People News: Flurry of New Hires Marks Busy End of Summer

August 18, 2015

Traditionally a slower time for trade shows, companies in the industry utilized their time instead hiring new talent and promoting from within before the fall kicks off a busy season again.

The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) hired Jason Means as director of membership. In his new role, Means will lead recruitment and retention programs for current and prospective ACVB members while managing the membership department.

Means brings nearly 10 years of combined hospitality and event experience to his new role.

“Jason’s knowledge and experience within the local hospitality community will be helpful as he works to retain and build our membership,” said Amy Patterson, vice president of business development and corporate events, ACVB. “This makes him a very valuable asset to our organization.”

Means most recently served as senior event manager with Hilton Atlanta. Prior to that, he worked as events manager for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where he oversaw volunteers, managed hotel relationships and supervised the hospitality program.

Shepard Expositions Services appointed Susan Hall to their executive team, filling the role of vice president of talent.

Hall brings deep knowledge in human resources, specifically staffing and recruiting, to the Shepard Team.

Previously, Hall served as the director of Human Resources at Spanx, a highly-recognizable international brand; and during the course of the past 20 years has maintained director level positions across the human resources space, including 9 years with Portman Holdings from 1998 to 2007.

In her new role at Shepard, Hall will be responsible for developing human asset strategic plan goals, implementing human resources policies and procedures, and complying with federal and state regulations related to employment and benefits.

The position will also be responsible for the well-being of all associates in connection with safety, benefits, training, performance management and career development.

“We conducted a long and in-depth interview process and Susan was a front-runner from the beginning. She is knowledge about the industry, our company and knows the important of driving customer satisfaction,” said Carl Mitchell, president, “Shepard is growing and Susan is the right person to continue to bring in the top-notch talent we pride ourselves on.”

Visit KC recently made a trio of appointments - Cori Day will assume the role of vice president of sales and services. Day brings to the tourism organization more than 16 years of experience in hospitality sales and marketing; Traci Preus was appointed to the position of Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications, bringing more than 25 years of experience in strategic marketing, public relations and advertising; and Ashley Jones assumes the role of vice president of partnerships and events, bringing with her 14 years of experience in destination management and community development organizations.

Visit Spokane is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris McKinney to the position of Director of National Accounts.

As a member of the Visit Spokane sales team, McKinney will work with meeting planners - specifically in the health, medical, scientific and engineering markets - to bring conventions and meetings to the Spokane region.

A veteran of hotel industry sales, McKinney previously worked for Marriot, Hilton and, most recently, Renaissance Seattle Hotel.   

Riverhouse Hotel & Convention Center, a full-service hotel and Central Oregon’s largest convention center, overlooking the picturesque Deschutes River, has hired Heidi Albertson as Director of national sales.

Nth Degree has strengthened its global presence by adding a new account director, Anthony Lacey, to its London office. Lacey will support European Director, Francis Mugford, and the company’s ongoing effort to expand event marketing and management services across its global portfolio.

Jason Ahart is bringing his 16 years of exhibit production experience to Olympus Group (“Olympus”) as its new COO.

Ahart’s focus as COO at Olympus will be quality initiatives and production systems, particularly Lean Manufacturing and long-term growth. As part of the executive team, Ahart will be responsible for the digital printing, sewing, purchasing, warehouse and prepress departments.

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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.