ECA and IFES Partner On Global Education and Advocacy

November 14, 2023

The Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA) and International Federation of Exhibition and Event Services (IFES) are partnering to collaborate on educational efforts, issue and policy forums, advocacy support and other joint opportunities to serve the needs of the broader community.

Based in Washington, DC, ECA is a coalition of professional, industry and labor organizations dedicated to the advancement of the face-to-face business events industry while IFES, based in Brussels, is a global association with national associations and individual member companies, active in the design, conception, production and services used at exhibitions.

IFES President Phillipe Beille, who is also president of modular exhibition and display company DUO, said, “Together, we will raise awareness of the exhibition and events industry through a single, powerful voice. At IFES, we believe in the strength of working together and recognize that partnerships like this one can help more people understand how valuable our industry is. We're looking forward to what this partnership will bring and how it will help us make a bigger impact.”

ECA Vice President Tommy Goodwin said that ECA is looking forward to working with IFES and its international members to share best practices and identify solutions that could be brought to policymakers in support of the industry’s advancement in the U.S. and globally.

“From advancing sustainability and attracting our next-generation workforce to harnessing new technology and making international commerce more seamless, the challenges facing the business events industry are global in nature and will require global solutions,” Goodwin said.

IFES Executive Director Uta Goretzky added, “Knowing how fruitful the cooperation with EEIA (European Exhibition Industry Alliance) is, where all European exhibitions bodies are aligned, we are looking forward to working together on advocacy, as well as on practical issues in our day-to-day business with ECA in the American market. Working together will strengthen our voice and help to share knowledge.”  

ECA's Tommy Goodwin

Deeper Dive: Q&A with Tommy Goodwin and Uta Goretzky

How did this partnership come about?

Goodwin: ECA was thrilled to welcome IFES members to ECA Legislative Action Day in Washington, DC last June. From there, we had some conversations this summer and fall about how we might work together going forward. It became clear that the unique missions, geographic areas of strength and offerings of IFES and ECA opened up many great opportunities to collaborate on shared challenges like workforce and sustainability issues. In addition, IFES was a natural partner since they already had established partnerships with IAEE and UFI, both of which are ECA alliance partners.




How many partnerships does ECA have like this one?

Goodwin: ECA is a partnership of leading professional, industry and labor organizations, both in the U.S. and around the world. That means that we look at everything we do from a partnership lens. ECA has our alliance partners (what we call our association members), but we also work in partnership and collaboration on shared policy priorities with organizations like the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and support the industry’s advocacy efforts in Brussels through the European Exhibition Industry Alliance. ECA strongly believes that the future of our industry calls for more collaboration, not less, so we are always open to partnership opportunities that support the industry while advancing our advocacy mission.


IFES' Uta Goretzky

How many partnerships does IFA have like this one?

Goretzky: As a global network of associations and companies, IFES is primarily partnership-focused. Our trust-based member partnerships are at the heart of IFES’ success, enabling us to work in a uniquely sustainable way, reducing our carbon footprint by “working local, globally.” IFES represents, promotes and supports the business interests of its members by enhancing international collaboration and helping members to share ideas and knowledge on how to best serve their clients, partnering with like-minded organizations and associations wherever we see opportunities for mutual benefit. We work closely with our 14 association members and EDPA on shared industry challenges and to drive global initiatives like sustainability, digitization and youth development. A partnership with ECA strongly supports us on an advocacy level and strengthens the industry overall. Running our office together with EEIA and JMIC in Brussels also gives us a great collaborative hub.


How many members does IFES have?

Goretzky: We have around 300 members across 42 countries and are currently growing fast, particularly in Asia and the Americas. 


Will you elaborate on how you plan to collaborate on educational efforts, issue and policy forums, advocacy support and other joint opportunities to serve the needs of the broader community? What’s first on your partnership agenda?

Goodwin: Let me answer these together because (to me, anyhow!) they are closely intertwined. It is vital that ECA knows what’s happening at business events across the country and around the world. Otherwise, how would we be able to and advocate for solutions to the challenges that our stakeholders experience on the ground every day? We rely on first-hand information on evolving customer expectations, what policymakers are exploring and how the industry is evolving to help us propose relevant policy solutions. 

Take an issue like workforce training and skills development. This is a truly global challenge, and it will require global collaboration to identify best practices and solutions to solve it. IFES members across the globe are well-positioned to share their experiences with ECA’s alliance partners (and vice versa) to help surface what’s working and what might be coming down the line. I think of other big topics like data privacy, international travel and commerce restrictions and decarbonization through the same lens.

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