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SISO Update


12 Mar 2021

SISO Update

As mid-March nears, it is hard to believe that it has been one year since the U.S. shutdown because of COVID-19. While the last year has been bleak in terms of live, in-person events, there is much to be hopeful for as we ramp up for the return of more trade shows in the second half of 2021. Vaccine distribution continues to rise, with more good news reported as U.S. President Joe Biden pledged to have all Americans vaccinated by the end of May. Later this month, Reed Exhibitions Americas will produce the Jewelers International Showcase (JIS). To be held March 22-24 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the event will be Reed's first in the U.S. since the pandemic. Stay tuned for a white paper from SISO and UFI on the event.


SISO Activities


The SISO CEO Summit will be held April 12-15 at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, FL. The venue is a perfect location for the Summit this year, as it has more than enough meeting space to facilitate our event in a well-spaced safe environment, with substantial outdoor space (and great weather) for the meals and social functions. Our event will be the only one on the property, and the hotel is giving us complete and exclusive use of the entire meeting space. The hotel is also less than 30 minutes from the Jacksonville, FL, airport with a wide range of flight destinations and many connections to Miami and Atlanta hub airports.

We have planned some great programming, including:

The Return of the Economist at 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 13 — Anirban Basu, Chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group, Inc., will provide insight and analysis on global, national, and regional economic performance using the most current data available. He will examine the performance of the financial, labor, real estate, and construction markets.

The Value of Diversity at 12 p.m.-1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 13 — Diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) is not just "the right thing to do," it is also good for your business. What does it take to initiate and execute an effective DEI strategy and plan? During this session moderated by Ron Walden, you will hear from an industry leader about their commitment to driving change through a robust DEI plan. You will meet a diverse group of vendors and learn about their personal experiences in and out of the trade show industry. Audience members will take away a fresh perspective on DEI and how to accelerate efforts towards your own DEI agendas.

The Future of Innovation at 11:10 a.m.-12 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 14 — What does it take to transform a company from a status quo market contender to a forward-thinking and dynamic player of the future? Industry leader and expert George Blankenship will look to the future and explore this question during an engaging and thought-provoking closing keynote. Widely recognized as the architect of Apple's brand-building retail strategy, Blankenship formulated and executed one of the most successful retail growth strategies in history by turning the classic engagement model on its head. Most recently, he revolutionized the auto industry by redefining the car-buying experience in his executive role at Tesla Motors. Bringing 30 years of industry experience and invigorating insight, Blankenship will explain how to build a brand based on the unique value that your company provides and how to market and attract new customers. SISO members will take away fresh, fascinating ideas and innovative tools for rethinking their role in a competitive environment.

View the full program schedule.

We will be implementing multiple safety protocols and processes, including:

  • Masks will be mandatory except when eating.
  • Social distancing and spaced seating will be implemented.
  • Advanced testing options will be recommended to all attendees prior to travel.
  • On-site rapid testing will be available to all participants.
  • All relevant local health department safety guidelines will be adhered to.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Anna Osnower at

Case Studies 

We encourage you to check out the recent SISO/UFI White Papers on how SISO members have successfully produced events during the pandemic. Since October, SISO has published four case studies for members to use as a playbook for how others are forging ahead during these uncertain times. Download the white papers.


Are Conventions Coming Back To Las Vegas? During an interview on KNPR, David Audrain, SISO Executive Director and CEO/Partner of Exposition Development Company, discussed how conventions and trade shows can be held safely. Audrain was joined on the radio program by other industry leaders, including Cathy Breden, EVP and COO, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, Sue Sung, Senior VP of Corporate Strategy for Freeman Co., and Tricia Barglof, Executive Director of OFFPRICE Trade Show. Listen to the broadcast or read the summary.

Panel Discussion

David Audrain, SISO Executive Director and CEO/Partner of Exposition Development Company, participated in a panel during Evolve 2.0, a digital event produced by Swapcard. Held on Thursday, February 25, the panel, titled “Exhibitions and Trade Shows: Three Leading Voices on How 2020 Affected Their Sector and How They Plan on Tackling 2021 and Beyond," also featured UFI Managing Director and CEO Kai Hattendorf and European Exhibition Industry Alliance Secretary General Barbara Weizsaecker. During the session moderated by Swapcard Head of Engagement Julius Solaris, the association leaders shared what happened to exhibitions in 2020 and what they are looking forward to in 2021. Trade Show Executive published a recap, From Bad to Better: Lessons Learned from the Pandemic.


On Wednesday, March 3, SISO participated in a 24-hour Vodcast Marathon. Produced by Dan Assor, the vodcast raised awareness and donations for EventWell, which provides vital, immediate support to any event professional experiencing personal and financial hardship and is open to anyone working in creative communications, experiential marketing, live and business events, exhibitions, hospitality, and travel in the U.K., U.S., and Canada, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. SISO Board Member David Adler moderated the SISO Hour at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 3. He discussed “The evolving world of virtual and hybrid events.” As of March 5, the event raised more than $15,000, and the donations are still coming in. You can still donate here.

Trade Show and Exhibitions Professional Dan Assor hosts topical discussions with event, exhibition, and business professionals on The Dan Assor Podcast, In Conversation With, which is sponsored by SISO. Members can subscribe to The Dan Assor Podcast from any of these channels: YouTubeFacebook, ?????LinkedinSpotifyApple, and Twitter.

All Secure Guidelines 2.0

In case you missed it, SISO published the updated All Secure Standard, a best-practice guide for industry colleagues who are responsible for organizing and delivering industry events, trade shows, and exhibitions of all sizes, in all locations. The new guidelines were published in January after much collaboration with key stakeholders, industry leaders, and health experts over the last several months. The guidelines in this document are based on information currently available regarding the behavior and characteristics of the Coronavirus, the status of testing capacity, where we are in terms of vaccine availability, and local or state guidelines with respect to large gatherings in any community.

Special Interest Groups

Small Business

The next SISO Small Business SIG will be held live and in-person from 1 p.m - 5 p.m. ET on Monday, April 12, at the SISO CEO Summit at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. Open to qualified members of the SISO Small Business SIG, the half-day event requires a separate registration to attend. The Small Business SIG will continue to hold monthly roundtable discussions online. Discussions take place at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesdays. Additional dates for May and beyond will be added soon. Email with any questions.


SISO partners with Virtual Events Institute to offer discounted training. VEI will provide a 50% discount to SISO members for its online education platform dealing with all aspects relating to the production, promotion, and monetization of online and hybrid events. To receive the special SISO discount for these online education sessions, please register using this link. For additional information, email Peter Orford.

Moving Forward Updates

With a third vaccination now available, the largest vaccination campaign in history is underway. As of March 9, 93.7 million doses have been administered in the U.S. and more than 319 million doses across 118 countries, according to Bloomberg. A second stimulus package has passed the Senate and the House of Representatives. As more convention centers across the U.S. become vaccination sites, we applaud the widespread distribution that will aid in making exhibitors and attendees feel more confident about travel and events. We are happy to share a few links of recent news and positive moves for our industry.

Coalition Updates

Go LIVE Together

You've likely heard how MAGIC Pop Up OrlandoWWIN Orlando Showcase, and OFFPRICE Orlando Market co-located in Orlando last month to provide a critical buying opportunity for the fashion industry. This showcase proved that, with strict enforcement of protocols, we can do business safely. These are the kinds of examples that help us make a strong case for reopening events across the nation, so please join us in highlighting this success story by sharing our new video.

Events Industry Council

The latest guide from the APEX COVID-19 Business Recovery Task Force examines the current state of trade shows and exhibitions and includes risk management tools for each phase for recovery. The Resources for B2B and B2C Exhibitions Guide provides safety and security best practices that are being instituted as in-person exhibitions return. View the most up-to-date version of guide.

Meetings Mean Business Coalition

Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) is planning for Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID), which is set to take place Thursday, April 8. Showcasing our industry's value has never been more important – particularly at the state and local levels. Read the 



  • “Without a doubt the most valuable three days of the year for networking, learning, and meeting colleagues.”
    Tony Calanca, Calanca & Associates LLC
  • “Two of the best acquisitions Access Intelligence had executed came directly from contacts and discussions held at the SISO CEO Summit. Beyond that important networking for transactions, I learn best practices from the best in the industry. The ROI for membership is immeasurable.”
    Don Pazour, CEO, Access Intelligence
  • “The impact of SISO is so much bigger than its size. It feels more like a global council of important tribes than a traditional trade association.”
    David Adler, CEO & Founder, Bizbash Media
  • “Our industry thrives on the personal relationships that face-to-face builds, and the CEO Summit is the ultimate place to build YOUR network!”
    Tom Mitchell, President, Messe Dusseldorf North America
  • “As busy, independent, for-profit organizer, SISO keeps our company connected to all the key players working in this industry and allows great relationships and ongoing learning of best practices from the best in the business. All invaluable assets to help move our business forward."
    Howard Hauben, CEO, H2 Events
  • “The SISO membership represents the entire for-profit tradeshow community and the annual SISO conferences are must-attend events for their educational and networking value.”
    Joel A. Davis, Founder & CEO, JD Events
  • Being a member of SISO has allowed me to navigate the dynamic landscape of our industry in the most effective way possible. Personally, it’s been a journey of continuous learning, networking, and collaboration that fosters deep relationships with industry leaders. Professionally, the insights I’ve gained, the resources I have accessed, and the collaborative initiatives and advocacy work have helped to take my organization to new heights. SISO, to me, is an indispensable asset for my career and business.
    Liz Irving, President, Clarion Events