Originally published in Trade Show Executive, July 2016 Edition
Last month, IAEE, along with 20 supporting organizations and more than 100 exhibitions and events professionals from around the U.S., stormed Capitol Hill for Exhibitions Day 2016. As you may know, advocacy is a key pillar in IAEE’s strategic plan and we take this role quite seriously. Coupled with the first ever Global Exhibitions Day, the numbers are in and we made a huge impact on social media driving awareness of the local, national and global impact that exhibitions and events play in communities worldwide.
Two key issues were addressed on 8 June in Washington, D.C. – Overtime Regulations proposed by the Department of Labor (DOL) and Stop Online Booking Scams Act of 2016. Allow me to delve further into these and explain why these are important pieces of legislation that affect the exhibitions and event industry.
DOL Overtime Regulations
Protecting Workplace Advancement & Opportunity Act, (Overtime Regulation) S.2707 & H.R. 4773 would block proposed changes to overtime regulation and require the DOL to perform a deeper analysis of the impact potential overtime regulations would have on small businesses, nonprofits, regional economies, local governments and other institutions prior to passing any updates. The message we took to D.C. was clear:
1) The proposed overtime rule increases the minimum salary level to qualify as exempt from overtime pay requirements to a level that we believe is too high;
2) We believe a more accurate approach is to instead align salary requirements to government data and cost-of-living differences;
3) The proposed legislation also suggests salary threshold updates every 3 years, a measure we believe will hurt employers by eliminating their ability to attract talent due to an inability to financially cover this increase in overtime qualifiers; and
4) The 1 December effective date behind these overtime rules is extremely aggressive and does not reflect the time needed to conduct a deeper analysis of its impact on organizers of exhibitions and events, which require working hours well above the traditional eight hours per day.
Stop Online Booking Scams Act of 2016
This is a topic that we at IAEE have seen as an issue for many years. As the rate of consumers booking travel accommodations online continues to surge, so has the rate of booking scams. In order to better protect consumers, the House has introduced H.R. 4526, which would prohibit web sites from pretending to be the hotel and allowing state attorneys general to pursue restitution and refunds on behalf of the victims. Upwards of 15 million fraudulent bookings are caused by these scams, resulting in more than $1.3 billion in lost revenue for hotels and money from consumers. This bill is a first step, but broadening H.R. 4526’s scope now to incorporate email and call center scams ensures the bill gets to the heart of how we can combat this criminal activity. For the show organizer, these scams can and have result in steep penalties when attrition clauses are not met with hotels. I would like to note that most offices we met with whether Republican or Democrat, recognized that this a big problem for their constituents. We have seen a lot of post event interest and follow up on this initiative started by the American Hotel and Lodging Association and we as industry, are pleased to join forces with them to bring this criminal activity to a halt.
I can say without a doubt, that Exhibitions Day 2016 surpassed our expectations in terms of broadening awareness of the exhibitions industry an affecting change at the national level. For more information on these issues, how you can get involved in our advocacy efforts, please visit www.iaee.com/resources/advocacy-initiatives or www.exhibitionsmeanbusiness.org.
And save the date for 7 June 2017 for both the U.S. Exhibitions Day and Global Exhibitions Day.
David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO