Meeting Mentor Magazine

September 2023

Industry Coalition to Create Guidelines
for Security at U.S. Convention Centers

With public venues the target of several terrorist attacks at home and abroad, a coalition of industry associations have come together to form the Exhibitions and Meetings Safety and Security Initiative  (EMSSI). The coalition was formally launched in October at IMEX America, which drew more 10,000 attendees representing the incentive travel, meetings and events industry to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“The issue of security has become the most important issue to our industry,” said Ray Bloom, chairman of The IMEX Group. “We know bringing people together is an extraordinary phenomenon. Unfortunately, there are those in the world who seek to disrupt what we do.”

EMSSI is led by the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA). More than two dozen other industry groups are aligned as supporting organizations. These include Meeting Professionals International, the American Society of Association Executives, Destination Marketing Association International, the U.S. Travel Association, Freeman and GES.

The goal of the initiative is to formulate national event security guidelines and standards for convention facilities that will be recognized by the Safety Act Office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS). Once approved, they will be incorporated into an industry-supported application to the USDHS Safety Act Accreditation/Certification program. This new designation for venues will be administered by IAVM.

According to IAEE President and CEO David Dubois, CEM, CAE, the initiative is being fast-tracked and has a target date for completion of March 2017. Dubois is co-chairman of the coalition, along with Brad Mayne (IAVM) and Larry Arnaudet (ESCA). Dubois expects more organizations to join the list of supporting groups, noting that “their support and communication efforts are critical to the success of the initiative.” He said EMSSI has a fund-raising goal of $250,000 to support the work involved in creating the guidelines.

“The reason we are coming together now is to enhance what is already in place and to be proactive, instead of reactive, in the new reality of the world we live in today,” Dubois said.
Regina McGee

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