WARWICK, N.Y. — The numbers are staggering. Since the beginning of March 2020 and through the end of the year, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in $492 billion in cumulative losses for the U.S. travel economy, equating to a daily loss of approximately $1.6 billion.
The virus has brought trade shows to a screeching halt and with it the loss of livelihoods for many.
Last March, in an effort to make sense of the chaos, Martha Donato, Founder and President of MAD Event Management, an event planning and management company, and her partner Marty Glynn, CEO, started weekly calls with industry friends from distinct sectors in different parts of the country.
The calls have grown exponentially, and the group even had an in-person gathering in October where 31 trade show and conference professionals gathered at the Mandalay Bay Resort for a meeting they christened as “Expo Recovery.” The group discussed the importance of health and safety at trade shows and experimented with some of the latest contact-tracing and hygiene technologies available.
The result? An effort dubbed the Las Vegas Live Events Industry Food Drive, which is being held Saturday, February 13, 2021, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Related. Gathering in a COVID World
How It Began
During one of these calls, Tom Mitchell, President, Messe Dusseldorf North America, shared with the group his organization’s charitable endeavors.
“That inspired us to spearhead an initiative focused on helping people out of work in our industry,” Donato said. “We collected quite a bit of money but there weren’t any charitable organizations specific to trade shows and events. That is what led us down this path.”
Workers in the trade show industry have fared worse than most during the pandemic, with Las Vegas especially hard hit.
With this in mind, Donato and Glynn reached out to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, who put them in touch with Three Square, Southern Nevada’s only food bank and the area’s largest hunger-relief organization, which is lending support on the ground.
Canned goods and nonperishable food items will be available for pickup in a warehouse that Freeman is donating for the food drive.
“It truly is a collaborative effort. There are so many who are helping,” Donato said.
“Giving people food for a week or two is just a start,” she said of the food drive. “We will do this to the best of our ability, as well as raise awareness about the tens of thousands of people in our industry who are out of work. Las Vegas is really suffering, but it’s not the only city. We hope to get some groundswell movements in other cities as well,” Donato said.
“This isn’t political. Our industry is consistently left out of messaging on the political front and this has to be rectified. When you shut down convention centers and repurpose them as hospitals and vaccination centers, you are shutting down a billion-dollar industry and all the people who work in it.”
If you are a member of the industry and would like to reserve a spot for curbside pick-up, register at https://www.123signup.com/register?id=kxtdh.
If you would like to make a donation to be used to purchase additional food items, go to https://elvc.123signup.com/event/registration/kxtnh. The Experiential Designers and Producers Association (EDPA), a national trade show association and a supporter of the food drive, is a 501(c)(3) organization, and donations are eligible for charitable deductions.