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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Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact