Exhibition Showcase Talks To Scott Craighead, Vice President, IAEE

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Future Ready means we must be willing to evolve our roles to embrace the opportunities that technology will bring to our business.

ES. In the past 16 years, you have played role in various positions producing exhibitions and events in the U.S. and globally. Can you share with us some of the major highlights of your professional journey since the time you started?
Scott. I have been extremely fortunate in my career journey, having experienced event creation, design, and production across many types of events, audiences, and markets. I can pull many great experiences from each phase of my career, whether it be managing events and facilities at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), running semiconductor events and trade shows in Asia, Europe, and the USA, or now, leading shows and events that serve the exhibition and events industry worldwide. Throughout my career, I have always received the personal value of being part of an industry which serves as a critical business and marketing platform in connecting people and ideas.

ES. The International Association of Exhibitions and Events is the leading association for the global exhibition industry. How’s IAEE committed to help make overall travel and business events industry more inclusive?
Scott. Exhibitions and events have long brought diverse groups of people together to advocate, learn and conduct business for their industry. International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) engages industry members who are passionate about influencing change through channels such as the IAEE Diversity, Equity &Inclusion Committee, which is committed to identifying and developing initiatives that elevate underrepresented individuals, supports chapters across the globe and provides a connected and inclusive community globally.

ES. In this time of pandemic and disruption, what all campaigns and initiatives have been taken by IAEE for the revival of event industry?
Scott. From the beginning of the pandemic, IAEE has taken on many projects to assist its members and the industry in recovering from this unprecedented situation. These initiatives have centered around digital events, public advocacy, and health & safety. Last year we successfully launched the IAEE Virtual Exhibitions and Events Marketplace to connect show organizers with platform companies. We also launched IAEE’s first virtual Expo! Expo!, which served as an industry use case for virtual event production. Soon, a CEM (Certified in Exhibition Management) virtual events module will be released. We are also preparing to launch IAEE’s Market Hub, a 365 day digital marketplace to connect industry buyers and sellers. I am most proud of my work with the IAEE Health and Safety Task Force, comprised of several industry groups representing all parts of the industry (venues, show management, labor unions, exhibitors, exhibit builders), and GBAC (Global Bio-risk Advisory Council). With task force support and contribution, IAEE released its publication, Essential Considerations for Safely Reopening Exhibitions and Events last June, with the 3rd version of this publication coming in the next few weeks.

ES. Can you share with us the role and responsibilities as the Vice President, Exhibitions & Events?
Scott. As Vice President of Exhibitions & Events for IAEE, my responsibilities include Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition. Expo! Expo! is the gateway to the decision-makers for the exhibition and events industry. It attracts the owners, executives, directors and managers from companies and associations, which organize a wide variety of events and exhibitions, including many of the largest exhibitions in North America.. As a member of the IAEE Leadership Team, I am responsible for development and implementation of event and marketplace related initiatives as it relates to the organization’s strategic plan. Management responsibilities include budgeting, show strategy, development & design, technology solutions & integrations, personnel, site selection, request for proposals, contracts, and overall operations for all events and exhibitions produced by IAEE. I serve in industry wide leadership roles in technology, environmental sustainability, and health and safety.

ES. What is your take on being ‘Future Ready’ must be new normal for Exhibitions? What according to you are the learnings from this pandemic?
Scott. Future Ready means we must be willing to evolve our roles to embrace the opportunities that technology will bring to our business. Event organizers need to look at ways to engage with its market audience on a year round basis and use digital to expand its audience. IAEE is represented in 50 countries. Now, we are planning to launch more international events, including Expo! Expo! MENA (Middle East North Africa) in the Spring of 2022 in Abu Dhabi. However, this digital revolution for our industry will allow for much stronger benefit and outreach opportunities for all global stakeholders.

ES. What are the top 3 logistic challenges in the industry?
Scott. Certainly, depending on the outcome of this pandemic, health and safety is the number one logistical challenge we face today. As show organizers, we must prioritize health and safety for our attendees and exhibitors. Also, with the pandemic and this digital revolution for our industry, balancing the needs of digital and onsite experiences will remain a challenge to navigate.

ES. According to you, what would be the key upcoming trends of the Exhibition industry in 2021?
Scott. For 2021, the focus will be on the industry’s recovery, bringing events back, and applying what was learned from the 2020 virtual events to 2021 hybrid events.

ES. What would be your message to industry?
Scott. The industry will ultimately recover and thrive. I am proud of how this industry has responded in the face of great adversity. The business will evolve much faster now, yet the biological drivers for meeting in person will remain. In the midst of the disruption generated from a business under immense pressure and change, don’t lose sight of why events are so intrinsically valuable to the human experience.