At this time last year, we were preparing to close out the toughest year our industry had ever experienced with hopeful optimism to what 2021 would bring. Even though this year has remained challenging, the consensus among industry leaders is that the optimism has paid off.
We have seen increasing numbers of successfully held trade shows demonstrate that we can safely return to the in-person marketplace through diligent and creative planning. Many of you may be reading this from or after Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Philadelphia where we are pleased to return to our in-person experience, albeit modified, along with our digital experience. Attention to providing a safe environment for shows has been the game changer to our recovery process, and it remains a work in progress that involves cooperation among all channels of our industry.
Another of our industry’s strongest assets has been the headway made through our advocacy initiatives. This year, our advocacy journey evolved into the creation of the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA), which is solely devoted to the recovery and advancement of the business events industry. Comprised of nine leading industry organizations, the ECA bears witness to the saying, “It takes a village.”
Last month marked the reopening of U.S. borders to fully vaccinated travelers from around the world, subject to new testing and contact tracing procedures. While this is a positive step towards increasing the number of attendees and exhibitors at many U.S. trade shows, the ECA has been attentive to the visa issues that remain as part of the process and is working to address the effects these will have on our industry.
In addition, the ECA is working with organizations across various affected industries to address the lack of pandemic risk insurance coverage. Efforts are underway to call on U.S. lawmakers to return communicable disease insurance coverage to trade shows, which will continue into 2022. You can stay on top of ECA’s efforts by visiting www.ecalliance.us and watching the “Road to Recovery Series” on its YouTube channel. I also strongly encourage everyone to start thinking about how you will participate in the ECA Legislative Action Day next year.
2021 has also seen our community steadfastly maintain resilience by staying connected and supportive of each other as we continue to make our way through this crisis together. The CEM community now totals over 3,700 professionals worldwide with this global recognized designation and IAEE’s monthly community buzz hours have been met with resounding success as participants are able to share thoughts and discuss various issues in a relaxed, yet productive, setting. Free webinars from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) have kept participants informed on the industry’s movement and economic signals. The lines of communication are open, which is crucial to keeping the momentum going in the right direction. Let’s keep that ball rolling in 2022!
I wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season, and look forward to seeing how exhibitions will mean business in the coming year.
David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO