The Auto Body Association of Texas (ABAT) recently announced the cancellation of its 2020 Texas Auto Body Trade Show, as a result of travel restrictions and general unease related to COVID-19.
“The decision to cancel this year’s trade show was mostly based on travel restrictions, since many of our exhibitors come from out of state and are unable to travel right now," said Jill Tuggle, executive director of ABAT. "Texas has also had a rise in COVID cases, so this made things even more difficult. In consideration of those difficulties, we did not feel that we could host a successful trade show.”
“This was a difficult decision to make," ABAT President Burl Richards added. "We waited it out until the bitter end, holding onto hope that we could make it work, but with all factors considered, this is what’s best for everyone.”
The 2020 Texas Auto Body Trade Show was scheduled for Sept. 18-19 in Irving, TX, but due to an increase in reported cases of COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott mandated face coverings and restricted indoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, with some exceptions. As of July 20, Texas has reported more than 338,000 cases of the novel coronavirus.
In order to gauge the comfort level with a physical event, ABAT surveyed attendees and exhibitors, finding “the response was split down the middle,” according to Tuggle.
“Many Texans are ready to venture out with proper precautions taken, but about 50% of the vendors were either unable to attend or didn’t feel comfortable attending," Tuggle said. "The vendors who were uncomfortable attending were mostly from out of state, and with vendors also under tight budgets and corporate travel restrictions, a successful show is not possible this year.”
Although ABAT “extensively explored virtual options” for transitioning the trade show, “we weren’t going to go virtual unless we could do it right,” Tuggle said.
“Unfortunately, going virtual at the scale we wanted was just too expensive, given the circumstances, but everyone was very understanding; since we were among the last to cancel, most of the shock over event cancellations had worn off," Tuggle said. "The Texas Auto Body Trade Show is ABAT’s biggest fund raiser each year, and without it, we will have to work very hard to supplement those lost funds. Still, we felt that pouring our efforts into some regional fundraisers and a few educational meetings would be better for the association and its members.”
ABAT will begin with a virtual training session at 1 p.m. CT July 22, focused on the financial aspect of operating a collision repair business. Registration is available here.