March 25, 2020

Freeman has weathered many challenges in its 93-year history, but none have posed the same devastating potential to our industry as the spread of COVID-19. The events industry can survive this, but to do so, we must speak with a united voice to drive awareness of the significant impacts we’ve all experienced.

Leveraging the comprehensive research completed by USTA and working with our partners at CEIR, Freeman estimates the cessation of business events due to quarantines and other mitigation remedies related to COVID-19 will directly cost our industry $118 billion and over one million jobs. I expect you are all experiencing firsthand the impacts this loss is having on an industry that was on track to generate almost $1 trillion for the U.S. economy and close to 6 million jobs.

As Congress debates the current stimulus package, we must advocate loudly and strongly for the millions of workers and tens of thousands of businesses that design and produce business events. We have suffered as much as the airlines and hotels from the almost overnight shutdown of travel and tourism in the U.S. But because much of our work is in advance, behind the scenes, and conducted through labor and small business, it is easy to overlook our industry. Together, we must make sure this doesn’t happen.

The impacts go well beyond our industry directly. The events ecosystem we’ve nurtured helps incubate and promote millions of businesses, most of them small, who rely on our events to achieve their own goals. Eighty percent of corporate marketers say that events are critical to their business’ success. Events remain a critical component in the marketing mix—nothing can replace the power of face-to-face. For many exhibitors, these events represent the bulk of their marketing expense and sales for the year. The impacts of the shutdown cannot be overstated.

Freeman has engaged lobbyists and a public affairs specialist to craft a proactive media campaign to drive public awareness and sympathy for the plight of the workers in our industry and ensure maximum exposure and pressure on federal, state, and municipal officials as they consider funding measures in the coming days and weeks. But we are only one voice. We need to combine our efforts if we have any hope of calling attention to the impacts on our industry.

Our ask of you:

  • Freeman has drafted a letter that we have sent to various Congressional and federal leaders, which outlines our policy requests for industry protection. We encourage you all to do the same and have attached a template that may help facilitate your outreach. 
  • Engage your association members in similar Congressional outreach campaigns. Most businesses in the event space are small, private companies directly reliant on labor to generate revenues. Financial support for our industry goes where it is needed most, to labor and small business owners, and we must reiterate this to Congress and all federal leaders.
  • Through all available channels, please reinforce the impacts COVID-19 is having on the business events industry. We have created an infographic that may be helpful. We need to draw as much attention as possible to the negative impacts this is having on our industry.
  • Please include our public affairs specialists ( in all of your outreach so we can ensure that our media and legislative efforts are aligned. Further, to help us identify opportunities for further collaboration, especially at the state and local levels. 

We are living through unprecedented times, but we are nonetheless confident that together we will weather the storm and that our industry will emerge all the stronger after it.