We often say that advocacy is a marathon vs. a sprint. While I’m not training for a running marathon any time soon, I would like to share what I’ve learned about the marathon of legislative advocacy.
There are many ways to train for a marathon, unique to each individual. The intensity of training, what to eat, injury management and pacing all come into play. It’s about steady, forward momentum. Here’s how I apply that to our industry’s advocacy efforts:
Intensity: Focus on the needs and the impact. We can’t do it all and we can’t be all things to all people. For example, this year’s Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance Legislative Action Day focused on the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act (S.477/H.R. 1346). This legislation will encourage exhibitors and attendees to return to exhibitions, conferences, and trade shows nationwide. This bi-partisan legislation would create a three-year convention and trade show restart tax credit. I’d say that’s a key opportunity for us to support our industry, by providing financial incentives to return to business, which brings back jobs and drives economic growth. Our call to action is to build support for HCJRA and to get it passed.
Fuel: While a marathoner gets fuel from food, we get our fuel from each other. When we work together, there is no stopping us. We are the organizers, the entrepreneurs, the doers, the connectors. When we meet, things happen. The same holds true for our advocacy efforts. I’ve seen this for myself during Exhibitions Day and Legislative Action Day. We can and must continue to inspire one another to take action. When you receive an email asking you to take action, please do it. That is the energy that we need to keep our momentum going.
Injuries: There’s no doubt that our industry has suffered this past year. Through legislation such as the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act, we can address injuries with specific solutions. HCJRA will accelerate the return of exhibitions and conferences, bring back jobs, and help support the backbone of our industry: small businesses.
We have come through some tough injuries in the past and we will come through this as well. We now have playbooks in place for things such as cybersecurity, terrorism security and pandemics that we didn’t have 10-15 years ago. We have shown that we can quickly mobilize to take on any challenge, learn from it, and charge ahead.
Pacing: Advocacy for us is a year-long sport. While we may have specific dates on the calendar for Capitol Hill visits, we must communicate with our local, state and federal officials on a regular basis. This is how key decision makers and influencers will learn about our industry, our impact and our people. We can’t wait for a crisis to hit, because that puts us at the end of the pack, with too much ground to recover. We need to keep a steady pace at all times by keeping lines of communication open at all levels.
In our industry’s arena, advocacy is a team sport. The in-person events industry is an economic engine that supports 6.6 million jobs. We collectively contribute $396 billion to the GDP. All of us. Together. That is powerful. With the right approach and training, we cannot only educate key decision makers at the local, state and federal levels but we can also drive policies.
The business events industry is ready to get back to business safely and get Americans back to work. I look forward to running this race with you.
David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
IAEE President & CEO