People News: The Expo Group, Corcoran, PMMI, VistPITTSBURGH Fill Their Ranks

July 11, 2017

In most cases, summer is a slower time of year, but hiring in the trade show industry continued at a brisk space through June and the first part of July.

The Expo Group recently brought on Chad Chappell as national sales director.

“Professionals like Chad who are true solution providers and see events holistically are vital to The Expo Group’s work as strategic partners, helping clients drive attendee, exhibitor and sponsorship revenue,” said The Expo Group President and COO Randy Pekowski.

He added, “His experience in the hospitality industry is particularly aligned with our emphasis on delivering personalized client experiences and helping people perform at a higher level.”

Chappell most recently served as director of Sales Development for Visit Baltimore, where he has built a reputation for understanding client needs and devising creative solutions. He also has worked in sales for Starwood Hotels & Resorts and the Dallas convention bureau.

Corcoran Expositions made five new hires to help meet increased growth at the firm.  

Laura Thompson has been promoted to senior director of expositions at PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, owner and producer of the PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows. Thompson will replace Jim Pittas who has been promoted to chief operating officer at PMMI.

During her 19 years with PMMI, Thompson has held several jobs within the show department and contributed to the success of PMMI's trade shows.

Thompson was most recently director of trade show operations, responsible for the operations of all PACK EXPO events in addition to managing EXPO PACK Mèxico and being part of the successful launch of EXPO PACK Guadalajara in 2013.

In her new role as senior director of expositions, Thompson will oversee PMMI's show department including all aspects of sales, promotions and operations for both international and domestic trade shows.

"Laura has made significant contributions to the growth and success of our PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows. Her leadership abilities and operational expertise will ensure the continued success of our shows. I look forward to working side-by-side with Laura to continue to build the PACK EXPO brand," said Jim Pittas, COO, PMMI.

“We are off to great start in 2017, providing services to many long-standing clients and also helping seven new clients,” said Dan Corcoran, COO at Corcoran Expositions.  “We are very excited about these five new hires as they will play a large role in serving the growing needs of our clients.”

·       Leesa Engelmann - Sponsorship Manager -- Engelmann brings 16 years of experience in the trade show industry, including running her own consulting business, “Event Marketing Girl” for eight years. Most recently she served as the Marketing and Exhibits Manager for the Orthopedic Trauma Association after three years as the Event Marketing lead for GE Critical Power. She joins as a Sponsorship Manager, developing and overseeing sponsorship programs for Corcoran’s clients. 

·       Gavin McAuliffe - Exhibit Sales -McAuliffe brings 12 years of experience in the trade show industry, most recently serving as an Account Executive for J&J Exhibitors Service. He joins the exhibit sales team, marketing exhibit space on behalf of Corcoran’s clients. 

·       Tyson Harrison - Exhibit Sales -- Harrison most recently held positions in the hospitality industry, and previously was a Meeting Rooms Conversion Manager for Aramark at McCormick Place. He joins the exhibit sales team, marketing exhibit space on behalf of Corcoran’s clients. 

·       Jennifer Kattalia - Exhibit Coordinator -- Kattalia is a graduating senior at DePaul University and a former intern at Corcoran primarily working on attendee and exhibitor marketing projects for the Chicago Golf Show. She will join the exhibit manager team, supporting marketing efforts and customer service.

·       Nicol Corcoran - Contract Administrator -- Corcoranl is new to the trade show industry, and most recently was an administrator for a student tutoring and testing center. Prior to that she had an eight-year career in the University Residence Life field, working at Universities in five different states.  

VisitPITTSBURGH, the official tourism promotion agency for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, upped Kristin (Mitchell) Wenger to the position of communications director.

Wenger joined VisitPITTSBURGH in 2000 after working at the Keebler Company in Charlotte, N.C.. Wenger has excelled in her role in the communications department at VisitPITTBSURGH and has helped Pittsburgh gain positive media coverage, not only locally, regionally and nationally, but internationally as well, through press tours and press events. 

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.