Julie Sullivan, CEM, CMP
Manager, Exhibition Sales
International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA)
This winter, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend Expo! Expo! on a scholarship courtesy of the Washington, DC Chapter of IAEE. As you can imagine, this news and opportunity added an extra element of excitement and anticipation for me and made the event seem all the more rewarding and memorable.
When I applied for the scholarship, I had several key goals in mind. Since it had been nearly five years since my last brief fly-in, take a CEM class, visit the exhibit hall, and fly back out ten hours later, I hoped to make this trip a total emersion experience. I wanted to begin networking and supporting IAEE on a national level, bond with my local IAEE DC Chapter community, hear about new trends in the industry, gain some new insights on multi-generational communication, and last but certainly not least, experience a new city. Like everyone, I suppose, I had pre-conceived ideas about what my experiences there would be like and what the City of Los Angeles might hold as well. In reality, my expectations were completely dashed to the rocks. My time there was everything I had hoped it would be and more. In fact, from an attendee’s perspective, I thought Expo! Expo! 2014 was the proverbial grand slam.
I went to Los Angeles to “Go & Be” many things: original, innovative, creative, and strategic as IAEE’s Expo! Expo! encouraged us to be. Upon returning home, I felt genuinely surprised and inspired by the vitality and adaptability of our industry and impressed with the thriving, rejuvenated Downtown LA area. It was a perfect pairing of meeting to destination.
As the seed of an idea from months earlier suddenly took root and began to materialize, my only remaining dilemma was deciding on what to do out of the countless options available to me during the meeting. Sticking to my initial goals, I settled on an agenda including a city-wide tour, learning how to building better relationships in our technology driven era, networking on a national and local chapter level, applauding all 257 CEM graduates, and visiting suppliers and industry friends alike on the trade show floor.
My experiences at Expo! Expo! re-confirmed for me that I’m in one of the most exciting and successful career paths. The industry is doing very well, has been doing well during the recession, and will surely continue to do so because it adjusts effectively through the ages. The proof of its strength was in the numbers announced at this year’s meeting. Not only did Expo! Expo! 2014 experience record attendance and had a record number of CMP graduates investing in its future, but the industry is producing big numbers where many others simply are not.
Making the decision to go to Expo! Expo! 2014 was a great one for many reasons. It was an opportunity for me to support the exhibitions and events industry at the national level, it stood as a testament to my level of commitment and support to our close-knit Washington, DC community, and was proof positive to that I wanted to officially stand-up and be counted. As the saying goes, “the community that stays together, thrives together” proved very true last year and I’m thankful for its support.
“Go & Be” HOPEFUL should be added to the Expo! Expo! 2014 meeting theme. The future looks very bright indeed for exhibitions and events.