Episode 15:

Expo! Expo!, IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition, is the “show for shows.”

In this unique episode of the Planet Leadership podcast recorded live from the Expo! Expo! show floor, industry leaders Jennifer Hoff of Taffy Event Strategies, Erika Welling from PRA Business Events, and Amy Calvert with the Events Industry Council share their thoughts on technology, social responsibility, and the important role business leaders can play in making the world a better place.

Jennifer Hoff has spent her career producing trade shows and conferences. Most recently, she launched a full-service trade show and event management company, Taffy Event Strategies. Taffy Events produces exhibitions and conferences including Coverings and ASPE-The American Society of Plumbing Engineers Expo. Prior to that, she worked with VP International to launch new events in a variety of market segments.

Jennifer is active in trade show industry organizations including the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO). She has served on the program committee and as Chairman of the Board for the IAEE Capital Chapter and has held various IAEE national positions including Board Director and Education Committee. She serves on the CEM faculty for IAEE. She has also contributed to the Art of the Show, 3rd edition, which is a textbook used in colleges and universities. In addition, she has instructed the Introduction to Exposition Management course at Northern Virginia Community College. During her trade show industry career, she has received several industry awards and accolades including the IAEE 2018 Woman of Achievement Award. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Science from Virginia Tech in Production and Operations Management.

Erika Welling, CEM, PRA Las Vegas General Manager, has decades of experience as an innovative and highly driven marketing and operations leader in the hospitality industry. Having been on launch teams for exhibitions, attractions, and tours, she utilizes those skills and experiences in her role as Las Vegas General Manager at PRA, an internationally known business event management company.

Erika has provided resources and guidance to many during her career, which includes senior-level operations and marketing for international general service contractors in the exhibitions and events industry. Previous to working in the general services contracting world, Erika was Regional and International Director for Themed Restaurants and Attractions, and Director for a prominent Las Vegas transportation and sightseeing company.

Erika has served over 16 years on the board of the Las Vegas Hospitality Association (LVHA), presently serves as a SWIAEE Board Director, is on the CEM faculty and IAEE membership engagement committee. Throughout her career, Erika has served on boards of tourism, professional education and philanthropic associations.

Erika invariably incorporates her education learned from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and art experience within her profession. In her free time, she enjoys an assortment of art projects, reading, skiing, and hiking.

Amy Calvert is the CEO of the Events Industry Council, whose 30+ member organizations represent over 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the events industry. Amy leads the council in advancing the events industry and professionals who advance the business of meetings.

In her previous role as Senior Vice President of Sales & Services for Visit Baltimore, Amy made it her mission to strengthen their partnerships with key industry stakeholders and boost Charm City’s appeal and visibility in key market segments. Amy truly understands the positive ripple effect that occurs when a city can keep its hotels occupied and its convention center’s calendar booked.

As a key member of the executive leadership team, Amy contributed to the promotional, business development, and operational management strategies of the organization. She developed and directed the promotional strategies that were implemented by the sales and services team, and collaborated with them to ensure that they properly implemented these programs in order to position Baltimore as a major tourist and meeting-planning destination.

What you’ll learn about in this episode from Jennifer Hoff:

  • Why the show and event industry needs to be focusing on innovative new technologies to better run and manage events, and why integrating functions across roles is key
  • Why Jennifer believes that data analytics and data-driven decision making is the future of the industry, and what future trends she is expecting to develop
  • How Taffy Event Strategies has positioned itself as a well-known and industry-respected full-service trade show company
  • How Jennifer’s career focus has changed as Taffy Event Strategies has grown, and how she has learned to let go of day-to-day work to focus more on leading

What you’ll learn about in this episode from Erika Welling:

  • Why Erika sees augmented reality technology as the future of interactive educational experiences in event planning
  • Why raising awareness and educating the public about important social issues such as sustainability and human trafficking is an important core value at PRA
  • How PRA Business Events was founded and became one of the first franchise-based businesses in the industry, and how they have developed international partnerships
  • How PRA’s international partnerships allow them to offer unique value for their clients with international event needs
  • How Erika’s career journey led her to her current role, and what challenges she faced early in her career as a young woman in a leadership position

What you’ll learn about in this episode from Amy Calvert:

  • How the Events Industry Council collects data on the industry reflecting the important impact the events industry has on global employment and GDP
  • How the Events Industry Council works to unify the global events industry, and how they offer an industry certification for industry professionals
  • How Amy’s career led to her role as CEO of the Events Industry Council, and why she feels inspired by the industry’s broad passion and commitment to serve and connect
  • How not just business leaders but people in any professional role can have a dramatic impact on diversity, sustainability and social responsibility
  • How Amy views her role as a female business leader, and why she values mentorship relationships to help her thrive in her new role as a CEO

Additional Resources from Jennifer Hoff:

Additional Resources from Erika Welling:

Additional Resources from Amy Calvert: