Looking Ahead To IAAPA Expo 2020’s Virtual Education Conference With John Hallenbeck

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) always holds an annual expo in November every year. As with everything else in 2020, the pandemic has changed the way we look at everything including this year’s event.

This year, IAAPA is hosting a Virtual Education Conference online. While the expo always features great speakers about all aspects of the industry, this year the speakers can be viewed from anywhere around the globe!

I got a chance to ask John Hallenbeck, Vice President of IAAPA North America a few questions about the Virtual Education Conference this year. In addition, he game me some insight as to the tools IAAPA is giving the industry to help navigate the pandemic. Enjoy!

Given all that is going on with the pandemic this year, can you give us an idea of what is different at the IAAPA Expo in 2020? Also, what still remains the same?

Well, certainly the fact we will not have IAAPA Expo 2020 in person is the largest change. And while we are disappointed, we understand our members are still working through the impact of the global pandemic and focusing on their businesses and adjusting their operations.

However, November is traditionally the time when the global attractions industry comes together and the IAAPA team quickly shifted to create IAAPA Expo ǀ Virtual Education Conference. This unique education conference allows participants to take part from their office, or their own home – anywhere in the world. The Conference features the sessions and keynote presentations originally planned for IAAPA Expo 2020 – so in that way, the same high quality, relevant and engaging education members expect from IAAPA Expo, has not changed at all.

What resources has IAAPA given to the industry in regard to the pandemic and where can people go to get information that IAAPA is currently offering? 

IAAPA has been providing support and resources to members to help them navigate through the pandemic every step of the way.

IAAPA developed a dedicated COVID-19 resource minisite on IAAPA.org that continues to be updated regularly. The site includes information from health authorities, regional updates, information about advocacy and IAAPA’s efforts to share the industry’s story with national, regional, and local governments, and more.

IAAPA also spearheaded the effort to write the “Reopening Guidance: Considerations for the Attractions Industry” document. Developed in partnership with attractions members and operators from around the world, as well including input and guidance from health-related government agencies and medical professionals, the guidance outlines principles, and approaches for members to consider as they prepare to reopen. This guidance – which is in Spanish and English – has been an important resource for our members.

Are there any things that are being offered at this year’s Expo that might be considered for future years? 

IAAPA Expo ǀ Virtual Education Conference is a brand-new event, unlike any other IAAPA has presented. For three days IAAPA will present virtual education sessions and keynote presentations on many topics of interest to our members.

While we are planning to host IAAPA Expo 2021 in Orlando, we will also learn a lot from this event, and continue to look at ways we can provide meaningful virtual experiences to members around the world to complement our in-person events.

What are you personally looking forward to at this year’s Expo?

We have an incredible speaker line up scheduled for IAAPA Expo ǀ Virtual Education Conference. I’m looking forward to the keynote presentation by Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. I’m also excited we will celebrate this year’s IAAPA Hall of Fame inductees, IAAPA Young Professional of the Year and IAAPA Service Awards, which will all be presented on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

A huge thank you to John Hallenbeck for taking the time to chat with us! And another thank you to IAAPA for partnering with Theme Park University over the years to bring you content about the attractions industry!

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