The effects of the coronavirus in Las Vegas are starting to be seen more and more in recent weeks. With several of the Strip’s buffets temporarily closing, to industry workers being fearful of job security, as COVID-19 continues to expand, it continues to make its mark on the city.
Those who work for major conventions in Las Vegas are particularly feeling the impact.
Jesse Jenkins, an audio and video engineer in Las Vegas that sets up displays for big conventions, says work in the valley hasn’t been this scarce since the Great Recession.
Jenkins, who finishes up his work at the ConExpo-Con/Ag construction equipment show on March 17, which is being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, says he has no further work to take on after his current job ends.
This is unusual for Jenkins, who says he is used to having work scheduled up to six weeks in advance.
And he’s not the only one. He’s noticed other convention workers in the field struggle to find work amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
As the coronavirus continues to grow, and the cases of those affected in Clark County go up (there are now four confirmed cases in the valley) more conventions are either canceling or postponing their scheduled events.
“Our work is looking pretty bleak the next two months,” Jenkins emphasized. “It’s scary.”
IATSE Local 720 Takes a Hit
IATSE Local 720 is the 1,700-member union who performs various behind-the-scenes work at various trade shows in Las Vegas. Their important work includes managing audio and visual effects, putting up monitors, LED walls, and whatever else is needed for the shows to run without a hitch.
Jenkins said the union started feeling the effects of the coronavirus impact about two weeks ago.
This dip in steady work comes from conventions pulling or altering plans, but not only that, for conventions that are still scheduled to take place, such as ConExpo, many exhibitors are abandoning ship.
When exhibitors pull out the last minute, it leaves a lot of the on-call union members with days without work.
“We’ve had 100-by-100-foot booths load in the show and then decide to cancel and leave,” Jenkins said. “The next couple of months, my membership will be hurting.”
Recent Convention Cancellations and Changes
National Association of Broadcasters 2020 trade show, Las Vegas Convention Center April 18 – 22 – The software firm, Adobe, joined five others who recently backed out of the upcoming trade show. The show is still scheduled to take place until further notice.
IWCE (International Wireless Communications Expo) 2020, scheduled to take place March 30-April 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center – CURRENTLY POSTPONED.
SuiteWorld20, now scheduled to take place August 10 – 13 at The Venetian Resort and the Sands Expo Convention Center – Oracle NetSuite postponed the conference four months past their original planned date, which was April 20 – 23.
2020 Veterans Stand Down, scheduled to take place March 25 – CURRENTLY POSTPONED.
Channel Partners Conference & Expo, TBD, at The Venetian and Sands Expo – According to a recent statement made on Sunday, the event has been postponed “with the intention to announce a new date shortly.” It was originally scheduled to take place March 9- 12.
NXT Global Summit, the inaugural conference featuring the latest trends in technology and media, has been officially canceled. It planned to be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on July 14-15.
Aruba Networks, an engineering company that planned to host an upcoming conference on March 23-27, has swapped its in-person event over to a digital, video event. According to the show’s website, their conference will be done via video, streaming and smaller local events “rather than an in-person event in Las Vegas.”
Atlassian Summit 2020 has also turned their in-person conference, scheduled to start March 31, into a remote event that will take place April 1-2.
Entire Industry is Hurting in Las Vegas
Noelle Haddad-McCann, president of TNG Models, a local modeling and talent agency that books models for a variety of shoots, events, and trade shows in the valley, says they’ve also been feeling the impact from the outbreak.
They’ve lost three bookings for events in the past week, and continue to see jobs being canceled.
The agency, who can get up to 15 inquiries on a typical Monday morning, says phone calls have slowed down this week.
“It seems like everything is just on pause,” Haddad-McCann said. “Companies are hesitant to contract new deals because nobody knows how this virus will affect our city over the next 4-12 weeks. … We’ve already seen a large decrease in new booking inquiries over the last week. It feels like nobody’s coming to Vegas.”
On-site massage service providers are also being affected since their business involved skin-on-skin contact. Las Vegas-based Professional Massage Inc. says March is typically their busiest time of the year, but that hasn’t been the case.
The company president, Tori Sadiki, says the massage therapists are noticing the dip in business.
“We’ve seen a small decrease over what we’d typically have this time a year,” Sadiki said. “It’s hard to tell because it’s a busy time for us anyway.” “We’re trying to be positive,” Sadiki continued. “It’s one of the busiest months for the city, so we’re hoping that carries us through.”
While industry professionals generally don’t expect that business will be impacted very long, convention members and other affected industry members are being encouraged to save in the meantime to help navigate current losses amid the current coronavirus scare.