by Michael J. Shapiro | June 12, 2018
The fifth annual Exhibitions Day, a collaborative effort by exhibitions- and events-industry organizations, drew a record 125 attendees to Capitol Hill last week. Those who carried the industry message to elected officials on June 6 included representatives from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, Exhibitions Mean Business and 20 additional industry organizations.
 
"It is our duty and responsibility to educate our government officials on how we can work together to continue the upward growth of this important business channel," said David Dubois, CMP, CAE, IAEE president and CEO. According to recent research from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, the industry now contributes $91 billion to the country's GDP, Dubois pointed out.
 
The two-day event included a day of preparations: An orientation session first provided attendees with updates on the legislative issues to be discussed the following day with members of Congress. More than 100 meetings with elected officials were held on the second day, touching on issues such as online-booking scams, safety and security, travel facilitation and investment in infrastructure.
 
"One of our industry's strengths is that we are 'people' people," explained IAEE chairperson Daniel McKinnon, CEM, vice president of global client solutions for Freeman XP. "We believe in and truly enjoy communicating the benefits of face-to-face engagement. The fact that we had record attendance this year shows how passionate we are about what we do, and how significant meetings are to our economy and the global business ecosystem.
 
"Notably, security is a very important issue," he added. "We better define our own security protocols before they are defined for us. And that's an advantage not only to the facilities and the organizations that we're working with, but also to our legislators. We're being proactive."
 
IAEE, the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association and the International Association of Venue Managers, have collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security to develop the Exhibitions and Meetings Safety and Security Initiative, which was one of the topics of conversation at last week's gathering, along with the need for Congress to fund the initiative in the future.