People News: RSCVA, Specialty Food Association, Informa Markets and More Make Big Hires, Promotions

December 7, 2020

As the trade show industry moves into the holiday season and sets its sights on the year ahead, several event-related organizations and companies are preparing for a strong recovery by making key promotions and growing their teams. Take a look: 

Charles Harris has taken the helm of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. In his new role as president and CEO, which he assumed on Nov. 16, Harris is responsible for all activities associated with the operations of RSCVA’s operations and its facilities. He will report directly to the RSCVA board of directors, which selected him in early October for the position.  

Harris most recently served as chief marketing officer and executive vice president of public affairs for Visit Anaheim, where he was a senior executive since 2014. In that role, he was responsible for developing and implementing strategies related to marketing, communications, public relations, advertising and web development. 

Under Harris’ leadership, Anaheim played host to the successful 2019 IPW conference, and his team earned more than 100 awards in recognition of excellence in marketing. Harris also held roles as vice chair of Visit California and as content committee and co-marketing chair of the Orange County Visitor Authority. He also held seats on the Anaheim Transportation Network’s board of directors and Cal Travel’s government relations committee.

Bill Lynch has been appointed president of the Specialty Food Association. Initially appointed interim president in May, Lynch has been with the SFA for more than 20 years.  

“Bill’s leadership under the pandemic has been steadfast and creative, launching endeavors such as Specialty Food Live! and virtual tasting events, all of which provide essential opportunities to our membership during these challenging times,” said Charlie Apt, SFA’s board chair. 

Having previously served as vice president of engagement and experience, Lynch has vast experience in operations and is a recognized leader in the specialty food and trade show industries. 

COTERIE, Informa Markets Fashion’s contemporary and advanced contemporary womenswear trade event, recently appointed Courtney Bradarich as vice president of events. With a specialized background in contemporary and advanced contemporary markets, Bradarich brings more than15 years of fashion trade experience to her new role, which she began on Nov. 24.

As the co-founder and president at Favors Agency—a full-service brand and business development consulting firm—Bradarich provided strategic advisory to fashion companies seeking U.S. market entry and expansion. Prior to launching Favors, she served as women’s show director at Capsule, a U.S.-based men’s and women’s trade show, where she led the womenswear division of shows in New York City, Paris, Las Vegas and Berlin.

Destinations International selected Keith Backsen as its chief sales and services officer, a new position that will oversee the organization’s membership and partnership departments. He will begin his new role on Jan. 1, 2021.

With more than 30 years in the travel and tourism industry, Backsen has worked for destination organizations for more than 18 years. Most recently, he served as president and CEO of the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau, and prior to Visit Omaha, served as vice president of sales and services for Visit Spokane.

Claude Blanc has assumed the role of new portfolio director of IBTM Events following the departure of Shane Hannam, who held the role for almost three years. Blanc will manage the new portfolio sector as part of his current role as World Travel Market portfolio director.

With more than 25 years in the travel industry, Blanc has extensive experience in both the leisure and business events sectors. His new role will ensure that the current IBTM strategy will continue with its customer-focused approach for exhibitors, hosted buyers and partners. 

“I’m really looking forward to continuing to support the IBTM global community on the road to recovery and beyond,” Blanc said. “I’d especially like to personally thank Shane for the exceptional job he has done leading the IBTM team and wish him all the very best with his future plans.”

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Caesars Entertainment strode into 2022 with its sights set on making the year one of innovation and renovation for the Empire as the company announced a $400 million, Las Vegas-style makeover for its Atlantic City properties. The master plan for the company’s three East Coast properties -- Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana -- involves interior renovations, new celebrity dining concepts, and more to create the ultimate seaside conference destination.