As we near the end of the first half of 2021, states are beginning to reopen and real momentum is happening in the trade show ecosystem. Hope is on the horizon, and collectively as an industry, we are all starting to breathe a little easier with optimism for the future.
COVID-19 has forced us to rethink the future, plan differently and more intentionally, and expanded our view of how much stronger we are when we work together towards a common goal.
IAEE partnered with SISO to create the Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance (ECA) in February 2021. With the support of seven additional industry associations, we are leading the business events industry into a new era.
Since the beginning of the year, IAEE, through its work with the ECA, held a very successful legislative action day on June 2 with a focus on the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act (S.477/H.R.1346). Twenty-five state delegations met and spoke to federal lawmakers and their staff about the real economic impact in their states and asked for Capitol Hill support of this legislation. As of June 10, the bill has received bi-partisan support from the House and Senate and we are continuing these conversations with members of Congress in the coming months with the goal of having Section 2 of this bill signed into law by year end.
IAEE recently joined the Business Continuity Coalition (BCC), a group of more than 40 industry associations and companies calling on Congress to pass much-needed pandemic risk insurance legislation, which would include event cancellation coverage. The BCC represents a broad range of industries including the restaurant, entertainment, hospitality, gaming, retail, communications, broadcasting, real estate, and association industries, which collectively employ more than 66 million people.
ECA, IAEE, and SISO will be working with the BCC to advocate for the creation of a federally-backstopped insurance program that protects jobs by ensuring business continuity from future economic losses from future pandemics and other emergencies that necessitate a widespread closure of the economy.
Returning to In-Person Events
Advocacy is not only work being done at the federal level. IAEE has helped our organizer community navigate the uncertainty of getting back to the business of live events. Real concerns are being felt with the labor shortage around the country, and IAEE has worked with ESCA to address these challenges and begin to put the organizer community’s concerns to rest.
Community sessions have been expanded to help various member segments gain insights from one another and help IAEE to drive conversations that matter. The Major American Trade Show Organizers (MATSO) Council and broader MATSO community members have been meeting regularly to draw attention and subsequent action through IAEE to address not only labor challenges, but legal and health/safety concerns, catering increases, and the changing trade show model and what it means for future success. Additionally, IAEE community sessions and discussions have created a dialogue for organizers and suppliers to come together and work toward a promising and profitable future.
Work continues with IAEE’s workforce development initiatives as we are experiencing an even greater exodus of the older workforce than what was on the horizon pre-COVID. IAEE has been nurturing the young professional and student communities for many years now, and the foundation of that work is paying off as we see a new wave of the workforce already being prepared for our industry.
Through our expanded Community Buzz Hours, members have found a space to come together and meet during times of uncertainty and find comfort in similar experiences. The multiple communities that drive these conversations have resulted in real and actionable insights to help members with their jobs moving forward.
We formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee to address the needs and challenges that span not only our industry, but our communities and lives at every level. We grow through shared experiences and the work of this committee will continue to draw support and action to make our world a better place to live and work in.
In summary, I will tell you that advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. Oftentimes work done in the name of advocacy takes on many forms and is often overlooked or gone unnoticed, until a crisis like COVID hits. But the foundation of that advocacy work is what makes the response to a crisis like COVID so effective.
David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
IAEE President & CEO