There will be no visit to Vegas for sports card shop owners this year.
The Industry Summit announced Monday it was cancelling the in-person program, which had been scheduled for the Westgate Hotel & Casino in September. Instead, the annual business-to-business conference hosted by Beckett Media and Panini America will be a virtual event, now scheduled for October 19-21. The format and date changes were driven by coronavirus-based restrictions.
Ted Barker, Summit director and co-host, announced the changes after re-visiting the hotel and consulting with sponsors.
“After visiting Las Vegas last week, it became crystal clear that a virtual format is the best way to celebrate our industry’s incredible success this year,’’ Barker stated in making the announcement. “Safety of our attendees is our foremost priority.”
As late as June, organizers had pledged to go ahead with the September event, highlighting a survey that encouraged them to press forward. Those plans changed with the continuing spread of COVID-19. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Nevada Department of Health and Human services reported that as of July 25, at least 347 visitors to the city had tested positive for the virus “either while in the state or soon after returning home.” Cases have exploded among all Nevada residents since casinos reopened, with more than 54,000 cases reported.
DJ Kazmierczak, Panini’s Vice President of Sales & Product Development, noted that the move to a virtual Industry Summit may actually allow for a wider audience to participate in the event, which is typically attended by hobby shop owners, distributors, online retailers, at least one or two trading card manufacturers and representatives of professional sports leagues. Rather than cancel it entirely for 2020, plans were put in place to hold the Summit online.
“The opportunities for all of us right now are too great to go an extended period of time without business collaboration with key industry people,” he stated in a news release announcing the transition.
The Summit’s format will include various online sessions each of the three days from Noon to– 5:00 PM CDT. The date shift allows organizers to reallocate the agenda’s schedule of events within the platform. Included will be educational sessions, topical Q&A sessions, breakout sessions with key groups, sponsor booths, keynote speakers, industry awards, private meetings with sponsors/attendees and a virtual Meet The Industry including additional sponsor gifts for attendees who complete every session. Prize drawings will be held several times each day.
Stated Jason Howarth, Vice President of Marketing for Panini America: “While it’s unfortunate, we won’t all be able to gather together in what has been a truly monumental year for trading cards – the Industry Summit’s transition to a virtual event still gives us the opportunity to get together and connect and talk about the trading card industry’s resilience during the pandemic, best practices, key learnings and how we continue to move forward.”
Summit registration is open and organizers say gifts from event sponsors will be handed out to the first 350 who sign up.