At the TFWA trade show.

PARIS — Organizers of travel retail’s premier trade show, the TFWA World Exhibition and Conference in Cannes, France, have revealed changes to the upcoming session in a pitch to make it more accessible to attendees and exhibitors operating in a channel hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

For the event scheduled to run between Sept. 28 and Oct. 2, TFWA president Alain Maingreaud outlined some new elements during a recent call with journalists. These included decreasing exhibitors’ per-square-meter rental charge by 30 percent, waiving registration fees for all trade delegates and reducing hotel rates in Cannes.

“Given this exceptional situation, and knowing that 2020 will be a very tough year for all our members and partners, it was obvious that the show couldn’t go ahead in its usual format and that priorities have changed,” said Maingreaud.

Changes to the format stem from various objectives for the channel that ground to a halt due to COVID-19. Travel retail is a huge business, generating about $87 billion in 2019, according to Generation Research.

“The first one is to ensure the event can go ahead despite the exceptionally difficult circumstances, of course, assuming that the health situation permits this,” said Maingreaud.

Limiting costs for exhibitors is also key, as is encouraging a maximum attendee level. (Last year’s session, held between Sept. 29 and Oct. 4, registered a record number of visitors: 7,531 people, representing a 7 percent increase versus 2018.)

“The last objective is to focus the event’s agenda on business-oriented activities,” said Maingreaud, who added, for instance, all leisure and social activities traditionally held on the Sunday would be canceled and the trade show would officially begin on the Monday.

The innovation lab, aka the i.Lab, is to be moved into the main venue, the Palais des Festivals.

Maingreaud said TFWA is working closely with the city of Cannes to ensure attendee safety.

“The city has adopted a number of preventative measures, and that’s limiting the risk of spreading the virus,” he continued. “These include additional cleaning, a comprehensive disinfection program, additional medical staff and [more].”

Since April, Cannes has been providing masks to its denizens, who must wear them when outside.

Although postponing the event might be difficult, due to scheduling constraints, canceling is not an impossibility.

“We will adapt to the situation,” said Maingreaud, reiterating: “The show will go ahead only if the sanitary situation allows.”

He explained market conditions might also dictate whether TFWA moves forward, but that currently the number of cancellations to the fall session has not been significantly greater than last year at the same time.

Maingreaud said that although TFWA owns the event, “it belongs in some ways to the entire industry, and this is why we are determined to do everything in our power to enable it to take place.”

He said the TFWA show in Cannes is not only where business is transacted, but also where friendships are made.

“That spirit is more important than ever this year,” continued Maingreaud. “We are not underestimating the challenges ahead of us, but we would not be fulfilling our mission if we did not make every effort to make Cannes happen.”

A number of beauty-related trade shows have been postponed or canceled due to COVID-19. On Tuesday, for instance, Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna said its 53rd edition, already moved from March to September, will be held in 2021 instead. This year a digital format will be presented from June 4 to 10.

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