Originally published in Trade Show Executive, May 2015 Issue

As industry professionals it is imperative that we become more involved with our local and federal governments. Discriminatory practices and legislation, onerous taxation and restrictive Wi-Fi regulations are a few of the issues that have cropped up in recent headlines. With the uproar over Indiana’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, I have to ask, what are you doing to get involved?

One of IAEE’s key pillars in our strategic plan is advocacy. Advocacy initiatives should be a part of every organization because legislative actions can wreak havoc on your business model, long term goals, attendees, and exhibitors before you realize it is an issue. Advocacy is also a key way to further promote and validate the industry we work so hard to maintain and expand.

IAEE is committed to advocacy in a number of ways including involvement with the Exhibitions Mean Business (EMB) and Meetings Mean Business (MMB) coalitions, as well as initiatives with the Convention Industry Council (CIC), U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Travel Association. Just recently, the MMB coalition held their first North American Meetings Industry Day (NAMID) with great success.

In 2014, the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign launched Exhibitions Day (www.exhibitionsday.org), an extension of the campaign’s efforts that were focused solely on bringing members of the industry from around North America together to engage, as a single and cohesive voice, with U.S. Congressional leaders. Through this direct forum of discussion, industry members were given a platform to discuss the matters that impact exhibitions and events and directly voice their needs, concerns and expectations to our nation’s lawmakers.

The inaugural event boasted more than 100 exhibition professionals who met with 19 different state offices. This resulted in rallying a strong backing for the JOLT (Jobs Originated through Launching Travel) Act with 166 cosponsors for the bill – a direct result of our industry’s involvement during the one day event. Now in its second year, IAEE along with an even greater number of industry organizations and professionals, will come together to engage federal legislators on issues affecting the exhibitions and events industry. The 2015 Exhibitions Day, taking place on June 9 in Washington, D.C. will focus on continued support of the JOLT Act; vocalizing our support for the Travel Promotion, Enhancement and Modernization Act; and emphasizing the importance of government employee trade show attendance.

Exhibitions Day is just one of the many different ways to get involved with your local and federal government entities. As an exhibition industry professional, I encourage you to GET INVOLVED and visit with your local congressman or woman. Schedule an appointment, arm yourself with key facts about the exhibition industry (ex: industry research from CEIR) and learn more about what it going on in your “backyard”. Talk to your local congressman or woman about the economic impact that your show has in their region. Obtain a proclamation in your city during Exhibitions Day week. Phone and/or write your elected officials. It’s our responsibility to make lawmakers aware of legislation that affects their constituents.

If we expect change we must do something to affect change.

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

Posted by Elizabeth McQuade

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