Attendance and participation at the upcoming Vision Expo East will be lighter than usual. The show, planned from June 2 to 5 in Orlando, Fla. — a location chosen by the Vision Council for its relaxed restrictions around large gatherings — will not include some of eyewear’s biggest players.
Both Marchon and Safilo have declined participation in the annual event, which usually takes place each March at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. Other major players including Luxottica and Marcolin are currently question marks — both say that they are still reviewing whether to participate.
“The show is planned at the beginning of June, and as an organization we are still putting health and safety first. We are still taking a work-from-home approach and statistically don’t feel comfortable. Vision Expo East is a big event; you have a lot of people traveling and it still feels too early to ask employees to travel. I think our reaction is not so unique; we are perfectly aware of the safety protocols that the Vision Council has put in place,” Marchon president Nicola Zotta said about his decision for the company to sit out the event. The company is planning a number of digital initiatives to carry on commercial activity without the trade show.
Safilo North America president and chief commercial officer Steve Wright added of his own decision: “Safilo is a great supporter of the Vision Expo shows and it was an agonizing decision for us not to attend the upcoming event in Orlando. However, the timing didn’t align with our first-half corporate initiatives so we decided it was best just to go all-in at Vision Expo West.”
Upon revealing Vision Expo East’s new Florida dates and location, the Vision Council said it was working with local authorities to ensure a safe and sanitized commercial environment. The group maintains that masks and social distancing will be required of all attendees.
Remarking on this show’s lower rate of attendance, Ashley Mills, chief executive officer of the Vision Council, which co-operates Vision Expo East, said in a statement: “It is our mission and responsibility to the vision care community to provide a platform to effectively show products and conduct business. We’re looking forward to hosting a vibrant, safe show in Orlando this June. While we know it may not be possible for all of our usual attendees and exhibitors to join us due to international travel restrictions and corporate travel bans lasting into mid-summer, we are energized and heartened by the response we’ve already received from our exhibitors.
“Just two weeks after announcing the new host site, more than half of our exhibitors recommitted, with more committing to the show every day since — a testament to the demand for this event. We are opening registration for attendees next week and we look forward to welcoming a set of new attendees and longstanding attendees alike in June.”