ATLANTA — As the world begins to bounce back from the COVID lockdown, members of the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) will meet for an in-person event. The agenda at the annual SISO CEO Summit will feature top news of the day and how to carve a path forward. Canceled last year due to COVID, this year’s Summit will be held April 12-15 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. SISO is curating the content for the specific needs of independent show organizers.
Monday, April 12 highlights include the Small Business Roundtable, which will return for its fifth year, from 1 pm – 5 pm. The afternoon is geared toward C-level executives of companies with less than $10 million in annual revenues.
Some Program Highlights
Back again for its fourth year is the SISO Executive Women’s Forum, also from 1 pm – 5 pm on Monday, a half day of education and networking developed by the SISO Women Special Interest Group (SIG). This year’s Chair, Mary Larkin, President of Diversified Communications USA and the newly elected Secretary/Treasurer and Executive Committee member of SISO, said the focus of the program will be to “provide the opportunity for everyone to reflect on the past year and how to reorient yourself and your teams as we move toward a new normal.”
The main Summit kicks off on Tuesday, April 13 with a variety of speakers. Anirban Basu, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group, Inc., will present an economic overview including the performance of the financial, labor, real estate and construction markets. For the closing session on Innovation, George Blankenship will draw from his experience first as the architect of Apple Computer’s brand-building retail strategy, then revolutionizing the car-buying experience as an executive at Tesla Motors.
Safety Will Be Top of Mind
The last SISO CEO Summit was held in March of 2019 at the JW Marriott Turnberry. While that event attracted around 320 attendees, David Audrain, SISO Executive Director, said he expects “around half our usual attendance, primarily because most international attendees are still not able to travel into the USA due to travel bans still being in place.”
Audrain shared with Trade Show Executive the new safety procedures that will be in place for this year’s event. “The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island has given us 100% of their meeting space, and has excellent outdoor spaces for our use, which will enable us to provide an appropriately spaced out event space for the conference sessions,” he said. “We will be able to hold the meal and social functions outdoors overlooking the ocean, also well spaced out.”
Masks will be required of all participants. Audrain said they were still evaluating several sanitation and safety services/tools to try out at the event: “Everything is changing so rapidly that we are staying flexible and looking at all options, including testing prior to travel and on site.”
SISO has been far from passive over the course of the pandemic. The organization has actively supported its members through a series of virtual town halls and commissioned several joint white papers with UFI. With the help of its volunteer board, it has played a part in helping develop safety protocols and advocating for the industry as a member of the Go LIVE Together initiative.