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SHOP to SHOWFLOOR I&D and Event Labor

Industry Bands Together For Global Exhibitions Day By Cynthya Porter

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t would not be an exaggeration to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the exhibition and event industry to its knees, but if not for the activism of Global Exhibitions Day and its U.S.-based counterpart Exhibitions Mean Business, governments around the world might never understand how important to the economy the tradeshow, meetings and events industry actually is. For seven years, people representing the various aspects of the tradeshow, meetings and events sector have descended on government leaders for straight talk about what they can do to make the industry stronger and the lives of millions of people better as a result. This year, the event occurred virtually and the list of requests for government leaders was long, as meetings and events of every kind

are at a full stop around the world and the ramifications of that are almost too gargantuan to calculate. Globally, the exhibition industry alone employs an estimated 3.2 million people directly and indirectly—from coat check people to exhibit fabricators to the local flower shop and linen service that make their living providing services to the 32,000 or so exhibitions that happen annually. Also, 4.5 million exhibiting companies and more than 300 million visitors flood destinations with money, supporting restaurants, hotel maids, rental car business and on and on and on. However, for as devastating as the pandemic has been on the exhibition world in particular, that fact doesn’t even appear on the radar of many legislators because the exhibition and event world operates in something of a

bubble that you can only see when you work within it. For its part in advocacy, GED outfitted a microsite with an extensive volume of resources to help companies reach out to their regional or national officials to convey how important the industry is to the world’s economy as well as the economies of local communities. With a wide array of info graphs that anyone could download, GED depicted how exhibitions create a more sustainable world by reducing the number of business trips necessary, improve destinations by promoting tourism, facilitate networking relationships that spawn growth and innovation, enable world trade and more. To participate, companies around the world could use their imaginations for ways to

attract attention. Promotional videos, meetings with policy makers, webinars, hybrid events, bingo, virtual running parties—according to GED’s recap, people and organizations from at least 114 countries and regions joined in the initiative. In the U.S., Exhibitions Means Business, which coincides with Global Exhibition Day in early June, consists of more than 100 movers and shakers from all corners of the industry meeting in Washington, D.C., to hold meetings with lawmakers, testify in committees, and create visibility for the exhibitions industry. Other companies in the industry that did not attend the event might post something in support of the effort on social media or their website, but the gathering in Washington, D.C., has always been the main activity. This year’s circumstances meant there would be no march up the steps of the Capitol, so organizers went back to the drawing board to reimagine how they could take a stand. Undaunted by the fact that the activities would need to occur on a digital platform— which Exhibitions Means Business had never done—the group created a day-long digital session that included meetings with legislators, small group breakout rooms, presentations by exhibition industry leaders and even break rooms that featured live music, yoga, meditation and several other themes. The day was a resounding success, with 1,600 people registering to attend—far more than the number that could participate when the event was at the Capitol. Their enthusiasm was

34 July/August 2020 Exhibit City News

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Exhibit City News - July/August 2020  

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