News and Updates

Carrollton, TX – February 27, 2023 – Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (‘ESCA’) partners with Orange County Convention Center (‘OCCC’) with the spirit to continue to enhance the security and safety of the OCCC venue.

The ESCA Badge is a national Worker Identification & Security Program that allows entry into participating facilities by the workers who have been registered with the Program. Nationwide, 20 venues are part of the Program, and the list is growing each year.

Larry Arnaudet, Executive Director of ESCA: “We are excited to bring The ESCA Badge to the OCCC. This rollout will allow for additional security measures at the convention center and increased consistency and ease of use for the 19,000+ event industry personnel already registered in the ESCA Badge program.

“The OCCC continues to prioritize the safety and security of our employees, customers, and service contractors,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “To uphold this commitment, we have partnered with ESCA to implement its Worker Identification & Security Badge Program, The ESCA Badge, for all vendor and contract staff. We are confident that this partnership will further assist the Center in delivering a safe and secure experience for all of our contractors, suppliers, and vendors.”

ESCA and the OCCC are very excited about this partnership and continuing the core mission of the Program. It is known that the Program has helped fill the void between the event and building security, which helps the facilities participating in the Program for future growth.

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This week, ECA was pleased to announce that PCMA has joined ECA as our 10th alliance partner!

  •  ECA’s view: “I’m delighted to welcome PCMA and its community to business events strategists to ECA, which will help the alliance further amplify its important advocacy message to the decision makers that matter,” said Hervé Sedky, Chair of the ECA board of directors.
  •  PMCA’s view: “We know that if we expect our industry to transform, we need to lead that transformation, and ECA provides a critical platform to do so,” said Sherrif Karamat, CAE, President and CEO, PCMA and the Corporate Event Marketing Association.

Go deeper: Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance Welcomes PCMA as its Newest Alliance Partner.


In Kentucky, on-the-ground work is accelerating to clarify the state’s new sales tax on meeting space.

  •  Where it stands: Legislative language has been drafted that would exempt event organizers from charging sales tax to their exhibitors.
  •  What’s next: Work will continue in the Kentucky legislature on securing a technical correction to the sales tax law until it adjourns on March 30.

ECA thanks Louisville Tourism and the Kentucky Travel Industry Association for their leadership in Frankfort on behalf of the entire face-to-face business events industry!


In China, visa appointment wait times for would-be U.S. visitors remain within a reasonable range. Beijing 30 days (no change)


22 days (-6 days)


22 days (+1 days)


2 days (no change)


Despite this good news, wait times remain unacceptable in many countries including Brazil (average wait: 425 days), Mexico (444 days), India (626 days), and Columbia (872 days).

  •  In response, 44 U.S. mayors sent a letter to Secretary of State Blinken this week calling on the State Department to take concrete steps to reduce wait times.
  •  ASAE also put out a call for stories on the impact of wait times on association meetings, and the Hispanic Leadership Fund wrote a supporting op-ed in The Hill.


  •  ECA posted about the importance of Small Business Administration modernization, which included a humorous video featuring *NSYNC’s Lance Bass.
  •  MeetingsNet previewed ECA Legislative Action Day, which will take place this year on June 1.
  •  Bloomberg cited the CEIR in its article about the ongoing return of conventions and trade shows.

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As the unified advocacy voice of the face-to-face business events industry, the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA) works to ensure that policymakers understand and support the important role that our events have on driving economic growth, supporting job creation, empowering small businesses, and helping to solve our most urgent societal challenges. ECA’s 2023 public policy priorities will support the advancement of the industry by working to ensure a favorable operating environment, the full return of international exhibitors and attendees, a strong future workforce, and a more sustainable industry in the future.

Ensure a favorable operating environment for the industry going forward

  • Prevent anti-growth state-level taxation of our industry, including new exhibition services and digital ad taxes
  • Bring back communicable disease coverage to event cancellation insurance
  • Support industry small businesses on their continued road to full recovery from the pandemic
  • Reduce the impact of inflation on industry stakeholders
  • Decrease supply chain uncertainty and unfair barriers to the resources required to meet customer needs
  • Guarantee a welcoming environment for events in cities and states nationwide (no Covid-related closures, no political boycotts or restrictions, and safe local cities)
  • Increase music licensing transparency around who owns what, where the money goes, and billing practices
  • Establish privacy protections for consumers while allowing businesses to continue to grow and innovate
  • Help the industry better afford health and safety-related improvements and preparation for future pandemics

Fully welcome international exhibitors and attendees back to the U.S.

  • Restore visa operations to pre-pandemic levels while making visa processing more modern and efficient (videoconferencing, group processing, VWP expansion)
  •  Prevent against future Covid-related travel restrictions
  •  Streamline and harmonize travel policies between the U.S. and key international partners and regions
  •  Additional federal support for attracting international events to the U.S.
  •  Ensure favorable global standardization efforts

Support industry efforts to address sustainability and climate change

  • Encourage smart decarbonization efforts by governments while ensuring the right balance between environmental aims and industry feasibility
  •  Champion industry-led approaches to create a more sustainable and socially-impactful industry going forward
  •  Support the direction of infrastructure and clean energy funding to industry stakeholders

Promote government involvement in developing the industry’s future workforce

  • Support government policy and programs to attract, train, and retain the industry’s next generation workforce

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On November 8, voters will go to the polls to decide which party will control Congress in 2023.

  • Why it matters: The midterm election outcomes will also determine the size and scope of Congress’ “lame duck” session, which begins in mid-November.
  • ECA wants small business relief on the agenda, including repurposing $6 billion in frozen SBA funds and restoring the Q4 2021 ERTC benefit.

Go deeper: Brownstein (ECA’s lobbying firm) recently hosted an expert panel discussion on what to expect after the midterms. You can listen to excerpts of that conversation here.


Next week, the face-to-face business events industry will be front and center at COP27 in Egypt.

  • What’s new: Net Zero Carbon Events, an industry initiative to address climate change, will launch its roadmap for the events industry on November 11, Decarbonization Day.
  • 400 organizations have already signed the Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge!

In September, a task force released a report identifying key areas of focus for the industry’s transition towards a more sustainable, low carbon economy in the U.S. and Canada.

Sign up: You can register to watch the official roadmap release event online here.


Last week, a court case about concert royalties kicked off that will shape the future of music licensing.

  • The big picture: In BMI vs. North American Concert Promoters Association, BMI is asking for a 7x increase in royalties and a piece of unrelated concert revenue streams (e.g., VIP packages).
  • The bottom line: If BMI wins, music PROs are likely come after convention centers even more vigorously seeking a cut of unrelated venue income like parking fees and concession sales.

ECA strongly opposes this effort and supports the MIC Coalition’s work to increase music licensing transparency around (1) who owns what, (2) where the money goes, and (3) PRO billing practices.

Read more: Check out the latest MIC Coalition blog post on the complex and opaque music licensing system here.


Earlier this week, TSNN highlighted ECA’s advocacy efforts to address the unacceptable delays that international exhibitors and attendees face in obtaining a visa to come to the U.S. for business events.

  • Go deeper: You can read the full article here.

Bottom line: The restoration of visa interview and processing capacity to pre-pandemic levels remains a top priority for ECA.

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Philadelphia Carpenters Union Lead Trade Show Industry with Customer Service Training for Members

June 22, 2022  

For Immediate Release:

Philadelphia, PA (May 21, 2022) –Philadelphia trade show carpenters of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters participated in a Customer Service Training program facilitated by Bob Jacobson Senior Program Director United Brotherhood of Carpenters International Training Center Las Vegas, NV

120 carpenters gathered early Saturday morning for a four-hour Customer Service Training program. The training, an encouraged session by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC), teaches Union Carpenters the value of displaying exceptional customer service while working on trade show projects.

This was the second year in a row the EAS Carpenters provided this training for interested members in Philadelphia.

“We value having our members trained in customer service and this opportunity allows them to experience top training and expertise relevant to our industry,” explained Robert Tarby, Director of Trade Shows and Special Assignments of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.

“The Carpenters Union have a reputation for their highly skilled craftsmanship,” said Mayor Jim Kenney who spoke to the carpenters in attendance, “They are on the right track in customer service initiatives and are doing a great job at this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show.”

“You know you’re doing something right when your guest asks you, how can you help us deliver this message to our staff” explained Anthony Squilla, Trade Show Council Representative.

Many invited guests attended, witnessing the Philadelphia local carpenters being educated on how to deliver world class customer service. In attendance were many elected state and local officials, trade show general contractors, exhibitor appointed contractors, along with The National Trade Show Alliance and ESCA (Exhibitor Service Contractors Association)

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