Joe Moore stands down as president of IHRSA amid crisis over trade show refunds
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Joe Moore stands down as president of IHRSA amid crisis over trade show refunds

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IHRSA announced this evening (19 August) that Joe Moore is standing down as president and CEO – a position he has held since 2006 – effective immediately.

In a statement, IHRSA said the IHRSA board will be forming a CEO search committee to begin the process of identifying Moore’s replacement and that an interim CEO will be named “in a matter of days.”

IHRSA chair, Carrie Kepple said: “Given the pandemic’s impact on the entire industry, the board is assessing the mission and strategic direction of the association.”

IHRSA has been grappling with issues relating to refunds on trade show booths for its cancelled 2020 trade show and convention.

HCM understands a significant number of suppliers who were due to exhibit at the event in March are still awaiting refunds, five months after the event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The association appears to be failing to manage the crisis, with exhibitors reporting a lack of contact from IHRSA execs and non-appearance of promised refunds.

Industry suppliers rely on leads and business generated by trade shows to meet the costs of attendance, so the lack of a show, coupled with the lack of a refund is proving challenging for many involved.

There are also questions over the timing of the cancellation of the event, which had been due to run March 18th-20th, with the decision having been taken less than a week before, on March 12 – too late for most to cancel travel and accommodation bookings, leading to further financial impact for exhibitors.

Speaking on conditions of anonymity, multiple suppliers have told HCM they've been promised refunds by pre-agreed deadlines, but that the deadline had passed and no refund had been forthcoming.

Exhibitors have been offered credits on trade show booths for the exhibition if it goes ahead in 2021, but many say they need the cash back now and want the choice of whether to exhibit next year.

They contrast IHRSA’s response to that of FIBO, which made immediate refunds on cancellation.

However, IHRSA has explained that – as a membership body, and not a commercial trade show organiser – it is in a different position from FIBO.

In a statement to HCM , the IHRSA board said: “As a nonprofit association, IHRSA greatly appreciates the support it has received from its club and supplier membership during this unprecedented time. 

    “We have given 100 per cent credit to all IHRSA 2020 exhibitors and sponsors towards IHRSA 2021. In addition, we are working through all individual requests for repayment schedules with affected companies as is financially feasible. 

“We realise that the timing of refund payments is problematic, as many companies face financial challenges relating to the pandemic.

“The reality is that the best way forward is for all companies, associations, federations and stakeholders in the global health and wellness industry to work together so that all can resume operations safely and emerge from this crisis as an industry recognised as an essential solution towards creating a healthier and more prosperous society.”

IHRSA has always relied heavily on income from its trade show to fund its work, making this a significant crisis for the organisation.

The event is one of the world's largest trade shows for the health and fitness sector.

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IHRSA announced this evening (19 March) that Joe Moore is standing down as president and CEO –  a position he has held since 2006 – effective immediately.
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