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With a timeline of event cancellations and postponements changing by the day, travel plans for professionals in the outdoor industry—and everyone else on the planet—have come to a screeching halt.
Outside Business Journal polled the industry about spring travel plans and received more than 550 responses from professionals across the outdoor space. As of this writing, the numbers break down as follows:
Extremely concerned; already canceled plans
Responses: 49 (9%)
Very concerned; will likely cancel plans
Responses: 85 (16%)
Concerned; monitoring closely
Responses: 255 (49%)
Not too concerned; it will all blow over soon
Responses: 117 (22%)
Not concerned at all
Responses: 19 (4%)
These numbers, it should be noted, have changed sharply in the last 24 hours, after the coronavirus outbreak was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. As of yesterday, Outside Business Journal had recorded a total of 418 responses. Today, that number jumped to 525.
The number of “not at all concerned” and “not too concerned” responses each increased 11 percent, while the number of “concerned” responses increased 19 percent, “very concerned” increased 57 percent, and “extremely concerned” increased 75 percent.
In a closed outdoor industry group on Facebook, where we publicized the poll, we received the following comments:
“I’m in the bike industry. Most every show is cancelled through summer. Several elite-level world cup races are postponed or cancelled. The supply chain is heavily interrupted. It’s a big mess for us.” —Lacy Kemp
“In the sailing world, regattas are canceling left and right due to the international attendance. As a business, we’re experiencing supply issues. No matter what your level of ‘concern’ is, there’s a significant impact on the market.” —Morgan Kinney
“I’m not nearly as concerned about trade shows and travel as I am the overall economic slowdown. I’m a rep and already have stores putting orders on hold or canceling all together. Nevermind all the people simply not answering emails and calls. Supply chain will definitely be affected for F20 goods too.” —Andrew Cheatham
Travel bans across the industry
In response to the exponential spread of the virus, many companies have suspended travel to protect employees’ health.
Petzl confirmed today that it would close its headquarters outside of Salt Lake City and send all employees, other than a handful of warehouse staff, home. It has also banned all work-related travel, both domestic and international. Outdoor Research has cancelled all non-essential employee work travel and encouraged employees to work remotely. Eddie Bauer has encouraged employees to work remotely. CamelBak has restricted employee travel to China. OBJ’s own parent company, Active Interest Media in Boulder, Colorado, has banned all work-related international travel and encouraged limited domestic travel.
At the same time, numerous shows and events have been cancelled or postposed to discourage industry travel. The Sea Otter Classic in Monterey was rescheduled for the fall. Las Vegas’s Shoptalk conference has been cancelled. The North American Handmade Bicycle Show has been postponed. In the coming days, it’s all but certain that more cancellations will be announced.
As many event organizers try to manage the situation, some have opted to forego in-person events in favor of virtual substitutes. The American Alpine Club, for example, has replaced its annual benefit dinner with a virtual alternative.
Precaution, not panic
Despite these developments, it’s important to remember that while caution is necessary, panic is not. The CDC has released a series of recommendations for travel within the U.S. that we urge you to follow closely. OIA has also released a page of resources specific to the industry.