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Mobile World Conference Debacle, OZ Travel Insurance Companies Reject Claims

The cancellation of Mobile World Conference in Barcelona due to the Coronavirus, is having a massive kick on effect with brands now trying to work out how to claim losses and resurrect lost opportunities with many insurance Companies rejecting claims.

Last night Motorola held a global conference call with subsidiaries to try and work out how they should launch their new Motorola range, more than 200 journalists had registered for their Barcelona MWC event.

So far, GSMA has told attendees that they shouldn’t expect to see the money they spent booking exhibition space at the event. Several Australian attendees who tried to claim on their travel insurance have been hit by clauses in the fine print of their insurance contracts.

Dave Rubie, who was planning on flying to Barcelona from Australia on behalf of his agriculture tech company Smart Shepherd said, “As it turns out, the travel insurance had a clause in it that anything involving a disease outbreak wouldn’t be covered,”.

“That’s money I would have normally used to do business development in my local region, or take a trip to the US,” he said.

The organisers of the event called the cancellation a “force majeure situation” and posted a document on MWC’s website showing that its insurance policy includes exceptions for events like war, national mourning and SARS outbreaks.

ChannelNews understands that one legal firm is shopping a class action against the organisers due to the millions that Companies face losing.

Several Australian Company who were scheduled to attend the event next are now having to wear the cost for non-refundable flights and hotel rooms which Barcelona hotel and apartment operators had jacked up due to the popularity of the event.

Companies have also lost hundreds of thousands of dollars after building out their exhibits for the show.

Robb Henshaw, an MWC veteran, told News Corp in New York that some small businesses could easily be looking at losses of $1 million or more, which was what his previous company had spent at the conference before it was acquired by Cisco.
“If you want to go to Barcelona and actually have foot traffic and be seen, you’re talking a minimum quarter- million dollar to half-a-million-dollar investment for the booth and build-out,” Henshaw said.

Several brands including Huawei, Oppo, TCL and Samsung were set to take resellers and journalists to Barcelona and had pre booked flights.

Yesterday Qantas announced a projected $150 Million dollar slump in revenue due to the Coronavirus.

“The amount of logistics and planning that goes into preparing for that show is literally three months,” Henshaw said. “It’s three months of your company’s productivity just gone.”

The conference’s governing body, GSMA, pulled the plug on Feb. 12 after some of the biggest brands in the world including Amazon, Sony Facebook pulled the plug on the event due to the risks associated with the event that attracts large audiences from China where the Coronavirus broke out.

To date the global coronavirus epidemic has killed more than 2,000 people, mainly in China.

GSMA did not respond to a request for comment, but in an e-mail sent to exhibitors obtained by industry blog Telecoms, said it was working on “a proposal” to present to exhibitors and commercial partners by the end of March.

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