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Scaremongering or safety first? How Coronavirus is affecting Events and Tech

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Amidst the uncertainty surrounding Coronavirus, companies are taking no chances when it comes to the health and safety of the public and their employees, cancelling major events to quell the spread.

Suspension of travel and closure of ports is also creating severe disruption to global tech manufacturing and supply chains. Feeling the ripple effect of the outbreak – even in our internal projects – it has left us wondering: What is the impact of Coronavirus on events and tech industries worldwide?

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Coronavirus And Events

At the source of the outbreak, the impact was felt immediately. Celebrations around Chinese New Year were cancelled in major cities, Chinese stocks plummeted with the worst end to a Lunar Year on record, and even in the UK, Chinese businesses in London’s China Town were reported to have seen a  50% drop in trade.

Fear of spread and travel bans are having major implications for international events, especially those that have close business connections with China.

Just last week Mobile World Congress decided to cancel their 100,000-attendee conference in Barcelona after major contributors including EE, Facebook and Nokia pulled out. According to The Verge, the global event that attracts attendees from over 200 countries was set to feature an ‘even larger Chinese contingent than ever before, with all of the country’s major smartphone brands having a presence.’

A big blow for Barcelona, it’s reported by the FT that MWC generates an estimate of ‘€492m for the city, and creates about 14,000 temporary jobs.’ all of which will be lost now that the event is no longer going ahead.

Cause For Concern

MWC isn’t the only event to suffer. Cisco Live and Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit, both set to take place at the beginning of March, have also been axed. These cancellations have left many other event organisers on edge. With a flow of statements appearing across websites and social channels. SXSW, held annually in Texas, and Cannes, arguably the biggest ad industry event in the calendar, have both made official comments. Whilst both events are proceeding as planned they informed attendees that they are closely monitoring the situation.

Commitment Issues

For delegates and exhibitors, however, there have been reports of people holding back from booking spaces for fear of cancellations. Keeping in mind that insurance policies will not cover MWC losses, it’s no surprise that people are becoming hesitant to invest in stands and tickets at this point.

If MWC, Cisco and Facebook’s decisions are anything to go by, we predict that we’ll continue to see event organisers take strong precautions – no matter the cost – to protect against the outbreak.

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Coronavirus And Tech

Whilst Coronavirus has had an obvious and immediate impact on events, the long-term damage is yet to be seen. Depending on how fast it continues to spread, the global tech supply chain could also take a huge hit. Delays in manufacturing might lead to product shortages further down the line.

Apple, the tech giants who rely heavily on China for parts, is just one of the companies that are likely to see product delays. The Economist reports that ‘the virus could lead to Apple shipping 5-10% fewer iPhones this quarter and could scupper its plans to ramp up production of its popular AirPods.’ Comparably, Huawei is also likely to struggle since China accounts for over 60% of its total smartphone sales. 

The Ripple Effect

Although the outbreak is still regional, the repercussions are global. From mobiles to televisions, a great deal of the world’s consumer technology is either made in China, or relies on parts made there. The continued delays and reduction in production has the potential to cost the world’s economy a great deal.

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