ExpoChat – #ExhibitionsDay 2015 and The Importance of Advocacy
“If we expect change, we must do something to affect change.” Those were the words of Megan Tanel, Vice President of Exhibitions & Events for AEM and Chairperson of IAEE, as she discussed the importance of advocacy in the exhibitions and events industry.
The exhibitions and events industry is a critical economic driver, both locally and globally, generating revenue for local businesses, creating employment opportunities and driving business connections and sales for people every year. As members of the exhibitions and events industry, we are aware of the value our industry provides, but it is now time to extend that awareness to our Members of Congress and the general public they represent.
On June 9, 2015, members of the exhibitions and events industry will meet with Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill to discuss the most important issues affecting our industry. As valued members of this industry, we want to hear from you about the legislative and regulatory issues that have an impact on your ability to do business. Together we can include your concerns in our conversations and show legislators the vast amount of industries that are directly impacted by exhibitions and events across the United States.
Follow the hashtag #ExpoChat on Twitter today starting at 2 p.m. CST and take part in the discussion with us!
Q1. Has your organization/company been impacted by government legislation/regulation of exhibitions and events in any way?
Q2. How can we, as an industry, do better to promote the economic value of exhibitions and events?
Q3. What are some examples of efforts you have taken to promote the value of the exhibitions and events industry?
Q4. June 9th is #ExhibitionsDay. What is the one thing you would like members of Congress to know about our industry?
Q5. What pieces of legislation are you most concerned will have a negative impact on your company/organization?
Q6. Are you familiar with the JOLT Act and how it can help the exhibitions industry?
Q7. Are you familiar with the Travel Promotion Authority and how it supports the exhibitions industry?
Q8. Are you familiar with Open Skies and how it helps promote business and leisure travel?
Q9. Do government agencies or employees represent an important audience for your events?
Q10. If you cannot attend #ExhibitionsDay, what are some ways you can participate and advocate for our industry?
My Mommy Does Shows in Vegas
By: Megan Tanel, Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)
As a title, this comes across as a bit provocative.
It’s meant to draw the reader in thinking it’s another sad story about a child who is living through neglect while being raised by a woman practicing what some believe is the oldest profession in the world. In reality, it does reflect an historic profession but probably not the one you were thinking of: exhibitions or more commonly known as trade shows.
This quote came from my daughter who was 5 at the time and gave an honest answer to her kindergarten teacher when questioned why the little girl’s mom was always traveling. And in my daughter’s understanding, there was no easy way to explain a tradeshow other than she knew it was a show and it was in Vegas.
The origins of trade shows can be traced back thousands of years. They started as an opportunity for people to trade goods for necessities. If you look at commerce today, it is all about connecting a buyer with a seller for a transaction to take place that satisfies both of their needs. The great value with tradeshows has been the ability to review your options, test drive the products or discuss the technology with experts in advance of purchase.
More recently, I have read more about the negative side of tradeshows: they are expensive, a waste of time and offer no value. But instead, I question the source of these comments. Is the source someone who has created a plan around their own participation in a tradeshow with measurable results and clear objectives? Or is the source someone who put an expense budget together with no clear objectives or way to track results?
My guess is the latter, and to this I roll my eyes and think “ignorance.”
I was lucky enough to stumble into the tradeshow industry while in college on an internship. I never knew of its existence, but now that I look back, I think the closest I could have imagined it to was the annual Folk Fair in downtown Milwaukee, WI. The folk fair had maybe 100 tables or booths set up promoting the understanding of different cultures through characters dressed in costume, ethnic food samples from the “exhibitors” homeland and a lot of eclectic dancing and music. Now I understand the goal of that event was to create awareness and with awareness tolerance as well as knowledge of others and their background.
The tradeshows I am involved in are more about commerce – selling or promoting a brand to eventually sell product or hopefully sell some product or take orders on the show floor. Sounds boring to some. But again I roll my eyes and think “neophyte.”
If you’ve never stepped foot on the floor of a quality tradeshow then you don’t understand its draw. The love I have of my profession stems from the basic human necessity of human contact. There is no better way to establish or build upon a relationship than face to face interaction. So much is lacking in our future generations related to their ability (or lack thereof) to socialize, to connect and to simply hold a conversation. I find myself better able to come to a conclusion about a product or service I am interesting in when I’ve had the ability to get to know the company’s brand ambassadors, talk to the product experts about the benefits only this company can provide to me, and share a story about something we share in common which builds my faith in the company and its brand.
I’m proud to be a member of the tradeshow community. I cringe that my industry has to fight so hard for the respect it deserves. I know the value of what I bring to my tradeshow buyers and sellers and continue to work hard to increase their value at every event. And yes, I do shows in Vegas. I also do shows in Louisville, Nashville, Santiago (Chile), Johannesburg (South Africa) Delhi (India). I support hundreds of brands around the world by providing them with a marketplace to sell their products to qualified buyers.
And I know that I wouldn’t want to do anything else.