By Mary Tucker, Sr. PR/Communications Manager
Landon Shores, Senior Business Development Manager for Freeman, has inspired members of the IAEE Southwest Chapter with his passion and enthusiasm for IAEE, the industry and the chapter. As a chapter Board member, he is the first to volunteer, not afraid to roll up his leaves and do the tough work and follows through on anything he undertakes. He is empathetic and loves to encourage team effort with a straightforward approach everyone admires. He actively participates in brainstorming and comes up with ingenious, although workable, ideas.
Landon has been a cornerstone for chapter meet ups, motivating YP engagement, as well as the chapter’s annual golf tournament. Landon’s leadership qualities embody “the best of the industry.” His upbeat and can-do attitude makes him a valuable contributor to the chapter as he assists in programming social and educational meet-ups, developing creative assets for mailings and social media, and welcoming new members to events in addition to actively recruiting IAEE members to volunteer at both the chapter and national levels.
Here, Landon shares with IAEE the drive behind his passion for the industry, why he enjoys contributing time and service to his local chapter and the industry, and his vision for the industry in 2021.
What drew you to exhibitions and events, and what do you find most fulfilling about your career in this industry?
I became fascinated with events during the final semester of earning my master’s degree in the Hospitality program at UNLV, when I took a Convention and Meeting Management course. The class exposed me to an array of industry leaders and allowed me to tour convention centers throughout Las Vegas, and have eye-opening discussions with their staff. The common theme of every events professional I encountered was a genuine passion for their craft. I was drawn to that positive energy and excited to join a team that was driven by a common goal: creating memorable experiences.
For our final tour, our class was very fortunate to get a back-of-the-house walkthrough at Freeman. I was blown away by how many moving pieces needed to be coordinated to successfully execute an event. At the conclusion of the tour, we had a very candid roundtable discussion with one of their Vice Presidents of Business Development, Jim Ness, who spoke of his love for the industry and the excitement of working with numerous industries. As fate would have it, I later was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to work for Freeman, thanks to several of their key leaders who saw potential in me. I’m very grateful to Anytra Lowe, Brian Manoogian and Steve Anderson for bringing me into the Freeman family.
What I find most fulfilling about my career with Freeman is our ability to work alongside our association and convention partners throughout the country to bring thousands of global professionals together. It’s astonishing that our teams are able to work hand-in-hand to construct a small city in a matter of days, deconstruct, then move onto the next big show a week later. Now more than ever, tourist destinations like Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, and countless others, appreciate the enormous economic impact and publicity that trade shows and conventions have on their economy.
What compels you to work so closely with your colleagues on the chapter level and what would you tell someone considering getting more involved with their local chapter?
Landon: The beauty of serving on the Board for the Southwest Chapter, which represents Las Vegas, Southern California and Arizona, is the access it provides to leaders from associations, hotels, convention centers, tourism bureaus, and service contractors. For example, my first year on the Board I was introduced to Tom Gatusso, the Trade Shows Director for SEMA, who served as our Chair. I was amazed that Tom was so accessible because it can be extraordinarily challenging to get meaningful face time with leaders at that level of influence. What compels me more than anything to collaborate is an appreciation for the privilege of working alongside such talented team members.
What I would tell someone looking to get more involved with their local chapter is to not be intimidated to reach out to Board members to see how they can help. Everyone has unique talents and brings value to the table, and the most important thing is a willingness to serve wherever there is a need. Every Board member we add makes our reach and influence that much greater.
You have been commended by your chapter members for your ability to foster teamwork and collaboration. What are some of the ways in which you motivate your peers to take an active role in the chapter’s activities?
Landon: Our current Board Chair, Russ Callahan, does an excellent job of listening to input from all Board members and creating buy in from everyone on a shared vision. This creates a strong culture of teamwork. Also, a huge motivating factor for myself and fellow Board members is the positive feedback we receive from our chapter members. When you know what you’re doing is having a direct impact on the exposure our members are getting to industry information and leaders, it’s very easy to stay motivated. We brainstorm on a weekly basis how to improve the value our members receive and we hold each other accountable, which creates a strong culture of collaboration.
You have also been lauded for your unique ideas in communicating with chapter members. How do you feed your creativity?
Landon: I’m the Chair of our Events Committee and we’re always trying to plan something innovative to engage our members. In the virtual world created by COVID, it can be very challenging to come up with ideas. To overcome this, we’re always looking at best practices of other chapters and how we can put our own spin on those practices to make it unique for our members. I’ve never had trouble getting out of my comfort zone to engage others, which assists my efforts on the Board, because I’m always exposed to new ideas. Every committee member shares my level of enthusiasm and that makes working with them very enjoyable
As the industry recovers from the impact of COVID 19, what do you see as the chapter’s most helpful role to those who were most deeply affected?
Landon: Providing optimism and hope that we’re nearing the end of this extraordinarily trying time for ALL event professionals. Our members are craving concrete information from reliable sources and I feel we do our best to communicate this information to our members. We’re all ready to put 2020 in the rearview mirror and have an incredible 2021.