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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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.