For Rob Connelly, the last Friday in July was like none other in his illustrious management career. He could see the news about spikes from the Delta variant. As president of the nation’s food equipment manufacturers trade association with a major trade show set for the end of August, Connelly was on the hot seat.
So NAFEM’s president took to the phones through that weekend with a goal of having the needed info to make a really tough decision. Based on that input from many of the nation’s dealers and consultants and with the guidance of NAFEM Executive Director Dierdre Flynn and her staff, the decision was made to cancel the NAFEM Show 2021 event.
NAFEM has recently announced that the NAFEM Show 2021 has been canceled due a surge in the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the Orlando, Florida area, where the show was set to be held. The NAFEM Show, a trade show for foodservice equipment manufacturers, was originally scheduled for February of 2021 before the show’s organizers rescheduled the trade show to occur beginning August 26th and running through August 28th, before it was ultimately canceled.
“It was extremely disappointing and extremely challenging to cancel the show,” said Connelly. “The ultimate challenge was that we needed to avoid a failed show, and a failed show was worse than a canceled show. What we originally hoped for when planning our 2021 show was that it would be at a time when the industry was starting to come back and that the show would be a great opportunity for everyone to reconnect and see each other again. Unfortunately, at this time we had to make a difficult decision, but it is one that we are comfortable with. As an association we did not feel that it was responsible to amass such a large crowd indoors nor did we feel that we could provide an adequate showcase if we had a limited number of attendees.”
The showcase was set to consist of more than 400 different exhibitors and bring nearly 10,000 visitors to the Orlando area. “At the end of the day we need to make sure that we provide an experience that ensures the integrity of the NAFEM Show, while also making sure that there are enough attendees and volume to make it worthwhile for all participants,” said Connelly. “Two of the reasons as to why we decided to cancel the show was that we started to see some fall out in attendees. We then made some calls to larger attendees to try and get a feel for their attendance and saw that it was questionable. Additionally, we had a responsibility to our exhibitors, the ones who had a greater investment in the show, to make sure that there were enough attendees to make it worthwhile for them. In the end we no longer felt comfortable that there would be enough attendees to make it a successful show and that by canceling the show we could save our exhibitors some money.”
The NAFEM Show which occurs biennially is set to return to the Orange County Convention Center in 2023. “We value our longstanding relationship with NAFEM. We understand the unique circumstances facing The NAFEM Show and look forward to their return to the Orange County Convention Center in 2023,” said convention center executive director Mark Tester. “We remain committed to the safety of our employees, clients, attendees and exhibitors and continue to adhere to the CDC’s guidelines and our comprehensive health and safety protocols in our Recovery and Resiliency Guidelines.”
NAFEM will refund registration fees by Sept. 3. The next show is scheduled for Feb 1-3, 2023, in Orlando. To contact NAFEM, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The NAFEM Show is brought to you by the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM), a trade association of more than 600+ foodservice equipment and supplies (E&S) manufacturers – a $13 billion industry – providing products for food preparation, cooking, storage and table service. Founded in 1948, NAFEM businesses, their employees and the products they manufacture, support the food away from home market – which includes more than one million locations in the U.S. and countless more around the world.