Weekly Insights: Will the New IAEE & ESCA Security Initiative Create Real Change?

Graphic: © Digital Juice

Graphic: © Digital Juice

Security at trade shows and conventions has been a topic of discussion since 9/11, yet it never seems to gain much traction. Sure, the conversation heightens after incidents like the Boston Marathon (see TSI post from April 2013), but the emphasis always seems to be short-lived.

The recent UFI Global Exhibition Barometer reported that some shows are making changes, such as enhanced screening of attendees and exhibitors or checking registrants’ names against law enforcement lists. But 42 percent of survey respondents said no additional measures have been taken.

While some convention centers have also made changes, there really hasn’t been an industry-wide initiative. But the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA) are now working together to change that. Both organizations are supporting the creation of national standards in compliance with the Department of Homeland Security’s Safety Act Office.

With this initiative, convention centers, show organizers, and service providers can all come together to share their best practices for preventing and preparing for security issues.

Will this finally be the catalyst for real change in the industry? Let’s hope so. No one wants to see the next big headline be about a mass casualty at a convention center filled with thousands of attendees and exhibitors. I just hope the changes are implemented before that happens.

(To read previous TSI posts about safety and security measures, click here.)

UPDATE: Here’s a short video interview with Michael Dominguez from MGM Resorts, talking about convention security with CNTV.




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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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