Originally published by Trade Show Executive May 2018 Edition
Exhibitions Day is just around the corner and the industry’s advocates are gearing up for its annual descent on Capitol Hill to act as the voice of exhibitions and events. Now in its fifth year, Exhibitions Day attendees have made incredible strides toward emphasizing the value of our business ecosystem and how we contribute to the overall U.S. economy.
We have plenty of information to present to our lawmakers to plead our case. For example, the Exhibition Industry Council (EIC) teamed with Oxford Economics to release the latest Economic Significance of Meetings to the US Economy report this past February. It shows that in 2016, 1.9 million meetings were held in the U.S. that attracted 251 million participants. Furthermore, direct meetings spending reached $325 billion in 2016, an increase of 23% since 2009. Meetings generated a total GDP impact of $446 billion in 2016, including a direct contribution to the U.S. GDP of $184.2 billion. Exhibitions are a significant piece of the meetings industry.
All this to say that exhibitions mean business, which makes participating in Exhibitions Day important. Here are some of the issues we will be addressing in Washington, D.C. next month.
We must facilitate travel to the U.S. Global travel to the United States has experienced its first drop in more than a decade of steady growth – from 13.6 percent to 11.9 percent. In order to stay competitive and attract international visitors, thereby re-establishing the share of the global tourism market typically held by the U.S., lawmakers will need to make facilitating travel to the U.S. a priority when determining travel and visa policies.
We need to focus on safety and security at venues. You hear me talk about the Exhibitions and Meetings Safety and Security Initiative (EMSSI) quite often, and that’s because its mission is something I consider of extreme importance to our entire industry. The reason more than 60 industry organizations have come together to support EMSSI and its work with the Department of Homeland Security is because we are passionate about ensuring safety and security at our events, which can only be done through establishing industry wide best practices and guidelines. I am happy to report that the EMSSI accreditation program is in its final stages and is anticipated to launch very soon.
It is time to eradicate online booking scams. This may sound ambitious, but we must continue fighting the good fight against the more than 15 million fraudulent bookings caused by these scams that result in more than $1.3 billion in lost revenue for hotels and money from consumers. As in 2017, Exhibitions Day attendees will be encouraging members of Congress to vote in favor of laws that will prohibit websites from posing as a hotel. We will also push to allow state attorneys general to pursue restitution and refunds on behalf of the victims.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association achieved a great victory in this arena when it won a court case against an unaffiliated travel agency for its deceptive advertising practices and infringement upon the association’s valid and subsisting IPPE U.S. trademark registrations. We must continue to send the message to scammers that their time has come to an end, and that U.S. business will no longer tolerate their practices.
We must look to the future and invest in our nation’s infrastructure. Without proper transportation, housing and dining infrastructure, it is nearly impossible to attract trade shows and other face-to-face meetings. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) predicts that the U.S. economy will lose nearly $4 trillion in GDP between 2016 and 2025 if investment gaps in our nation’s infrastructure are not remedied. Exhibitions Day offers the industry the opportunity to show policymakers how these challenges could cost their cities valuable business revenue and motivate them to implement solutions to these challenges before it is too late.
Once again, I highly encourage you to play a part in this significant event by joining us as the voice of our industry. Registration to attend Exhibitions Day on June 5-6 is now open at www.exhibitionsday.org.
I look forward to seeing you on Capitol Hill!
David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO