Business News

Events Cancel as Hurricane Ian Intensifies

Skift Take

A slew of meetings and conventions planned for Florida this week had to cancel as Hurricane Ian barrels toward the state. 

Hurricane Ian is intensifying as it heads toward the United States. As a result, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the entire state, leading to hundreds of events canceling. In addition, cruise lines are rerouting ships, ports are closing, and federal aviation officials say there will be a slew of flight disruptions over the coming days. 

According to industry experts, the force majeure clause found in most meeting contracts will protect from liability. Hurricanes are considered a typical force majeure event and savvy planners have detailed disaster preparedness plans in place.

Major Cancellations

DevOps World 2022, the largest global gathering of DevOps practitioners, was returning to an in-person format for the first time since the pandemic. Disappointing for all involved, the gathering was canceled just a day before it was set to kick off on September 28. Thousands were expected, and many were already onsite at the World Marriott Center getting ready. The conference will switch to a virtual format, and details regarding dates and logistics will be released in the coming weeks. 

“The DevOps World team has been closely following the state, local, and federal guidance on Tropical Storm Ian. The safety of all attendees is our primary consideration. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to postpone this week’s onsite event,” its organizers wrote on the event’s webpage. 

The Florida Association for Healthcare Resources & Materials Management (AHRMM) also postponed its conference and said it hopes to reschedule sometime this year. “We advise you to cancel any travel plans for the conference and prepare for the storm as needed. We will be in touch on details related to refunds and/or credits for a future conference,” its website declared 

Another major cancellation was IBEX, the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference, North America’s largest technical trade event for marine industry professionals. Owned and produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and RAI Amsterdam, IBEX was set to open on Tuesday, September 27, at the Tampa Convention Center. 

The IBEX Show website shared, “It is clear that it is neither safe nor advisable to ask our exhibitors, staff, and visitors to travel to, or be in, Tampa, Florida this week.” This is devastating news as many companies have been preparing to launch new products at this show all year.

This isn’t the first hurricane to impact a marine show this year. Due to the possible threat of Hurricane Irma, the Tampa Boat Show on September 8-10 was canceled and rescheduled for October 13-15.

Rescheduling and Refunds

The Electro-Mechanical Authority Southeastern Chapter (EASA) fall conference scheduled for Daytona Beach from September 29 to October 1 was also canceled. Its website states, “As Hurricane Ian has continued to develop throughout the day and threaten the entire panhandle of Florida, it is in everyone’s best interest that we sadly reschedule the 2022 EASA SE Fall Conference.” Registration and exhibitor fees will remain in place, and once a rescheduled date is selected, there is the option to roll over these fees to the new date or cancel and receive a refund. 

EASA also states that the hotel will cancel all reservations within the room block with no cancellation fees. Crystal Bristow, executive vice president at Jenkins Electric, is the event chair of the EASA southeastern chapter. “We were expecting approximately 160 people for technical and managerial training and an exhibit hall with 38 vendors. We started watching the storm Friday and held a board meeting today to make a final decision around 3:30 p.m. The hotel has been very accommodating and cooperative with our cancellation and reschedule,” said Bristow. The EASA website states, “The entire team worked tirelessly over the past year to put together a robust, educational, fun-filled event the chapter can be proud of, but Hurricane Ian had other plans. We will direct our positive momentum into the reschedule plan and provide details as soon as they are available.” 

Political Rallies Also Impacted

Amongst the many cancellations, several campaign-related events have also been scrapped. They include one in which President Joe Biden was to appear at a Democratic National Committee event in Orlando on Tuesday with Democrat Charlie Crist, a former congressman, and gubernatorial candidate.

Crist also canceled a rally in Fort Lauderdale with the group Faith in Florida Action Fund on Monday evening when he’d been scheduled to appear alongside Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who is running for the US Senate. In addition, Sen. Marco Rubio, Demings’ GOP opponent in the Senate race, postponed a campaign event set to occur this week in rural Homestead, Florida, because of the impending hurricane.

More Than Just the Wind 

It is predicted that Hurricane Ian will become a Category 4 storm as early as Tuesday and into Wednesday. The designation means the hurricane is expected to reach between 130 and 156 mph, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned in a press conference that Ian would be 500 miles wide.

The Atlantic hurricane season, which had a quiet start, is picking up with Danielle and Earl forming within a day of each other in early September and Ian being the ninth named storm of the season. 

“What has folks here so nervous is what transpired with Charley as it took a sharp right hook into the state coming ashore near the Fort Myers/Naples area, decimating so much property in the path with massive flood damage,” said Gloria Nelson, CSEP, VEMM, special events concierge at Members, Inc., a full-service association and event management services company based in Florida.

Members, Inc. arranged for Nelson to move to a hotel near Walt Disney World with a generator. “If they lose power, it will come back way faster than me at home, and I’ll be much safer,” said Nelson.