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Experience the Magic at Expo! Expo!

Take an inside look at what goes on in hosting Expo! Expo! from Mindy Abel, CMP, CTA of Visit Anaheim

With Disneyland right in her backyard, you would think that Mindy Abel must not want to be anywhere else. After all, she’s living out every person’s childhood fantasy of being best friends with Mickey Mouse and his crew. While Disneyland is the place where dreams come true, Mindy would rather go to Expo! Expo!, where she can experience a special kind of magic, exclusively for event professionals.

Filled with excitement and vivacity, IAEE had the chance to talk to Mindy about her experience attending Expo! Expo! and how Expo! Expo! has changed her career.

Tell us a little about yourself. What are your current responsibilities?

Currently, I work with a dynamic and creative group. Our team is Strategic Alliance & Partnership with Visit Anaheim. We collaborate within the team to produce marquis events, while engaging partners in our community to connect their products with visitors, whether these visitors are coming for business or leisure.

Why do you attend Expo! Expo!?

Expo! Expo! is an annual reunion that I look forward to every year.  After many, many years (I’ve lost count!) I look forward to meeting new people and re-connecting with industry peers. The bonds and connections from Expo! Expo! form lasting friendships – a great resource for me in my career.

Being a part of Synchronicities, you have been active for Expo! Expo! for years. What changes have you noticed with each Expo! Expo!?

IAEE likes to try new concepts. Engaging attendees is a primary goal. I like that the organization takes risks and try new things, which can be a catalyst for growth. New ideas don’t always work. However, the ability to learn, change and adapt from these concepts are compelling. Synchronicities has brought together the synergies of our three cities (Baltimore, Anaheim and San Antonio). At Synchronicities, we are also taking risks and trying new things. IAEE has been instrumental in helping us connect the dots and facilitate our partnership goals.

How does hosting Expo! Expo! affect the host city and what is the impact?

There are many benefits! We get to open our community and home to the world during Expo! Expo!. Hosting our industry peers is a great challenge, but to surprise and delight this audience with memorable experiences was very rewarding!  Our community working together to produce Expo! Expo! was especially rewarding. We have pride in what we can accomplish together and showcasing what we can offer. I believe we shared that message in 2016.

As the Chairperson of the Women’s Leadership Committee, how does attending Expo! Expo! benefit women in leadership positions or those aspiring to move forward in their career?

The Women’s Leadership Initiative is a testimony to how collaboration, networking and education can spawn ideas and growth at any point in your career. For example, a message on value and worth will resonate at every stage of your career. You learn from education, networking and experience. The Women’s Leadership Initiative gives us the tools to apply these teachings into our everyday lives.

For this year’s Expo! Expo!, we’re bringing back the Women’s Leadership Experience. Why should women attend this program?

The program for the Women’s Leadership Experience is amazing! The session will start off with keynote speaker, Emilie Aires talking about the gender gap. Afterwards, there will be a diverse panel discussion that will arm you with thought-provoking ideas and inspiration as you set goals for yourself, professionally and personally, in the coming year.  I would not miss it!

How do you prepare yourself on going to the show floor? What tips do you have for anyone exhibiting for the first time at Expo! Expo!?

Listen, look and learn!  Exhibitors are passionate about their products. Take the time to see who is coming in advance, and seek advice from those that can mentor you in the process. I would recommend attending the education sessions. Stay beyond the expo to network, learn and engage through Thursday.

Were there any insights or takeaways from Expo! Expo! that you implemented in your organization

At the Opening General Session, Phil Hansen taught us to grow beyond your limitations. In our team, we incorporated these concepts as we planned a number of events. We went in with the mindset to push the envelope, broaden our approach and communicate our goals.  The process was a little uncomfortable at first, but worked really well.

Name an unforgettable moment that has happened to you at Expo! Expo!.

My most memorable moment of Expo! Expo! was Andy Grammer at the Opening Reception last year. When we were planning the Opening Reception, our team knew we wanted to have a headliner…but who could we get with our limited budget? I was constantly asked on who I wanted and the answer was always Andy Grammer. But if we can’t get him, then who else? Our team collaborated with our community and guess who we got…Yes it can be done! I love it when perseverance wins out!

If you were talking to someone who had not attended Expo! Expo! and was considering going, what would you say to him/her?   

The size, scope and scale of the event is one of the major reasons to attend. We all connect and learn in our own way. Expo! Expo! offers many options to connect and grow throughout the week.

What is one event or program that attendees cannot miss at Expo! Expo! that you thoroughly enjoy?

To say one event is just not fair. How am I to choose just one?!

If attending, take advantage of the education on and off the show floor! Attend the keynotes (they’re just the right length), mega room sessions, and the educations sessions on the expo floor.

Definitely go to the evening events are always a compliment to the destination!

First time attending? You’re not alone. Go to the First Timers session.

How’s that for picking just one event? :-0

Will you be attending this year’s Expo! Expo! in San Antonio?

Yes! I’m looking forward to the hospitality extended to all in attendance. San Antonio does a great job with that. As always, I look forward to reconnecting with peers and learning new ideas and tools for the coming year!  See you in San Antonio!!



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