Feb 07, 2022
A slew of promotions, as well as new hires and some executive retirements, continue as the trade show industry forges ahead toward recovery. Check out all the recent appointments and transitions happening at event-related organizations throughout the U.S. and beyond. SEMA After more than three decades of service, Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) President and CEO Chris Kersting has retired. Kersting joined SEMA in 1996 to lead the organization’s Washington, D.C, office as vice president of legislative and technical affairs, later taking the helm as SEMA’s CEO in 2002 and… more
Jan 26, 2022
In February of last year, 28-year travel and tourism industry veteran Casandra Matej took the helm at Visit Orlando as the first female president and CEO in the destination marketing organization’s 37-year history. While assuming a leadership role during a global pandemic is no walk in the park, Matej accepted the challenge, focusing the organization’s energies on spurring the recovery of the powerful Orlando tourism industry, which, pre-pandemic, drew more than 75 million visitors to the region and supports approximately 41% of the local workforce. For Matej and her teams, failure was not an… more
Jan 24, 2022
The year 2022 has kicked off with a bang as event-related organizations continue their hiring and promotion frenzy, filling positions and recognizing top-performing staff with more senior titles. Take a look! Huntington Place  Becky Bixby has been appointed assistant general manager of Detroit’s Huntington Place (formerly TCF Center). Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) with 29 years of event experience leading teams in customer service training and new technology implementations, she will be responsible for all day-to-day operational aspects of the venue, including ensuring client… more
Jan 20, 2022
Former SISO Chair and retired exhibition industry icon James Bracken passed away on Jan. 18. He was 87. Bracken served as SISO’s chair in 2004, and SISO officials expressed gratitude for his service to the association and the industry over the course of his career, as well as condolences to his family and many friends and colleagues in the industry. “I was lucky enough to get to know Jim when I first became involved in SISO, and he really epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit of SISO,” said SISO CEO David Audrain. “Jim was a highly-respected industry leader and a pleasure to talk with, his… more
Jan 19, 2022
Chef Jeff Leidy is one of those lucky people who found his calling at a very young age. The consummate hospitality culinary professional began his four-decade-long career at 16, starting as a busboy in a steak and seafood house, where he quickly moved into the kitchen and fell in love with the culinary arts.   “I have been cooking professionally ever since,” Leidy said. “I like to tell people that you don’t choose to be a chef, it chooses you. I was captivated by every aspect of being a chef—having the chance to be creative and serve guests who give you immediate feedback, and the ability to… more
Jan 18, 2022
The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Foundation will once again honor and celebrate the global business events industry’s exceptional stars during this year’s PCMA Visionary Awards ceremony. The foundation has announced the 2022 Lifetime Achievement honorees, Groundbreaker Award recipient and Professional Excellence finalists.  The 2022 Visionary Awards celebration will be held March 24 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., in conjunction with the inaugural Business Events Industry Week. Created by Destinations International, the … more
Jan 14, 2022
If anyone knows a thing or two about navigating through disruptive times, it’s Brad Dean. In 2018, he was tapped to helm Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s first-ever destination marketing organization, following a series of natural and public health disasters, including Zika virus and hurricanes Irma and Maria.  Coming onboard the year after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island—along with its tourism industry—Dean quickly assembled a stellar team of more than 50 people at Discover Puerto Rico, leading them in a remarkable period of recovery and growth that boosted tourism 45% in the first 18… more
Jan 12, 2022
It goes without saying that many of us in the exhibition industry are looking toward 2022 with cautious optimism. Will this be the year that trade shows and business events truly bounce back, or will 2022 be yet another bumpy, unpredictable extension of 2021? While none of us have a crystal ball to refer to, we asked a range of industry experts what they’re hoping for and setting their sights on – both professionally and personally – in the New Year. Bob Priest-Heck, CEO, Freeman: This past year has brought on so many learnings, innovation and things we can strive for in 2022. From a… more
Jan 06, 2022
On Dec. 28, Jeff Guaracino, president and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA, passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 48 years old.  A Philadelphia native and passionate tourism leader, Guaracino served two stints at VISIT PHILADELPHIA, first as director of communications and vice president of communications from 2001 to 2012, and then as president and CEO in 2018.  According to VISIT PHILADELPHIA officials, under Guaracino’s leadership, VISIT PHILADELPHIA continued driving leisure tourism throughout the pandemic with omni-channel marketing efforts. These included Philly Live Weekends, a… more
Jan 10, 2022
As 2022 begins, new hires and promotions continue to take place throughout the exhibitions industry. Check out who’s moving in and moving up at event-related organizations across the U.S. Smithbucklin   Association management company Smithbucklin has made some recent changes to its executive leadership team, effective Jan. 1. Don Neal, founder and CEO of 360 Live Media, an experience design, marketing and event-focused agency that was acquired by Smithbucklin in 2018, will assume the newly created role of chief strategy officer, Smithbucklin. In his new role, Neal will focus on growth… more

Partner Voices

Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce the approval of a 2.5 million square-foot convention center with 800,000 square feet of exhibit space and 300,000 square feet of breakout area, including 160,000 square feet of ballroom. “This news is a game changer for Dallas and will put our city on the map as the preeminent large-city convention and meeting destination in the nation,” said Craig Davis, Visit Dallas President & CEO.