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Globally Speaking

Read IAEE President and CEO David DuBois’ on his perspective on global risks and threats that have an impact on the exhibitions and events industry.

Originally published by Trade Show Executive February 2019 Edition

Global risks and threats are an enduring topic, not only in the exhibitions and events industry, but in most business sectors. If you attended Expo! Expo! in December, you may have participated in some of the sessions offered addressing global issues. You may also be reading about projections in your current news feeds. As an international organization, IAEE pays special attention to these factors and weighs the effects they may have on our members and our industry.

Some of the biggest impacts we have seen, and will continue to see, come from the good, bad and ugly sides of the technology-based reality that is the new norm. Keeping up with how to conduct business in today’s tech-based model is no longer an option. Leaders must invest the appropriate time and resources in managing their IT needs. Disruptive technologies coupled with concerns regarding cyber security keep heads of companies and organizations on their toes.

Many conversations among top executives center around implementing programs to stay ahead of cyber-attacks and increase overall IT security measures in-house. Organizations must account for ongoing upkeep of systems and educating team members (including those outside of the IT department) on best practices for protecting the organization against cyber threats.

Perhaps one of the more surprising challenges for businesses has been extreme weather and its resulting consequences. The costs related to storms, droughts, forest fires and other weather-related disruptions impact all aspects of conducting business, especially those that concern our industry. Issues that arise from weather crises affect production of shows and travel by everyone involved – these are not small glitches in our world. Now, more than ever, shows must have effective risk management plans in place. The more global your operations, the more extensive these plans must be. Be sure to consult with your risk management and/or insurance carrier to ensure proper coverage.

The geopolitical environment presents an undeniable consideration for industry leaders. The current market volatility is at the highest levels seen in the past decade, and increased restrictions on travel can be traced back to relatively recent political turmoil. This directly counteracts the increase in global activity our industry has experienced in recent years. An increase we want to see continue and grow.

Although we may not be able to directly impact the decisions of our world leaders, we are able to unify the worldwide exhibition industry through collaboration with global partners. The Global MICE Collaborative between IAEE, MPI and SITE is a perfect example of this. Through workforce development and destination awareness involving competency-building, live events, research and consulting, the Global MICE Collaborative will expand upon a thriving community of experienced professionals across the globe.

Which leads to another concern I hear discussed among industry executives: the acquisition, development and retention of new talent. In some ways, this is not necessarily new and some may argue that this has always been part of doing business. As I have mentioned, what is new is the rapidly changing digital marketplace. Also, given that more than 50 percent of our workforce is shifting with Baby Boomers retiring and Millennials moving up, and access to global talent is greater than ever, there is no reason why leaders shouldn’t want and have the best talent available to them. Attracting and keeping talent becomes the challenge, as we see the current workforce manage their careers more quickly and diversely than past generations.

This is where leaders need to weigh the benefits they offer their team members. I’ve spoken before about the benefits to investing in team members through continuing education and training. One of the lessons we have learned from research is that Millennials appreciate feeling valued in an organization. In addition, the recent Edelman Trust Barometer tells us that all stakeholders are looking to businesses for reliability in information that used to come from other sources such as the government and news outlets.

What this tells me is that we, industry leaders, must step up to the plate more than ever before. We must forge cohesiveness among our teams through advocacy, collaboration, education and transparency. The exhibitions and events industry has been doing this all along, and we are in a much better position than other industries. However, we must not get too comfortable in what we have accomplished. There is more work to be done and we need everyone to contribute.

If you have not gotten involved in industry organizations, now is the time. If you have not brushed up on the latest industry innovations, this is a good year to attend the various education events offered or start on your CEM certification. If you have never attended Exhibitions Day, mark your calendar for June 5. My point is, challenging times require strength and solidarity which, fortunately in our industry, we have plenty to offer.

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO

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