By Susan Brower, CEM
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
This week, more than 100 attendees participated in the industry’s first Exhibitions Day in Washington, D.C. and its collaborating organizations – CEIR, IAEE, EDPA, ESCA, IAVM, SISO and U.S. Travel Association – concluded its initial success and lasting impact. As with any legislative fly-in, there were key issues that were discussed with elected officials. Attendees focused primarily on the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act, a bipartisan issue that would leverage the benefits of inbound international travel to the United States to increase economic growth, create more jobs, generate additional tax revenue and boost U.S. exports. The economic contributions of the events and exhibitions industry – and in turn, the country’s competitiveness in this space – are at risk if government restrictions on travel into the U.S. are not reduced. Exhibitions also create employment opportunities for those in the traditional workforce as well as audiences outside of the traditional local workforce demographic, such as seniors, students and secondary income seekers.
JOLT’s major achievements include:
- Expanding the Visa Waiver Program beyond the current 38 countries, by updating eligibility requirements to allow more travelers from countries closely allied to the United States to travel into the country without a visa for stays of 90 days or less.
- Facilitating the use of secure remote videoconferencing technology for visa interviews, and reduce visa wait times by implementing a fee-based premium processing service for interview appointments and aim to interview applicants within 10 days of application receipt.
- Expanding the Global Entry program that expedites entry for preapproved, low-risk international travelers.
After a lively orientation with the delegations conferring and planning their scheduled day on the Hill, attendees set out to ask their elected officials to include JOLT in immigration reform and co-sponsor the bill which will positively impact the exhibitions and events industry.
CEIR research was the backbone for the key discussion points between legislators and constituents. For example, CEIR has found that there are more than 11,000 exhibitions conducted in the U.S. every year, attracting nearly 2 million exhibiting companies and 68 million business professionals to business-to-business exhibitions. Additionally, CEIR has found that attendees spend an estimated $44.8 billion at U.S. events while exhibitors spend an estimated $24.5 billion each year. CEIR has found the economic impact of the U.S. exhibitions industry to be substantial with more than $69.3 billion directly contributed to the GDP in attendee and exhibitor spending. These are just a few of the hard statistics that attendees used, and without the essential research from CEIR, Exhibitions Day would not have been as impactful as it was.
Here are compelling statistics on how exhibitions are used by organizations to drive their businesses:
Exhibitions are highly valued to address priority marketing objectives that mean business:
- Build or expand brand awareness (82 percent)
- New product or service promotions and launches (80 percent)
- Brand awareness reinforcement (86 percent)
- Promotions targeting specific business sectors (73 percent)
- Existing product or service promotions (72 percent)
Exhibitions are highly valued to address top priority sales objectives that mean business such as relationships management and engagement support with:
- Existing customers (77 percent)
- Prospective customers (80 percent)
- Key accounts (78 percent)
- Generating new sales leads (77 percent)