Moving a Convention from North Carolina, because of a discriminatory, hateful law

By , August 19, 2016

September 8, 2016: I was pleased to receive this announcement from Informa today: “Informa and Channel Partners value and celebrate diversity in all its forms within our workforce and among sponsors and attendees.  With that in mind, Channel Partners finds North Carolina’s recently passed law, known as HB2,  incompatible with its values and cannot therefore move forward with plans to hold the Channel Partners Evolution event in Charlotte in September 2017.”

Their full message:

As you know, each year Channel Partners selects a new city in which to hold its fall Evolution event. We seek to ensure that we and our sponsors have sufficient time to plan for each location, and typically book our site two years ahead of time.

In 2015 we visited Charlotte, North Carolina, and felt that it was an excellent match for the Evolution event. We’ve been watching closely as Charlotte and the state of North Carolina have been in the news. This spring, the state enacted a law specifically aiming to nullify the progressive laws passed by the city of Charlotte to protect local and visiting members of the LGBTQ community.

Informa and Channel Partners value and celebrate diversity in all its forms within our workforce and among sponsors and attendees.  With that in mind, Channel Partners finds North Carolina’s recently passed law, known as HB2,  incompatible with its values and cannot therefore move forward with plans to hold the Channel Partners Evolution event in Charlotte in September 2017.

With that, we are happy to announce that we have expedited our plans to have an event in the great city of Austin Texas and will do so next year Tuesday September 26 – Friday September 29th 2017.  It is a cool city, centrally located, has perfect venues for our event and plenty of great spaces for your receptions…that and the weather is pretty nice in late September!

In addition, we are close to selecting Philadelphia as our 2018 Evolution host city.  Another great city, venues and it is easily accessible for a majority of our sponsors and partners.

There will be official messaging to follow in the coming weeks but wanted to provide you with a note in advance as you plan for 2017 and 2018.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank again for your commitment to the Channel and Channel Partners!

 Thomas J. Baker

Senior Account Executive | Channel Partners

 

[Previous title was: “Skipping a Convention in North Carolina, because of a discriminatory, hateful law”]

On August 19, 2016, I wrote:

North Carolina’s absurd, hateful new law, prohibiting people from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity, has caused a backlash against the state as a convention and tourism destination.  The NBA moved the All-Star game from Charlotte because of the law, and a variety of other groups have also canceled plans for conventions in North Carolina, either because they are boycotting the state directly, or as a result of pressure from customers, members, potential attendees, potential exhibitors, and corporate sponsors.

This week, while exhibiting at the Channel Partners Evolution conference in Washington DC, I learned that next year, the event will be in Charlotte, North Carolina. (This location information doesn’t yet appear on their web sites!) I immediately informed Informa Exhibitions that our company won’t exhibit or attend.

That was a bit premature and presumptuous of me, since I hadn’t yet discussed the issue with our company’s owner. But when I returned to Fremont, he agreed that if I wasn’t comfortable going there, then we won’t be represented there.

I was somewhat amused that when I raised the issue with one of Informa’s sales representatives, he acted as if I was the first person to mention the issue. Later, I discussed this with some other exhibitors, who shared the exact same story: when they raised the issue of North Carolina’s discriminatory law, their sales reps also pretended that it was the first time the issue had ever been raised.

I do understand Informa’s position.  I don’t know when they chose the location, but they’re clearly very price-sensitive — else, why schedule these conventions in August in the hot, humid mid-Atlantic region? Changing the location now would likely mean forfeiting deposits and might louse up non-refundable travel plans for some people.

But in my mind, there was no decision to be made; I’m not going to visit North Carolina while the state legislature’s unconstitutional law continues in effect. Why would I want to visit a place where the law deliberately incites hate against any group?

Yes, I know that more than half of North Carolina residents believe that the law is wrong.  Perhaps in November, they will vote for legislators who will repeal the law and denounce the hateful ideas it embodies. If so, I might be able to attend this event.

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