Inside Legislative Action Day: 130+ Business Events Leaders Met With Policymakers

June 4, 2024

A record number of business events industry leaders met with policymakers on Capitol Hill on Thurs., May 30 as part of the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA) annual Legislative Action Day. More than 130 advocates from 25 states raised awareness about the U.S. business events industry, which employs 2.6 million Americans and drives $399 billion in direct spending annually. 

Armed with data on economic impact of business events by state, participants discussed key issues impacting the trade show, meetings and events industry during 112 meetings with senators, House representatives and their staff. Legislative Action Day attendees represented all sectors of the business events industry — from independent and association show organizers and venues, to general service contractors and destinations.  

Here’s what you need to know about this year’s Legislative Action Day.

Related: Legislative Action Day 2024: Let’s Tell Congress to Finish the Job 

Before meeting with Senators and House Representatives, participants were briefs on the issues to address.

Big picture: This year’s Legislative Action Day focused on two of ECA’s top public policy priorities: helping the industry attract and train its next generation workforce and further reducing visa wait times for international exhibitors and attendees looking to come to U.S. exhibitions, conferences and trade shows.

Related: What’s the Latest on Visa Wait Times? 

Why it mattered: “Today was the largest gathering of the industry on Capitol Hill ever,” said Vinnie Polito, ECA’s co-president and Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) CEO. “As we have seen in recent months, when our industry shows up and advocates together with one voice, we can drive policy change that positively impacts all of us going forward.”

Related: A New FTC Rule Targets Trade Show Scammers: How It Works & Why It Matters 

How it worked: “From expanding access to programs that will help develop the industry’s future workforce to restoring visa interview wait times to pre-pandemic levels, ECA’s policy priorities have broad bipartisan support,” said Marsha Flanagan, ECA co-president and International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) president and CEO. “That’s why we are calling on Congress to take action this year on these issues that will strengthen our industry’s collective ability to drive economic growth, support job creation and empower small businesses.” 

Related: ECA Rings in 2024 With New Public Policy Agenda 

What they’re saying: “Whether you are on Capitol Hill, on the show floor or even on your phone, ECA invites you to be an advocate for the business events industry,” said ECA Vice President Tommy Goodwin. “Together, we can be the strong, unified advocacy voice of the industry and shape our future with policymakers nationwide.”

Industry leaders meet with lawmakers.

Related: Time to Go All In for Our Next Generation Workforce 

Looking back: Last year’s Legislative Action Day drew nearly 100 industry leaders from 24 states — including representatives from independent and association show organizers, exhibiting organizations, venues and destinations. During more than 100 meetings, Legislative Action Day attendees advocated three key issues: Reducing visitor visa interview wait times; helping to build the future skilled workforce; and supporting efforts to stop business impersonation fraud.

Related: ECA Legislative Action Day Attendees Make the Case for Exhibitions and Events on Capitol Hill 

Backstory: Established in 2021 during the pandemic, ECA is a coalition of professional, industry and labor associations that comprise the unified advocacy voice of the business events industry. In May, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) joined ECA as its newest alliance partner, bringing the total to nine industry organizations that support ECA. 

Deeper dive: In addition to IAEE, SISO and ICCA, ECA's partners include Experiential Designers & Producers Association (EDPA), Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA), International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), Trade Show Labor Alliance and UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.

Looking ahead: ECA has opportunities for industry leaders and advocates to stay engaged on the policy issues that matter year round. Next year’s Legislative Action Day will be held Thurs., May 29, 2025, in conjunction with the Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum, which will be held Wed., May 28, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

Main image: Industry leaders participate in the ECA's Legislative Action Day on May 30. Photo: ECA


Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE, listen to our latest podcast HERE and engage with us on LinkedIn!

Add new comment

Expert Profile
Partner Voices
One of the most iconic names on the Las Vegas Strip just got an upgrade. Mandalay Bay has everything that your business needs from a refreshed convention space designed to inspire productivity and creativity, to an impressive selection of world-class restaurants and amenities. If you're looking for a venue that's both inviting and innovative, you have to be here.   New Wave Experiences Mandalay Bay continues to invest in a new wave of enhancements both in the convention space and within the resort as a whole. New restaurant openings including Orla by Michael Mina, more