Exhibition association leaders IAEM, CEIR, and SISO outlined their position on the importance of pulling together after the September 11 tragedy in a joint letter.

"First and foremost, we must present the fact that most events will go on as scheduled," the letter says. "This must be the message that we deliver to the media, our exhibitors and our visitors. Our message must be loud and clear and it must be delivered now. Dwelling on events that have been canceled distorts reality."

The letter suggests several positive messages exhibition managers can pass along to the media and to their customers. Because exhibitions and other face-to-face events encourage business and bolster the economy, the industry associations urge organizers to follow President Bush’s advice to get back to business and by so doing, help the economy get back to business as well.

While the letter acknowledges cancellations in the two weeks following the tragedy, it says that many of these events have been or will be rescheduled. "Live marketing events are continuing as planned because they represent a crucially important way for America to get back to work and for our people to reconnect to each other."

The letter also applauds shows that are continuing their plans to go on the first week of October, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, The Motivation Show, The National Association of Convenience Stores, The Society of Petroleum Engineers, and the American College of Surgeons.

It goes on to outline the importance of exhibitions, including the fact from CEIR Researach POE II-2000 that shows exhibitions being used more in the selling process (90 percent) than any other marketing technique. "Smaller companies rely on exhibitions for their very survival. Without the event, they not only cannot grow, they may not survive," the letter stated.

"Has there ever been a time when Americans have needed to come face-to-face more? Exhibitions provide the most powerful form of face-to-face marketing.

"But the events that we produce are not just buying and selling opportunities, they are mobile communities of people. People who have developed their own personal networks and who crave the need to become re-connected to their friends and colleagues can only find these opportunities at exhibitions and events.

"Conducting our events as scheduled helps restore the confidence in our nation and its economy that is a vital step in our national recovery. There has never been a better time for you to contact your customers with reassuring words and support. Do this now… As one of the nation’s most important and powerful industries, now is our moment to remain united and resolved. Much depends upon the future we create."