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  • Messe Frankfurt acquired the Thailand Lighting Fair and Thailand Building Fair. Messe has been with the shows since they launched in 2015.
  • JW Marriott will open the 4,000-room Drew Las Vegas in 2020 at the site of the stalled Fontainebleau hotel project on Las Vegas Blvd.
  • Denver OK’d contracts for a $233-million expansion featuring an 80,000-sf rooftop ballroom and terrace at the Colorado Convention Center.
  • The latest numbers rank NAMM’s 2018 show the largest in its 117-year history with more than 115,000 attendees and nearly 2,000 exhibitors.
  • The deadline for nominations for Trade Show Executive’s Trailblazers Awards has been extended to March 16. Got to TSE Events for info.
  • International Assoc. of Amusement Parks and Attractions President and CEO Paul Noland has resigned. CFO Hal McEvoy steps in temporarily.
  • The Aria Resort & Casino $170-million expansion in Las Vegas adds 200,000 sf of flex meeting space, raising total space to 500,000 sf.
  • Gary Musich announced his retirement as Vice President of Sales for Meet AC effective March 2 after 25 years representing Atlantic City.
  • The San Diego Convention Center named ON Site, a GES company, its exclusive sound and rigging vendor and preferred audio visual provider.
  • Board members of UK-based UBM have accepted an offer from Informa for a reported 3.8 billion pounds ($5.3 billion).

Federal Travel Restrictions for Conferences and Events Eased by President Obama

Sandi Cain
, News Editor
January 10, 2017
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Washington, D.C – Just a week before he leaves office, President Obama has given federal employees a break by reducing the restrictions governing attendance at conferences and events that were imposed in 2012 when federal budgets were slashed.

That’s good news for trade show, convention and conference organizers who bemoaned lost attendance, revenue and educational opportunities under the stringent conditions imposed nearly five years ago. 

The updated guidelines make three major changes to the conference approval process, according to Chris Vest, Director of Public Policy for ASAE. Those changes are:

  • A focus on approval and oversight for agency-sponsored or hosted conferences, not outside conferences, allowing internal flexibility for approval.
  • An allowance for pre-approval of known recurring conferences—including those NOT sponsored by the government, which will enable the agencies to take advantage of early registration discounts and advance travel arrangements.
  • Not extending funding caps previously imposed. Those caps expired at the end of the 2016 fiscal year in September.

Government agencies will be given new accountability standards in place of the previous restrictions. Those include a requirement to publish information about conference attendance on agency websites whenever the overall cost is more than $100,000. Other details about such conferences also will be required on the websites.

In an article by Vest to ASAE members, he said the updated memo “reinforces the positive role of face-to-face attendance at conferences and modifies the conference approval process for federal agencies, with the goal of reducing bureaucracy and maintaining fiscal responsibility.” 

The rules initially were put into play after an outcry over a General Services Administration conference in Las Vegas in 2012 that cost more than $800,000 for 300 employees to attend at a time when sequestration and federal budget cuts were more the norm. The savings were estimated to be 25% below previous expenditures. But critics said they interfered with the ability of many federal employees to do their jobs, according to the article by Vest. Those claims were acknowledged in the memo easing restrictions.

“These are words of encouragement to travel for professional growth and education,” said John Graham, President and CEO at ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership.

Reach Chris Vest at (202) 626-2798 or; John Graham at (202) 626-2741 or


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