

So, whilst the coronavirus is serious and definitely something not to be ignored, it is not yet the worldwide pandemic some people are foretelling and it is not necessary to panic and stock up on hazmat suits, toilet paper, tinned foods and head for the bunkers just yet.

Heading into a new decade, as events, hospitality and incentive industry people, we need to acknowledge this will not be the last scare that will come our way and we need to be ready to deal with these scares and work with our clients in providing alternate solutions and mitigating fear and panic.

So, after making sure we all have that all-important roll of toilet paper in our event kits, chin up and soldier on!