Comment – The show must go on…?

COVID-19 fallout hits industry exhibitions.

The ConExpo 2020 exhibition in Las Vegas last week was shortened by a day amidst fears over the Coronavirus pandemic. News has reached us this morning that the ScotPlant exhibition in Scotland has been postponed along with the Glastonbury music festival that was scheduled to take place in June to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Although there has been – so far – no comment from the organisers, this must surely raise doubts over the Hillhead exhibition that is currently scheduled to take place in Buxton, Derbyshire in June this year.

If the Hillhead show IS postponed, it will be sad on a number of levels. First of all, this is a show that – in recent years – has embraced the demolition and recycling sector. It is a show in which it is still possible to see some truly big equipment in action. And, unlike bigger international shows such as Bauma, it is still possible to see all of the Hillhead show in a single day. For these and so many other seasons, Hillhead has a special place in my heart.

However, it is impossible to ignore the potential implications of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Indeed, even if the organisers decide to press ahead with the show, it is likely that they will see a number of exhibitors pulling out.

It is easy to say that the show could be pushed back by a year, much like the Glastonbury festival.
But it is not that simple. 2021 is already earmarked as a PlantworX year, and equipment manufacturers and dealers’ marketing budgets can only stretch so far. Besides, two shows in a year risks “exhibition fatigue” among even the most committed and eager show attendees.

Should Hillhead skip 2021 in the hope of getting back on an every-other-year rotation whilst avoiding clashes with PlantworX, it will find itself competing for attention (and marketing spend) with the behemoth that is Bauma.

I sincerely hope that Hillhead can go ahead as planned and that exhibitors and visitors are able to give it the support this well-established exhibition so richly deserves.

But as it stands today, that is looking increasingly unlikely.