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Advocacy’s Role in Our COVID-19 Recovery

IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA relays the importance of becoming industry advocates to support the recovery of our industry.

Originally published by Trade Show Executive

As we move into the summer months, our industry is still assessing the toll that COVID-19 has/is/will be taking on exhibitions and events. As reported by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) in late April, we are gaining a clearer picture from data fielded by an ongoing survey to business-to-business (B2B) exhibition executives. In addition to monitoring the economic impact, industry leaders have been proactive in finding solutions to the logistical challenges unique to trade shows when dealing with communicable diseases such as this novel coronavirus.

The effects of this pandemic have touched each and every one of us in varying degrees, and the desire to find our way back to the stability and growth that typically define our industry is palpable. We are examining many areas of how we conduct business, and advocating on behalf of our industry has quickly revealed itself as a viable resource in which we can expand upon our already established successes to propel our recovery process. Now, more than ever, it is incumbent upon each of us to take part in acting as the unified voice of our industry.

This year’s Exhibitions Day, which took place on June 3, was held via virtual format to allow participants to continue communicating to U.S. legislators the considerable contribution our industry makes to the overall U.S. economy and convey the ongoing value propositions presented by the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign. The latest figure from CEIR reflects that, in 2019, B2B exhibitions contributed $101 billion to the U.S. GDP (up from $97 billion in 2018).

Although we are bracing for the obvious downturn to come in the remainder of 2020, CEIR also expects a full recovery within eight quarters, with the GDP in 2021Q4 anticipated to exceed the previous peak in 2019Q4. With this in mind, top advocacy priorities have centered around making sure our industry is recognized in federal economic relief programs such as the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program, which did not include our industry in its first round.

We do this through collaborative efforts such as Exhibitions Day, which brings together organizations like the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Events Industry Council (EIC), International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), Meetings Mean Business Coalition and the U.S. Travel Association to deliver our industry’s stories to lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

Organization leaders representing every facet of the industry have come together to remedy this oversight and work to resolve other pressing issues we face, but we cannot do it alone and we cannot take our foot off the accelerator simply because Exhibitions Day has passed. For example, the Go LIVE Together Coalition is comprised of 80 founding partners that represent more than 4,000 companies with operations within the U.S. and 112 countries. Its initiatives include supporting the Trade Show & Event Recovery Act, which is rallying for stimulus funding pertaining to our industry as well. This initiative will also need your voice.

Each and every communication to U.S. lawmakers on behalf of these efforts makes a difference. By contacting your representative, you are directly contributing to the recovery of our industry. Visit and to find out more about how you can lend your voice to these initiatives. On the grassroots level, individual communities will have their own perspective on reinstating exhibitions and events. Reaching out to city and state government officials will also go a long way in moving our progress along the road to recovery.

By working together, we will prevail over the effects of COVID-19 to our industry. Through one voice united in advocacy, we will continue to spread the message that Exhibitions Mean Business!

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

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