Nearly 100 U.S. show organizers met Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, last week, in a unified effort to advocate for the face-to-face industry.

Backed by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and several other industry organizations, the inaugural Exhibitions Day brought 98 show organizers from 18 states to meet with sitting members of the Senate and House of Representatives and their respective staffs.

There have been several implications for all event planners and trade shows – fairs exhibitors. Let’s see some of them:

1. The Jobs Originating through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act would expand the existing Visa Waiver Program, which lessens short-term stay travel burdens between the U.S. and 38 other countries. Proposed changes would allow several countries to join that list, including Brazil, Israel and Poland. More than 116,000 would-be participants—78,400 attendees and 37,900 exhibitors—in U.S. exhibitions were unable to attend in 2013 because of current restrictions, according to Consensus Research.

2. A more deeply-charged issue, government employee attendance at events, was also chief among the concerns to be discussed in Washington, D.C. In the wake of the General Services Administration (GSA) conference scandal in early 2012, the White House’s decree to reduce non-essential travel by 30-percent has had ripple effects across the events industry. (Our ACE-ST potential client George has often cited this issue as to the decline of his live construction/military shows)

3. The JOLT Act currently has about 160 supporters in the House and is in need of about 16 more, primarily from Republican Congressmen, according to Patricia Rojas-Ungar, vice president of government relations for the U.S. Travel Association (USTA). Its ties to comprehensive immigration reform proposals have threatened to politicize the issue however. (Our most recent client, the GLBT Travel Expo, was found through this organization!)

Overall, traveling into the US for exhibits can be a big deal with wide-ranging political + monetary issues that organizers are concerned about.

Good for virtual events as they allow unlimited + unobstructed participation.