The Voice of the Industry on Capitol Hill

Originally published by Trade Show Executive July 2017 Edition

For the past several months, I have been talking about the importance of advocating for the exhibitions and events industry at the grass roots and national levels. Last month, members of the industry came together for the fourth annual Exhibitions Day where we present our key interests to representatives of the U.S. Congress. On 6-7 June, 112 Exhibitions Day attendees made their voices heard on Capitol Hill with 84 meetings, 12 of which were at the member level. The overarching message of Exhibitions Day was the promotion of free and fair trade.

Promoting Free and Fair Trade

This call to action emphasizes the importance of business travel: its role in generating economic growth and job creation through Brand USA, a federally supported organization that promotes the U.S. overseas as a business and tourist destination. President Trump’s FY2018 budget proposal calls for the elimination of funding for the program, which was responsible for adding $8.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016. Our call to action was to urge Congress to oppose any measures to defund Brand USA and recognize reduced funding as a measure that would hurt the health of our economy.

Another goal was to show our support for Investing in America: Rebuilding America’s Airport Infrastructure Act – H.R. 1265. According to the World Economic Forum’s annual competitiveness report, the U.S. ranks 11th in the world in infrastructure quality. Without proper travel, housing and dining infrastructure, it is impossible to attract trade shows. H.R. 1265 presents an action that could deliver an immediate and positive impact on infrastructure by generating billions of dollars in much-needed revenue through the removal of an outdated cap on the passenger facility charge (PFC), a fee that has not been changed since 2000 and does not reflect today’s inflation rates or capacity needs.

Ensuring Safety and Security at Exhibitions and Events

As an industry, we fully support the idea of enhancing safety and security measures to protect the U.S. from potential threats. We believe this requires active dialogue and participation from all parties, not just Congress. As I mentioned in April, IAEE and its membership have aligned with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Safety Act Office to develop the Exhibitions and Meetings Safety and Security Initiative (EMSSI). This initiative will produce a comprehensive security benchmark that aligns with the Department of Homeland Security’s SAFETY Act, helping create safer and more secure large-scale events, such as trade shows and exhibitions.

EMSSI is in its final iteration with a targeted completion date of early October. Once completed, we will have hundreds of convention centers requesting certification from the DHS SAFETY Act Office – a significant undertaking that would require immense time and resources. Our proposal to members of Congress was to consider the necessary resource needs of the DHS SAFETY Act Office to effectively foster the development and deployment of new anti-terrorism technologies as it begins budget talks for FY 2018.

Stopping Online Booking Scams

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. The House and Senate have introduced H.R. 2495 and S. 1164 – Stop Online Booking Scams Act, which would prohibit websites from pretending to be the hotel and allow state attorneys general to pursue restitution and refunds on behalf of the victims. We urged lawmakers to co-sponsor and support H.R. 2495 and S. 1164, and empower the FTC to investigate this growing issue.

Global Exhibitions Day

On 7 June, the exhibitions industry also promoted Global Exhibitions Day – an industry wide collaboration that spans the globe. Exhibitions mean business in every country, as reflected in the growth of the industry around the world. Our international partners in this initiative have done a great job in spreading this message and we are very proud to play an integral part in the success of this initiative.

Next year’s Exhibitions Day will be held on June 5-6. I congratulate all who attended Exhibitions Day and urge everyone to continue spreading the message that Exhibitions Mean Business.

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

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