Straight Talk with Yancy Weinrich, Chief Growth Officer, Reed Exhibitions U.S.
While we at TSNN have been working hard to provide a balanced view of how the trade show industry has been faring during COVID-19 — highlighting the positive alongside the negative news — we also believe that much can be learned from our industry leaders during this challenging time. That’s why we’ve launched “Straight Talk,” a new interview series that will explore both the business and human side of the pandemic through the experiences and guidance of event industry executives.
Like most exhibition industry professionals these days, Yancy Weinrich has been doing her best to adjust and adapt to the “new normal” of personal and professional disruption. While it’s been hard to watch how the pandemic has impacted her colleagues and industry, there have been some recent bright spots, she says. Two months ago, Weinrich was promoted from chief operating officer to chief growth officer at Reed Exhibitions U.S., a newly created role that includes overseeing sales, marketing, digital and activations for more than 25 B2B trade shows and events including JCK, PGA, Vision Expo, Interphex, G2E and ISC. TSNN checked in with this passionate 16-year industry veteran to find out how she and her company have been weathering 2020, whether she thinks virtual events are here to stay and what she is most looking forward to post-pandemic.
What is the biggest change your company has had to navigate during this challenging time?
When we shut down the office in mid-March, we couldn’t imagine that we would be affected for this long by the pandemic. Like most organizations, the biggest change we have made is our pivot to virtual and digital connections and these offerings for our customers. We had long thought about this direction as part of our strategy, but to do it this quickly has created a start-up mode environment for our business. It’s presented great opportunities for our people to stretch in ways they haven’t thought about in the past.
How do you think the industry will be most changed going forward?
The good news is our customers want to be together in-person and are looking forward to having our physical events come back. When they do, our belief is that they will come back stronger. That doesn’t necessarily mean larger, but stronger, as those who travel to our events will have a renewed sense of energy and purpose to be there and be together. That said, there will be a new layer of digital and virtual layered on top of our physical events, and for some industries that have been completely disrupted there will be new opportunities for adjacencies, new segments and new audience types.
Virtual – here to stay, or a stop gap until live events return?
Here to stay. Imagine a world like our personal retail experiences now – you can shop or source, in-person, online and at any time of the day or night. This will be a normal part of our events and brands. Content will become that more important, and owning the brand space in the ecosystem of year-round will be critical. Virtual also allows for customers and organizers to have access to new data and information, which can be used to enhance the in-person experience and productivity for event attendees.
What have you learned most about yourself during the pandemic?
That I am adaptable and embrace change. I also learned that being at a desk every day doesn’t suit my personality. I love the get-up-and-go, creating events that come to life, and the hustle and bustle of our trade show life. I miss our customers and our partners, and crave being with them again when we are able to.
And how about your teams?
That they can do more than they ever thought they could. They have the ability to think differently, work differently in remote environments, be empathetic with their colleagues and are resilient. I’ve been so proud of their creativity and how they have reimagined the show experience during these times.
What self-care practices have been key for your mental health this year and why?
I can’t sit still, so being home/on the ground for so many months has given me time to think about what is important to me. This pandemic is a roller coaster and every day we are hostages to the news media, and I can’t lie – some days have been hard! But, I have found new outlets. I’ve learned to work out at home (I bought a Mirror), taken up tennis, explored my new neighborhood in Connecticut (I was in New York City for over 25 years) on long walks while listening to podcasts, and expanded my cooking repertoire.
What podcasts do you enjoy?
I like business, entrepreneurial and biography podcasts like “How I Built This” by Guy Raz. I’ve also started to listen to “Ten Percent Happier” podcasts, and my most recent one is “How to Be a Better Boss” by Janice Marturano.
Where is the first place you want to travel when things open up and why?
I would love to see my family, who are all out West. I miss the face-to-face with them, and with the holidays coming up, it will be a different experience this year to not all be together.
Interested in being featured or recommending an industry professional for Straight Talk? Email TSNN Senior Editor Lisa Savas at firstname.lastname@example.org.