On Tuesday, promoters of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest – a well respected and popular event for the high-end specialty audio segment – announced that they were cancelling the show scheduled for October 2-4, 2020 in Aurora, CO. Like many other industry events this year, the reason was due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
See more on the RMAF cancellation…
In an at-times heartfelt letter that was both sent to exhibitors and posted on the organization’s website, event Director Marjorie Baumert and Operations Director Marcie Miller – both co-signers of the letter – noted the extent of the current crisis we all find ourselves in. “Even now, some parts of the United States are beginning to reopen, although the numbers of people contracting the virus, and the number of deaths attributed to it are still rising, and the CDC is projecting an even more deadly second wave in the fall.”
Clearly, this was a tortured decision, and like many others, the promoters had hoped for a quicker bounce back from the deepest depths of the pandemic’s impact. But, they added, “The very worst thing that we can envision is for someone to fall ill because they came to our show, whether as an exhibitor, a journalist, an attendee, or a volunteer.”
RMAF Promoters Do the Right Thing
Particularly noteworthy is that in a letter specifically sent to exhibitors, the event promoters made it clear right from the beginning that they would do the right thing and return any and all exhibitor deposits. This fact alone places them in stark contrast to another canceled high end show…AXPONA…which we reported on here…and here…and even here.
“We have determined that the course of action that we must take to remain a viable entity is to cancel our show for 2020. As we stated in March, RMAF will be issuing full refunds to those exhibitors who have made their initial deposits. We understand that in times such as these, finances can be a delicate balance, so you may expect to see your refund within the next 7 to 10 business days. If your company issued a check, you may be assured that it remains un-deposited, and we will return it or shred it at your direction.RMAF letter to exhibitors
While Cancelling Show is a Bummer, Promoters Express Optimism & Exuberance for the Future
Finally, the RMAF executives wrap up their letter by expressing optimism for the future…and the next iteration of their event in 2021, a nice and classy touch in the often stressful times of COVID-19.
“…you may rest assured that we are facing the future with optimism and exuberance, and plan to use the coming year to explore new ways of making RMAF better and more enjoyable for everyone!”
And with that, RMAF promoters turned their attention to 2021.
Exhibitors Say RMAF ‘Did it the Right Way’
A few RMAF exhibitors and attendees we spoke with were almost universal in their praise of the way that Marjorie Baumert handled both this decision and its announcement. “Kudos to Marjorie,” one exhibitor told us. “She gave us plenty of notice and did it the right way.” Most of the comments we heard were in this vein.
Those exhibitors who were also involved in AXPONA couldn’t help but contrast the approach that RMAF took as compared with JD Events & AXPONA.
More Information Here
You can see the public letter of cancellation by following this link…
You can read the more detailed letter to exhibitors on Stereophile’s website here…
Learn more about the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest here: audiofest.net.
Jerry Stoeckigt says
I commend RMAF for returning all deposits. It will serve them well in the future. In defense of AXPONA, the shut down happened after all the contracts were signed and money was spent setting up and promoting the show. No contracts I’ve seen have a pandemic clause, so that money was already sunk into the show that could not be held. If you have ever been involved in setting up a conference or show, the money spent up front is significant and I believe there is no pile of money sitting around to send back, much to the dismay of exhibitors. Do I think there are things AXPONA could have done to take some of the sting out of this turn of events, yes. But in the end, the timing couldn’t have been much worse for AXPONA.
Thanks for your thoughts on this…it is a controversial situation. However, I thought I’d point out that in fact there are exposition companies that have agreements to cover a pandemic situation. Just see my recent report on Emerald Exposition at this link…
As my post notes, Emerald has every event covered by insurance that includes epidemics like COVID-19. As such, Emerald is able to properly refund deposits on an event that is not going forward. Like Emerald, JD Events is a professional exposition company that specializes in holding in-person events and as such should offer an operating model that embraces best practices.
At this point in 2020, have been dozens if not hundreds of shows and events cancelled around the world…but JD Events is the only show promoter of which I am aware that is refusing to return deposits made on AXPONA – an event that is not happening – or requiring, as I understand it, a three-year future event commitment for exhibitors to get their deposits back for the canceled 2020 show. I’m no exposition expert, but that doesn’t sound like ‘best practices’ to me.
Thanks for reading!
Jerry Stoeckigt says
My point being that there is no money sitting in a pile to refund. Bad contracts, over spending up front, I don’t know. However I’m sure they know this could easily be a life threatening injury, but I believe there isn’t anything there to refund.
It is a very unfortunate set of circumstances all around.
Unless you have some special knowledge, there’s no way to know what you say is true. Unless, that is, if you accept everything that JD says at face value.
Jerry Stoeckigt says
We don’t know, but I not ready to imply someone is lying and stealing from me, unless you can show otherwise. So I guess we have a different view. I’m not going to be outraged and keep kicking the horse. I’m going to move on with another horse.
Not implying anything about JD. I have no way of knowing. This was just a rhetorical turn on your comment.
Can you tell I used to be on the debate team? :-) I meant no disrespect, sir.
I see both sides of this ugly issue.
Thank so much for reading and contributing your thoughts on Strata-gee!