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Crain’s New York Business
Cara Eisenpress, 8.10.21


Less than a week after the New York International Auto Show canceled its comeback event, citing pandemic safety concerns, the venue where it was supposed to be held, the Javits Center, opened its doors to exhibitors and buyers at two trade expos.

Trade shows are business-to-business events, and the need for businesses to do deals is so far keeping the shows on the calendar, even as consumer-focused conferences cancel or postpone fall dates.

Booths were humming with activity at NY Now, where retail buyers scout products beauty products, toys and more. The show began on Sunday and lasts through Wednesday.

“Business is being done,” said Hervé Sedky, president and CEO of Emerald, the largest U.S. events organizer. Emerald is behind NY Now and the East Coast Fine Jewelry Trade Show, the other event at Javits this week. The shows are roughly half the size they were in previous years, but the ratio of buyers to exhibitors is healthy, allowing deals to be made and relationships to be fostered, Sedky said.

In good times, the auto show attracted close to a million visitors and had a $300 million economic impact, partly by putting 2,400 New Yorkers to work. Most visitors came from within driving distance, said Mark Schienberg, the show’s president.

When organizers called it off, they set off a chain of events that led to hotel cancellations, worried calls from other shows and disappointment among small-business owners in the area who usually bask in the crowds the event brings.

There was a big bump in cancellations at the Gansevoort hotel, co-owner Michael Achenbaum said.

“It didn’t kill me,” Achenbaum said, “but it’s the sense of foreboding.”

Alan Steel, president and CEO of the Javits Center, said the cancellation was a surprise, but it has not deterred scheduled business-to-business meetings for the fall. The venue has 40 events booked until the end of the year, he said, “demonstrating a strong desire for people to meet face-to-face, connect with clients and celebrate in a safe and controlled environment.”

That includes the Armory Show on Sept. 9, the SALT conference on Sept. 13 and the New York Building Congress’ Centennial Ball in November.

One of the only other fully consumer-facing events at Javits, Comic Con, is still on for October, but the conference’s website said it is waiting on clear vaccine mandate information and will update its site once the city provides it Aug. 16.

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Aug 10, 2021 by New York Building Congress