Let’s face it, in general, people are not ready for in-person trade shows. While the future looked bright at one point this year, the situation quickly deteriorated as the virus and variants began to spread. Just this week, NAB announced that the in-person trade show was cancelled, hinting to a virtual one. However, with just weeks to go, it appears that there was not enough time to pivot, and as a result, there will be no NAB 2021.
SIGGRAPH 2021 had been planned as virtual, but NAB was hopeful and planned an in-person event for early October of this year, followed by another in-person NAB in April 2022. As concern over public safety began to swirl, the show management tried to temper those fears with various safety protocols, initially promising sanitizing stations throughout the halls, and then moving to stricter mandates, including masks for unvaccinated, and then requiring proof of vaccination for attendees and vendors, limited capacity at presentations, and extensive, mandatory sanitizing protocols.
However, as the safety measures increased, so, too, did people’s reluctance to attend a major trade show, as the number of COVID cases continued to rise — attendees and vendors alike. Vendors slowly began pulling out, and after the Labor Day weekend, more and more followed suit, including stalwarts like Blackmagic Design, Adobe, Sony, and more.
While the signs of a recovery were present months ago, what we learned here is that with a pandemic, the situation can turn on a dime. And, it seems that it did.
By now, everyone likely has heard that this fall’s NAB show has been cancelled. Although show staff had hinted as a virtual component, that is no longer an option, and NAB organizers instead are looking to the planned 2022 conference.
Chris Brown, executive VP and MD of Global Connections and Events at the National Association of Broadcasters, has issued this statement: “For more than a year we have worked tirelessly to bring our industry together safely in Las Vegas at NAB Show. Unfortunately, the pandemic and surge of the Delta variant has presented unexpected and insurmountable challenges for our global community.
“As we have always kept the best interest and safety of the industry as our priority, it has become apparent in the face of these challenges that we can no longer effectively host NAB Show or our co-located events, the Radio Show and Sales and Management Television Exchange, in person.
“NAB Show is the premiere destination for the media and entertainment industry and we will not move forward with a show that delivers anything less than the excellence our community has come to expect and deserves from us.
“While we are disappointed that we will not be together again in person next month, we look forward to converging at the 2022 NAB Show, April 23-27, 2022, to reignite our passion for our business and focus on a bright future ahead.