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ESCA Develops National ID Card for Show Workers


Carrollton, TX – A standardized photo identification card that would be issued to workers on trade show floors nationwide and be linked to a nationwide labor database is being launched by the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA) as a means of streamlining access to venues.

The program was announced at the International Convention Centers Conference (ICCC) in Portland September 25-27.

The badge will include a magnetic strip, barcode and passive RFID chip that records the bearer’s name, home city and state, trade or union affiliation, and an expiration date. The data will also be stored in a nationwide database maintained by ESCA that will ensure that the holder of the badge is indeed a genuine worker in the exhibition industry. The web-based system will allow individual contractors to add and delete names as needed and can list part-time and temporary workers as well as full-time employees.

“It is not a security badge,” Larry Arnaudet, executive director of ESCA, told Trade Show Executive. “But it is an identification that verifies who you are and that you are a worker in the exposition industry.”

Attractive Options

If endorsed or accepted by facilities, the ESCA badge will eliminate the need for traveling exhibition workers to carry ID badges from the different convention centers they visit over the course of the year. Workers from out of town will present their ESCA badge at the entrance and then receive a wristband or whatever other identification is required for the particular show.

An optional timekeeping function will enable contractors to use a handheld scanner to check workers in and get them on to the floor faster rather than having them wait in line to manually sign in. “It will considerably increase efficiency and cost-savings for the contractor,” Arnaudet said.

ESCA is currently reviewing proposals and will select partner(s) for the deployment of the system by the end of October and sign a contract with a provider this Fall. The system will be launched in December and January in Atlanta, Houston and Dallas. ESCA aims to issue more than 3,000 badges before the end of the year and is seeking input on the system requirements from the ICCC and the International Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM).

The cost of the badges would be paid by the contractors rather than the venues, and the badges would be the property of ESCA.

Better Us Than Them

By taking the initiative on the badge project, ESCA keeps contractors on the cutting edge of the nationwide identification concept. Arnaudet pointed out that it makes sense for ESCA to manage the program because its members employ the lion’s share of the workers on the show floor. It also reduces chances that a wide variety of identification mandates will result from different approaches by different cities.

Reach Larry Arnaudet at (469) 574-0690 or

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