The Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance—a coalition of eight professional and labor associations that coordinates advocacy efforts for the business-events industry—is set to be as active in 2024 as it was in 2023, a year that saw the huge comeback of in-person meetings and their financial benefit to local economies after the Covid pandemic.
Last year, ECA advocated on behalf of the industry on Capitol Hill and in statehouses and city halls nationwide to help bring about several notable results:
- Overturning Kentucky’s tax on exhibition and conference exhibitors and sponsors
- Repealing California’s state-funded travel ban
- Securing a longer transition period for the industry as part of California’s draft zero-emission forklift rule
- Amending Chicago’s new paid-leave law to exclude business-event visitors
- Introducing and advancing legislation in Congress to expand skills-based training and development opportunities for future industry workers
- Testifying in support of a proposed Federal Trade Commission rule to stop email list sale and hotel-reservation scammers
- Supporting passage of House of Representatives appropriations legislation that would provide additional funding to help alleviate visa processing backlogs
- Joining an amicus brief in an appeals-court case to help keep music-licensing pay rates reasonable
In early January, ECA released its policy agenda for 2024. Its board of directors and the leaders of its member associations identified six areas where the group will actively champion “the role of the business-events industry in propelling economic growth, fostering job creation, and empowering small businesses nationwide and globally," said Hervé Sedky, president and CEO of Emerald Holding Inc. and ECA board chair.
The six major issues are:
- Restoring U.S. visa operations to pre-pandemic levels while modernizing visa processing to reinvigorate international attendance
- Bringing back communicable-disease coverage to event-cancellation insurance
- Increasing music-licensing transparency and stopping anti-competitive behavior by rights holders
- Promoting industry-led sustainability and decarbonization efforts that ensure the industry remains in control of its path to net-zero carbon events.
- Supporting government policies to help attract and train the industry’s next-generation workforce
- Amplifying efforts to raise awareness of the business-events industry to the future talent pool
In addition, ECA will support the efforts from other industry players to raise awareness of the business-events sector to its future workforce.
“From ensuring that all international exhibitors and attendees can return to exhibitions and conferences in the U.S., to supporting public-sector involvement in developing the industry’s next-generation workforce, ECA will be actively engaged,” said Vinnie Polito, CEO of the Society of Independent Show Organizers and ECA co-president.
Marsha Flanagan, CEM, the new president and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events and ECA co-president, added that “in the months ahead, ECA will continue to amplify the advocacy voice of the business-events industry, which includes show organizers, exhibitors, suppliers, venue operators, and hard-working men and women that deliver powerful events every day from coast to coast.”
Throughout 2024, ECA will also be introducing new avenues to allow industry advocates to share their stories and make their voices heard in the policy-making process.
“In 2024, ECA is going ‘all in’ to give these folks the opportunity to make sure that elected officials hear them loud and clear, whether that’s in Washington, D.C. on ECA Legislative Action Day or on the show floor in their local communities year-round,” said Tommy Goodwin, FASAE, CAE, CMP, vice president of ECA.
ECA’s entire 2024 public-policy agenda can be viewed here.