People News: Destinations International, IAEE, Offprice and More Make Hires

September 10, 2019

Summer’s coming to a close, the kids are back in school, and companies in the meetings and hospitality space are ramping up hires for the last third of the year. Take a look:

The Offprice Show, the leading U.S. retail trade event, announced two new senior appointments last month. Tricia Barglof, formerly U.S. director, is now executive director of Offprice, while current CEO Stephen Krogulski is now director of business development. The announcement was made the week of the 50th edition of the biannual show, which is produced by Tarsus Group.

Lindsay Berezan

Lindsay Berezan has returned to ConvExx, a Las Vegas-based trade show and consumer event producer, as meetings and events director. She previously served as show coordinator for ConvExx, and most recently spent two years with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. 

Destinations International has brought on Rori Ferensic as senior director of education. She began her new role Aug. 12 after most recently serving as director of education and credentialing for the National Automatic Merchandising Association. Also at DI, Caitlyn Blizzard was promoted to vice president of communications after serving as director of communications since May 2017. 

Kim Willis has joined tfconnect, based in the UK. She has deep experience in the exhibition industry as a senior executive, working in the Middle East in various roles in Dubai and Bahrain. In her new role, she will assist the team in growing their database of clients to include more Indian, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian exhibition industry clients.

360 Live Media, a Washington, D.C.-based experience design and marketing agency for associations, added Jack Macleod to the team in the newly created role of chief growth officer. Most recently serving as publisher and chief revenue officer at Inside Higher Ed, Macleod will focus on helping association accelerating growth and increasing performance of their organizations.

Ron Pellerine

Ron Pellerine has been appointed general manager of Metro Toronto Convention Centre. He was most recently GM at Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto, and will officially begin his new role on Sept. 16.

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events has brought on Anja Loetscher as an international consultant to assist the partner relations team in global growth. She has more than two decades of experience in the hospitality industry, including helping to launch the Geneva (Switzerland) Convention Bureau in 2007.

Raleigh (N.C.) Convention Center has added two new team members: Brian Clark is director of operations, most recently serving as assistant stadium event manager at Rentschler Stadium in Connecticut; and Ryan Bonifas is director of events, having held similar roles with Fair Park in Dallas and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

Cloud-based association management software company MemberSuite appointed Marcus Underwood chief operating officer on Aug. 22. He brings nearly 30 years of experience in growing digital businesses to his new role and was most recently COO and chief information officer of Naylor Association Solutions.

Pholeta Alexander

Atlanta CVB promoted four team members last month. Pholeta Alexander is now vice president of technology and facilities; Sheretha Bell is brand vice president; Kristin Delahunt is vice president of convention services and Cynthia Mokotoff is vice president of human resources.

Louisville Tourism had several new sales department hires this summer. Sarah Underwood and Ally Crain are convention sales assistants, both coming from Louisville hotels; while Steven Cabezas is small meetings manager, handling group bookings of 300 or less rooms on peak.

St. Charles, Mo.-based Milestone Equipment Holdings, a transportation equipment leasing company, hired Josh King, Brian Tyrrell and Ronnie Hynes in late August to continue driving growth of the company’s mobile warehousing and storage trailer division launched in December 2018.

Justine Evans joined UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, as marketing and communications manager. She takes over for Monika Fourneaux-Ceskova, who relocated to Dubai.

Visit Spokane hired Kyle Minor as director of national accounts on Sept. 3. Prior to this new role, he worked as senior manager of citywide convention sales at Destination Cleveland.

Brian Baker

Atlanta-based full-service exhibit house Exhibitus has brought on Brian Baker as partner and vice president of creative and strategy. He brings more than 25 years of experience to his new role and was most recently vice president at Highmark TechSystems.

International Market Centers in Las Vegas has several changes to its Las Vegas market trade show leasing team. Elizabeth Moss, now director of trade show sales, will oversee the Home, Design Home and Discoveries: The Antique Vintage Marketplace destinations. In addition, Priscila Gilburg, executive director of trade show sales, will manage the Gift and Design Lifestyle destinations; Michelle Karol, director of trade show sales, will handle the Handmade and Cash & Carry destinations; and Jenna Henderson is the department coordinator for tradeshows in Las Vegas.

Carlos de Sebastian is now director of association relations in Latin America for MCI Group. He was most recently managing director with Kenes Group Spain and LATAM, Tilesa Kenes Spain, and will be based in MCI’s Buenos Aires office.

The Kentucky International Convention Center has welcomed Blake Henryas its new general manager. Henry most recently served as the general manager of the Cross Insurance Center Arena and Convention Center Complex in Bangor, ME. An industry veteran, he has more than 20 years of experience leading major convention, sporting and entertainment facilities across the country from Los Angeles to Owensboro, Kentucky to New York City.

Dana Kramer

Dana (Collins) Krameris now senior development manager of SportsPITTSBURGH.In her new role, Kramer is responsible for promoting Pittsburgh to sports event and meeting planners. With more than 13 years of hospitality, events and sales experience, she most recently served as sales manager for the Omni William Penn Hotel where she oversaw the corporate and collegiate sports markets, including multiple 2018 NCAA events.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.