Perspectives: We're All In This Together


As this issue goes to press in mid-March, there’s only one thing on everyone’s mind: coronavirus. 

I hesitated to write about it in print because the impact is escalating daily, but how could I not write about it? 

At PPAI, the health and safety of our members and staff are our top priorities, and we’re continuing to monitor the situation and work to bring members the latest news on this issue as it affects events, the supply chain, the economy and, most importantly, people’s lives. 

In early March, PPAI released a letter to members from PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, outlining the steps your Association is taking to stay on top of this fast-moving situation and to help keep members up to date. At this point in time, PPAI is planning to move forward with all scheduled events and programs. If that changes, we will quickly inform members through email, web, social media, Promo Connect and all other available channels. 

We’ve also put together an information resource page with links to the latest reports on the virus and to resources to keep you up to date, and we are continually adding to those resources. Find it at www.ppai.org/coronavirus-information.

The virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China in late December, quickly spread throughout the country, across Asia and Europe to the U.S. Where it will spread next and how long it will last is anyone’s guess. While scientists are learning more about this easily transmitted disease and researchers across the world are working quickly to develop a vaccine, the public is reminded to wash their hands frequently, stay home if they are sick and to avoid crowds, especially if they are older or have compromised immune systems. This is all good, common-sense advice but hard to do if your business involves face-to-face trade shows, conferences and client visits. 

As of this writing, the number of active cases of coronavirus in China has decreased dramatically, offering a ray of brightness in this storm. The number of people who have contracted coronavirus is staggering and knowing thousands have died is heartbreaking, but hearing that tens of thousands of people have recovered from it is encouraging. 

What’s especially hard is not knowing how long this outbreak will last, who it will affect and what impact it will have on our economy when it’s all over. 

A report by McKinsey & Company shows several scenarios for the economic impact we could expect. If the virus is found to be seasonal, like the flu, and people change some habits, but most economic activity persists, the economy could be on the rebound by end of this month, the report says. In a second scenario, if fatality rates are higher than the flu and people shift their daily behaviors greatly, certain sectors, such as aviation and hospitality, will be deeply affected. Other sectors would see a sharp initial drop but recover by mid-year. However, in the worst scenario, coronavirus causes a global pandemic and recession where economic recovery extends through Q3 or beyond. 

It’s in the report’s second model, the global slowdown, where the report suggests small- and mid-size companies would be most affected, and service sectors, such as aviation, travel and tourism, are expected to be the hardest hit—especially if they miss out on the peak summer travel season. This scenario reflects the effect of a greater shift in people’s daily behaviors, which could pull the economy into a slowdown but not cause a recession.

Uncertainty is one thing, but fear is a far more powerful force. Be cautious but be calm.

Sending you my best wishes for a quick end to this outbreak and good health for you, your family and your business. 

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Tina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB and PPAI's director of publications.

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