I grew up outside Washington, D.C. at a time when school children went on many field trips. We spent many days touring the National Zoo, the museums and galleries of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as the U.S. Capitol, and the monuments of the National Mall. We had lunch in the Capitol cafeteria, picnicked near the Washington Monument, and rode the Metrorail. The Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance Legislative Action Day brought me back to D.C. and the Hill in a way that I did not appreciate when I was younger. As children, we were in awe of the lofty ceilings, the dark paneling, and the library-like quiet. A lifetime of television news, movies, and State of the Union coverage helped me understand how our government works. However, the opportunity to experience firsthand the process of meeting with legislative staffers to discuss issues important to our industry was both a privilege and the ultimate civics lesson.
On June 1, 2023, I joined 80+ trade show and event industry professionals in Washington, D.C., for meetings with members of Congress and their staff to discuss issues important to the live event industry. This was the first time this advocacy day has been held in person in four years and the first time that the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance has been in person. The Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance is a coalition of 10 professional, industry, and labor organizations that comprise the unified voice of the face-to-face business events industry.
This year’s agenda was focused on three policy issues critical to our industry:
- Reducing visa wait times
- Helping build our next-generation skilled workforce
- Stopping business impersonation fraud
Despite lifting international travel restrictions in November 2021, the industry still suffers from a lack of international exhibitors and attendees. Over 150 countries require a visa to travel to the U.S., and delays in some countries are between 1 – 2 years. Among other requests, we asked our representatives to support legislation to set a 21-day average goal for visa wait times.
Next Generation Workforce
There are bills in both the House and Senate that would allow students to use Pell Grants and college savings program funds for high-quality, shorter-term training and credentialing programs. These measures will improve access to skills-based training for individuals from all backgrounds to help them access great jobs and career opportunities in the live business events industry.
Business Impersonation Fraud
It seems that every day, I receive at least three scam emails offering hotel bookings or attendee list sales. Since 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received over 2.5 million business impersonation fraud reports. The FTC has been working on its Trade Regulation Rule on Impersonation of Government and Businesses and in our meetings, we asked Congress to encourage the FTC to finalize the regulation.
Sometimes, it seems that the wheels of government grind slowly. And that the different political parties cannot agree on anything. However, these three issues were met with genuine interest and bipartisan support. Hopefully, the voices of the Exhibitions & Conference Alliance were heard, and there will be positive movement on these issues soon which will support the continued rebound of the business events industry.
You too can help the live event industry and the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance move forward. Visit their website today to learn more about ongoing campaigns or to join next year’s Legislative Action Day.