Industry Powerhouse Jennifer Heinold Joins Taffy Event Strategies as Chief Operating Officer

October 13, 2021

Taffy Event Strategies, a female-owned, full-service trade show and event planning firm based in Arlington, Va., appointed well-known industry veteran Jennifer Heinold to the newly created position of chief operating officer.

In collaboration with Taffy President Jennifer Hoff, Heinold will oversee the day-to-day operations of the company and ensure that the needs and expectations of current and future clients are met and exceeded by building growth strategies for shows and leading new product development.

Heinold brings a wealth of experience in serving diverse communities; connecting buyers and sellers before, during and after events; growing and nurturing audiences; and enabling year-round engagement.

“Jenn’s independent show organizer experience, coupled with her track record of launching events, creating value for exhibitors and attendees alike, and growing product portfolios will truly bolster what we can offer our current and prospective clients,” Hoff said.

Heinold, who describes herself as an innovative trade show executive and community builder, said she looks forward to continuing to build upon the great successes of Hoff and her team.

“I’m excited to build new product offerings and look forward to working with Taffy’s current and prospective clients," she said.

Heinold believes the team at Taffy team is what truly sets the company apart.

"I first worked with Jen Hoff 17 years ago at National Trade Productions, and she remained someone I would turn to for advice as I grew my career," she said. "Over the years, I came to know some key Taffy team members such as Mary Bender, Elena Grant, Jenn Ellek and Kellie Shevlin, and any conversation I had with them was at such a smart and strategic level."

When she was vetting her decision to join Taffy, she asked about how they had adapted during COVID.

"It was clear that they took a nimble and very realistic approachthey worked fast, made smart decisions along the way and delivered what their customers needed," Heinold said. "I was really impressed with that." 

In her new role at Taffy, Heinold plans to apply the important lessons being learned during the pandemic. 

“The past 18 months have taught us a lot about the value of events and have forced us to evaluate our event models and strategies to ensure we are meeting our community’s needs.” Heinold said. "I started my career in trade shows in marketing, and one of my favorite messages was always, 'You can have a month’s worth of meetings in three days at my show.' Now, its 18-24 months of missed meetings taking place in three days at our showsthere is real value in that!"

The importance of lead generation is another key takeaway of the pandemic, according to Heinold.

"COVID also put the spotlight on lead generation and how we can not only build and bring communities together in person, but as show organizers and associations, it needs to be our duty and mission to ensure that regardless of the event model or format, we are creating opportunities for access to those communities and business to take place," she said. 

As the industry recovers and looks to rebound to pre-pandemic levels over the next two years, Heinold said her focus will be on producing events that bring together a buyer-and-seller community and doing so with flawless execution while considering some of the current challenges people are facing.

"For some, it is much harder to leave their families than it was 18 months ago, and getting to events can be challenging with travel limitations," she said. "So I want our focus to be on what we can control, and that’s getting the right attendees to our events and making sure the experience for our exhibitors, attendees and speakers is a really positive one." 

Heinold comes to Taffy from Access Intelligence in Rockville, Md., where she had worked for more than 15 years in leadership roles, most recently as senior vice president, events. In that position, she managed a portfolio of trade shows and conferences in the aerospace, healthcare and renewable energy markets as well as the operations team responsible for the production and planning of those events. Prior to her VP role, Heinold was Access Intelligence’s show director, responsible for sales, marketing and operations for the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition for the satellite and space communities.

She started her career in the trade show industry in 2005 at National Trade Productions. 

A thought leader and passionate participant in the industry, Heinold serves on the Board of Directors of IAEE and often speaks at annual industry events for organizations such as IAEE, ECEF and SISO, among others.

Working with outstanding people and building shows are the aspects she has enjoyed most during her career. 

"I have had so many great mentors over the years and also have been fortunate enough to be a mentor for some of our industry’s rising stars, and that has been the most fulfilling part of my career," Heinold said. "And I have always loved the ability to grow and evolve a showit’s a living, breathing asset that you can mold to make better every year."

Taffy, founded in 2014, thrives on producing events designed to inspire audiences, create connections and deliver results. The company’s clients include Coverings, the Global Tile and Stone Experience; Association of Science-Technology Centers; American Society of Plumbing Engineers; and Public Works Expo, among others.

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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust, adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters, it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing trade shows, expositions and conventions. An example is Mohegan Sun, which built an industry-leading, COVID-19 Resource Center with a combination of pictures from recently held successful events (the property reopened on May 1, 2020) along with several widely available and informative documents, such as an evolving operational framework: