In the latest installment of our #HeresWhy Q&A sessions, we interviewed Angi Van Berg, Vice President of Trade Show Sales at Louisville Tourism:
How did you get into the trade show industry? Did you always think you would work with events and/or sales?
I landed in the hospitality industry by accident but have specifically gravitated toward the trade show vertical through my sales career at Louisville Tourism. Events were something I was always interested in, sales not so much; I still don’t consider myself a salesperson but more a liaison and expert about Louisville to clients and all it has to offer. Working with the trade show industry is enjoyable because I learn about industries that I would generally never be exposed to and am always impressed with the mini-commerce cities that are created on a tradeshow floor.
You’ve been with the Louisville Tourism convention team for over 20 years – how has the trade show business changed in that time? Are you seeing any trends that indicate where it’s heading in the next several years?
We are slowly seeing a shift from the traditional show model; Hosted buyer events are more popular now, and the ability to segment and use target marketing to grow attendance because of data-driven solutions is growing. The corporate market seems to always be ahead in terms of setting trends for B2B interactions.
The Kentucky International Convention Center just wrapped up an impressive renovation. Can you tell us a little more about the ‘why’ behind this big refresh and how it’s going to impact the community? It was time for the center to be renovated and improve its condition for our current client base, but in that evaluation process for the project, the research also told us that we were unable to bid on 25 percent of the trade show business due to the size of our exhibit hall. The expansion and reimagination have truly transformed the center to be a vital competitor for future business and has made it a real focal point in downtown. The days of an institutional style center are gone; now, we have a vibrant hub of activity that can be seen from the outside, while attendees enjoy natural light throughout.
You attended Exhibitions Day this year – were there any particular issues/topics you felt passionate about (i.e. travel facilitation, security, etc.)? What would you say to people considering going next year?
The opportunity to educate our lawmakers about the economic impact of our industry is very rewarding. One specific issue from this year’s event that resonated with me was creating awareness of online booking scams. Several lawmakers seemed to be surprised at the sheer number pirates chipping away at the integrity of our housing system. I would tell those considering attending that if you are proud to work within the hospitality industry, taking the time to advocate on its behalf is not only professionally rewarding but it does truly move the needle. The calls on the Hill are to your respective cities/states, so as a constituent, the office wants to hear from you!
What advice do you have for young professionals looking to join or become more involved with this industry?
Identify a mentor, ask them to guide you and use them as a resource for sage advice. We all want to appear like we know everything….but we don’t. We need guidance at all stages of our careers, so be open to advice and aware.