(Bloomberg) -- The mobile technology industry’s trade body is cutting about a fifth of its workforce after being forced to cancel a conference that generated most of its revenue, according to a person familiar with the plan.
The decision follows the cancellation of February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona -- an early major industry casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic -- which accounts for as much as 80% of the trade group’s annual revenue. The company has around 1,000 staff, according to LinkedIn.
A spokesman for GSMA declined to comment.
The GSMA has also slashed bonus payouts to eligible individuals and taken other measures to control costs in order to host MWC Barcelona in 2021 and related shows, according to the person, who didn’t want to be identified discussing confidential information.
By removing MWC Barcelona from the calendar, and later a related Shanghai event, telecom heavyweights lost significant opportunities to generate marketing buzz around their latest wares, such as 5G devices and Internet of Things products. The industry’s biggest players often spend tens of millions of dollars to exhibit at the Barcelona show, and smaller ones pay in the hundreds of thousands.
In March, the GSMA said it would offer full refunds to all attendees for the cost of their Barcelona event tickets, which cost 799 euros ($908) for a basic admissions pass. For large exhibitors, the GSMA wants to give incentives such as discounts on attending the show in future years as an alternative to claiming large refunds.
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