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The Importance of Advocacy

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

A few weeks ago, the majority of us breathed a sigh of relief as the longest-lasting partial government shutdown in U.S. history came to an end. The shutdown affected many industries, including ours, and we heard from IAEE members on the effects it had on their shows. Once the Center for Exhibition Industry Research releases its CEIR index results for the first quarter of 2019, we will also be able to see how the shutdown impacted the industry across its various sectors, including the government sector.

The shutdown raised eyebrows, but not surprising was the swiftness with which it ended once travel was affected. In fact, knowing what we know about how our industry works, many of you likely predicted that would be the case. Travel is just one component of how exhibitions mean business, yet look at the voice it had in the case of the government shutdown. Which brings me to my point: acting as the voice of our industry to our nation’s leaders is crucial.

Advocacy is no small undertaking; it takes a lot of work and know-how to navigate the processes and requirements of Capitol Hill, but you don’t have to worry about that because you have Exhibitions Day. Entering its sixth year, Exhibitions Day brings industry professionals together in a powerful campaign to address the issues that affect our business environment the most, and our efficacy increases year over year.

Last year, Exhibitions Day provided the platform to communicate to lawmakers the importance of facilitating business travel to the U.S.; the need for an accreditation program that will do everything it can to ensure the safety and security of our venues; a legislative call to action on the fight against online booking scams; and the importance of investing in our nation’s infrastructure in the interest of preserving business revenue generated by our $91 billion industry. And that was just last year!

We have learned quite a bit about this process in the past five years, which led IAEE to expand its Advocacy Committee. This committee is part of an industry alliance that works with advocacy experts on Capitol Hill to help solidify the strategies we will apply in promoting how exhibitions mean business to our government, and national and local economies. The team evaluates the most timely legislation that affects our industry and hones our messaging for dissemination to the appropriate representatives.

Exhibitions Day attendees receive talking points and printed collateral for presentation. An orientation session is held the day before that provides a full understanding of the issues on the docket and the process of meeting with representatives. A networking reception also allows our advocates to get to know the members of the group they will be joining as they divide and conquer Capitol Hill the following day. By the time the exhibitions and events industry comes face-to-face with our lawmakers, we are a persuasive voice!

I cannot stress enough the importance of actively participating in this effort. Each year, more than 100 industry professionals take part in Exhibitions Day, but there’s always room for more. I encourage you to join us on June 4-5, especially if you have not experienced the satisfaction that comes with knowing you played a significant role in the story of our industry.

Speaking of industry stories, I also urge you to check in with the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign at Share how your exhibitions and events factor into the $91 billion industry that contributes to the overall U.S. economy, and take advantage of the resources available addressing the health of our industry.

Nobody knows better than we do just how much exhibitions mean business – let’s all do our part to spread that message loud and clear!

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

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