Exhibitions Day 2016 Scores Record Attendance, Marks First Global Advocacy Effort

TSE STAFF
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Washington, D.C. — A record 110 industry professionals gathered on Capitol Hill on June 8 for the 3rd annual Exhibitions Day, hosted by Exhibitions Mean Business. The delegation of industry professionals met in 125 face-to-face appointments with US legislators and their aides.

“June 8th is a great day for the exhibition industry in more ways than one,” said David DuBois, CAE, CMP, President and CEO for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), the founding organization behind Exhibitions Mean Business. In addition to a record turnout, DuBois explained that this year’s D.C. event tied into a worldwide effort to promote the exhibition industry, with dozens of countries marking the day with activities, celebrations and social media campaigns.

“We’ve broadened the vision for Exhibitions Day,” DuBois told TSE. “As one industry speaking in one voice around the globe, we have created Global Exhibitions Day.” Global Exhibitions Day was driven by a new alliance between IAEE and Paris-based UFI — The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry. The two groups have been working since January to highlight the exhibition industry on a global scale on June 8.

In Washington, D.C., attendees at Exhibitions Day met with legislators not only to promote the $77 billion economic impact of the US exhibitions industry but also to advocate for legislation on two specific issues: curtailing online hotel booking scams and halting the new overtime rules released by the Department of Labor last month.

Exhibitions Day attendees asked US House of Representative members to co-sponsor H.R. 4526, which prohibits web sites from pretending to be hotels and allows state attorneys general to pursue restitution and refunds on behalf of the victims. An estimated 15 million fraudulent bookings cause more than $1.3 billion in lost money from consumers and hotels, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Exhibitions Mean Business, which is partnering with AHLA in advocating for H.R. 4526, is pushing for the bill to be expanded to include protections from scammers who pose as housing companies to pirate bookings and revenues from event organizers.

Exhibitions Day attendees also met with legislative policymakers and aides to discuss two bills that would prevent the enactment of new Department of Labor overtime rules, which will raise the threshold for overtime exemption for salaried employees from $23,660 to $47,476 per year beginning in December. Two pieces of proposed legislation, S. 2707 and H.R. 4773, would block changes to overtime rules and require the Department of Labor to perform a deeper analysis of the impact these changes would have on small businesses, nonprofits and local economies. Exhibitions Mean Business is partnering with the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) in advocating for these two bills.

In an orientation meeting held the day before Exhibitions Day, participants heard from ASAE, AHLA and the US Travel Association advocacy leaders, who provided background information on issues and coaching on the best ways to approach legislators. The meeting included a presentation by Mark Begich, who was a US Senator from Alaska from 2009 to 2015. “In the halls of Congress, there is very low awareness of the tremendous economic impact of trade shows,” he said. “This is your chance to change that and build relationships with legislators so your collective voice will be heard.”

Reach David DuBois at (972)458-8002 or ddubois@iaee.com