People News: ASM Global, Grip, Little Rock CVB and More Appoint New Leadership, Make Hires

April 15, 2021

As hope returns to the event industry in the form of smaller trade shows and conventions beginning to resume, event-related organizations are making new hires, promoting team members and creating new positions as they prepare to expand their business. Take a look:

Worldwide venue management and services company ASM Global has appointed live events and leisure industry veteran Ron Bension as its president and CEO. Bension brings more than four decades of experience to his new role, including at Live Nation as president of House of Blues Entertainment, as well as president and CEO roles across public and private companies such as, GameWorks, MCA Recreation Group and Universal Studios Hollywood.

“[Bension] is precisely the type of executive we seek to lead our businesses,” said Kosty Gilis, managing director at Onex and ASM board member. “His extensive history of managing enterprises that create superb experiences for customers and visitors will be an enormous asset to the company. In addition, his demonstrated strategic thinking and execution capabilities are a perfect fit for the next phase of ASM’s growth as we exit the pandemic.” 

AI-powered virtual, hybrid and live event engagement platform Grip has beefed up its leadership team with three newly created senior positions. Geraint Owen joins the company as its CFO, following six years at Questback, where he served as finance director for the U.S. and U.K. In his new role, Owen will use his knowledge of the U.S. market to support Grip in expanding its overseas presence. 

Graham Forsyth, former marketing director at Khoros for EMEA and ANZ, has been appointed head of marketing at Grip, where his in-depth knowledge of AI engagement software will help the company establish its position as a leading market engagement platform while building international awareness.  

Abby Matthews has been tapped as Grip’s head of people. Her previous roles at DREST, Contino and GitLab supported significant team growth across the dev-ops and technology markets both in the U.K. and internationally.  

Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau has hired 10-year CVB veteran Adam Berrios as its new director of sales. Working alongside the vice president of sales and services, Berrios is responsible for leading the CVB’s local, regional and national efforts to bring meetings and conventions to the Arkansas capitol.

In his new role, Berrios will promote the destination for conventions, meetings, business events and related tourism activities; collaborate with the bureau’s sales team to develop customer engagement strategies and key partnership opportunities; work with internal LRCVB teams to implement effective marketing strategies; maintain close working relationships with area hotels and facilities to develop cooperative programs to promote the city for events, and analyze potential business opportunities.

Prior to joining the LRCVB, Berrios served as senior sales manager with VisitGreenvilleSC and the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau in Georgia.

Reed Exhibitions has named digital transformation expert Gaby Appleton global chief digital product officer. In this newly created role, Appleton will work across RX’s worldwide business that spans 22 countries and more than 400 events. She will be responsible for the company’s digital strategy and execution and will also lead its digital community. Appleton will report to COO Brian Brittain and Chief Commercial Officer Richard Mortimore.

Previously, Appleton worked as product director for the U.K.’s NHS Test and Trace, where she led the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app and assisted with building various other digital products to support the fight against coronavirus.   

Prior to that, she worked as managing director of researcher products at Elsevier, where she was responsible for the ScienceDirect and Mendeley global products, and as Elsevier’s global director of strategy working on the digital transformation of their research and health businesses. 

Destinations International has hired seasoned travel and tourism industry professional Kim Bach as its sales and services manager, responsible for implementing business partner and membership initiatives.

Most recently, Bach served as partner manager for the Adventure Travel Trade Association, where she led strategic projects and managed partners in North America, Oceania, Asia as well as Gear and Media accounts. 

Previous to that role, she worked as a program manager for a high-end expedition travel company where she was responsible for global travel logistics and operations for over 35 maritime and overland programs. She also worked in strategic positions at Visit Seattle.  

London-based global events company Montgomery Group has hired Zoe Wooster as portfolio marketing manager of its design and build division, which includes the FIT Show & Visit Glass and W Exhibition & Elements trade shows. 

Wooster brings 15 years of experience in live events across the built environment sector with a particular focus on sustainability. She joins the company from Futurebuild, where she spent three years as marketing manager, following roles working with events including CIH Exhibition, Homes, RESI Conference and Awards and The Property Awards. 

Global, full-service association and event management company IMN Solutions has promoted Melissa Tighe as executive vice president and CFO, and Lauren Moore as vice president of sales and marketing.

Tighe will lead IMN’s account management team as well as oversee revenue management and client engagement. She joined the company in 2017 as vice president, client development following leadership positions at Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Washington, D.C. and New York. 

Moore will be responsible for establishing and coordinating marketing and sales strategies, plans, programs, and functions for IMN and its clients, as well as overseeing the company’s virtual and hybrid event management services. She joined IMN in 2016 as senior account director, following more than seven years at Hyatt Corporation 

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Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.