By Brad Foster

News out this week from Japan reports that exhibition organiser Informa Markets has just successfully hosted four exhibitions in that country. They included the Call Center/CRM Demo & Conference Osaka, eCommerce Fair Osaka, Diet & Beauty Fair (Tokyo) and PROJECT Tokyo, which combined had more than 20,000 in attendance.

This is a country that on Wednesday had recorded 80,150 COVID-19 cases with 1521 deaths. Australia’s tally on Wedneday was 26,942 and 854 deaths, and New Zealand’s was 1815 cases and 25 deaths.

This is a country whose citizens are complicit with their government’s directives, with few protests about anything.

We Aussie and Kiwis don’t mind protesting about something that is dear to us and we do.

Which makes me wonder whether being told that we can’t gather in groups greater than 20 or we have to have a four square metre rule is just the excuse many of us need to NOT have to attend a meeting or exhibition.

And, if that’s the case, then Houston, Business Events Has A Problem.

How, please somebody tell me, can the NSW Government agree that the Rugby League finals series can be played to a half packed stadium at Sydney Olympic Park – that’s around 40,000 people – and yet meetings are off the table?

The true fact is that meetings aren’t off the table. Meetings can be held by working to the four square metre rule. So why aren’t they being held?

I go back to my headline. Is it Aussie (and Kiwi) lethargy? Is the current circumstances and challenges simply too hard to work around or, as I am wondering now six months down the track, a great excuse to do nothing?

“Gee, it’d be nice to get everyone together for a meeting.”

“Yeh, but…”

I question whether people are getting comfortable sitting in their homes and doing the occasional Zoom call. For the majority of us city workers, we’re saving two hours a day commuting. And that’s just for starters. Not having to talk to that annoying so-and-so in accounts every day isn’t something we’re missing either.

So is it lethargy? Is it us being totally complicit with our government? Or is it something else entirely?

Perhaps, just perhaps, the problem is that as much as we don’t want to admit it, people don’t value the power of business events like we thought they did. And maybe those working in the sector are just too close to recognise that.

We love attending business events because we do it for a living, or at least we did. But maybe not everybody feels that way and this pandemic is a great opportunity for the majority of people to take a little break from them.

If that’s the case then whose fault is it?

Well, it’s all of ours. We as an industry sector just haven’t demonstrated the power of meetings and events enough.

What will be interesting over the coming months is whether that big pot of money the Federal Government has announced to stimulate the sector will get people out of their houses and back into conference rooms around the country. Of course I hope it does but I’m really not sure whether it will.

I would love your thoughts. Email me… I’m in my office at home… waiting… for… someone to tell me what I should be doing…