Sue McCart is on a mission to get her peers involved in advocacy. Why? To ensure that they get as much out of it as she has.

An IAEE member since 1983, former chair of the Advocacy Committee, and IAEE’s first Exhibitions Mean Business Ambassador, Sue uses her love for advocacy as a platform to connect with people.

“There is a passionate group of people in our industry who care about the higher-level issues that impact us on a daily basis,” says Sue. “The industry colleagues, other members of IAEE I’ve met through this process, I’d probably not have met otherwise. They’ve helped me in other aspects of my business. I can call on someone I met because I connected with them in committees. It’s easy to learn and share our ideas because they are passionate about the same things.”

Sue credits IAEE President and CEO David Dubois with influencing her to join the advocacy committee and remembers how she felt during her first Exhibitions Day in Washington, D.C.

“I got channeled into advocacy and I loved it. I care about it. My first Exhibitions Day was eye opening to see how these senators and congresspeople really do want to hear from their constituents. They really listen. If they personally can’t meet with you, then you get their lead staffers.”

Sue is now a three-time Exhibitions Day participant. “The first time I didn’t know what to expect, so I showed up in D.C. and Roger Rickard leads a meeting where you sit at a table with your state. You talk about the issues and then go to appointments. During the first one, I was quiet so I could see the format. We talked about Georgia issues. Then I said, ‘I get this. I’ll take the lead next time. I’m not at a loss for words.’ I really enjoyed it and do believe that it has an impact.”

The frustrating part, says Sue, “is when we can’t move these bills along.” Issues at the forefront of her mind include list poaching, the Visa Waiver Program, and state/local issues such as bathroom bills.

“Advocacy addresses the issues that have a direct impact or effect on either the buyer or seller who attends an event in a city or the professional attendee or exhibitor,” says Sue. “There are issues as a trade show organizer and company owner – it’s in the forefront of my mind to do whatever it takes to be able to bring the best event experience. List poaching is becoming a critical point where these list poachers are out there hitting our exhibitors. We have the official list and they don’t. Our exhibitors come to us when they are scammed, and they are angry.”

Sue feels strongly that members also plug into issues and collaborate with peers at their state and local level. “Issues that impact the success of everyone’s business should be top of mind for our members, for planners, for suppliers. We all need to be critically interested in issues happening in our state capitols.” She recommends that chapters should find out what local or state area hospitality-related groups are already doing for advocacy. Instead of reinventing the wheel, contact them and talk about how to join forces.

“I feel we are making a difference,” says Sue. “I do feel that our voices are being heard and if someone cares about the issues that affect trade shows and events on a global, state and local levels, they should be involved.” And, Sue promises, “They will be rewarded through the people they meet and the impact they make.”

Exhibitions Day 2020 (June 2-3) registration is openStart using your voice now!

Sue’s Top Advocacy Tips:

  • Join us for Exhibitions Day!
  • Chapters should find out what local or state area hospitality-related groups are already doing for advocacy. Instead of reinventing the wheel, contact them and talk about how to join forces.
  • Keep the momentum going after Exhibitions Day – get involved and help us advocate for issues that matter to the industry.
  • Check out our Exhibitions Mean Business resources online to learn more about the issues.


Posted by Editorial Staff

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