Straight Talk with Yancy Weinrich, Chief Growth Officer, Reed Exhibitions U.S.

October 19, 2020

While we at TSNN have been working hard to provide a balanced view of how the trade show industry has been faring during COVID-19 — highlighting the positive alongside the negative news — we also believe that much can be learned from our industry leaders during this challenging time. That’s why we’ve launched “Straight Talk,” a new interview series that will explore both the business and human side of the pandemic through the experiences and guidance of event industry executives.

Like most exhibition industry professionals these days, Yancy Weinrich has been doing her best to adjust and adapt to the “new normal” of personal and professional disruption. While it’s been hard to watch how the pandemic has impacted her colleagues and industry, there have been some recent bright spots, she says. Two months ago, Weinrich was promoted from chief operating officer to chief growth officer at Reed Exhibitions U.S., a newly created role that includes overseeing sales, marketing, digital and activations for more than 25 B2B trade shows and events including JCK, PGA, Vision Expo, Interphex, G2E and ISC. TSNN checked in with this passionate 16-year industry veteran to find out how she and her company have been weathering 2020, whether she thinks virtual events are here to stay and what she is most looking forward to post-pandemic.

What is the biggest change your company has had to navigate during this challenging time? 

When we shut down the office in mid-March, we couldn’t imagine that we would be affected for this long by the pandemic. Like most organizations, the biggest change we have made is our pivot to virtual and digital connections and these offerings for our customers. We had long thought about this direction as part of our strategy, but to do it this quickly has created a start-up mode environment for our business. It’s presented great opportunities for our people to stretch in ways they haven’t thought about in the past. 

How do you think the industry will be most changed going forward?  

The good news is our customers want to be together in-person and are looking forward to having our physical events come back. When they do, our belief is that they will come back stronger. That doesn’t necessarily mean larger, but stronger, as those who travel to our events will have a renewed sense of energy and purpose to be there and be together. That said, there will be a new layer of digital and virtual layered on top of our physical events, and for some industries that have been completely disrupted there will be new opportunities for adjacencies, new segments and new audience types. 

Virtual – here to stay, or a stop gap until live events return?  

Here to stay. Imagine a world like our personal retail experiences now – you can shop or source, in-person, online and at any time of the day or night. This will be a normal part of our events and brands. Content will become that more important, and owning the brand space in the ecosystem of year-round will be critical. Virtual also allows for customers and organizers to have access to new data and information, which can be used to enhance the in-person experience and productivity for event attendees. 

What have you learned most about yourself during the pandemic?  

That I am adaptable and embrace change. I also learned that being at a desk every day doesn’t suit my personality. I love the get-up-and-go, creating events that come to life, and the hustle and bustle of our trade show life. I miss our customers and our partners, and crave being with them again when we are able to.

And how about your teams?  

That they can do more than they ever thought they could. They have the ability to think differently, work differently in remote environments, be empathetic with their colleagues and are resilient. I’ve been so proud of their creativity and how they have reimagined the show experience during these times. 

What self-care practices have been key for your mental health this year and why?  

I can’t sit still, so being home/on the ground for so many months has given me time to think about what is important to me. This pandemic is a roller coaster and every day we are hostages to the news media, and I can’t lie – some days have been hard! But, I have found new outlets. I’ve learned to work out at home (I bought a Mirror), taken up tennis, explored my new neighborhood in Connecticut (I was in New York City for over 25 years) on long walks while listening to podcasts, and expanded my cooking repertoire.

What podcasts do you enjoy?

I like business, entrepreneurial and biography podcasts like “How I Built This” by Guy Raz. I’ve also started to listen to “Ten Percent Happier” podcasts, and my most recent one is “How to Be a Better Boss” by Janice Marturano.

Where is the first place you want to travel when things open up and why?  

I would love to see my family, who are all out West. I miss the face-to-face with them, and with the holidays coming up, it will be a different experience this year to not all be together.

Interested in being featured or recommending an industry professional for Straight Talk? Email TSNN Senior Editor Lisa Savas at

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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.