Alice Mathu of IAAPA talks about #IAAPAexpos, Orlando and her role in the organization
interview by Martin Palicki
Tell us about your responsibilities at IAAPA and how long you’ve been with the association.
I have been with IAAPA for almost 14 years. Today, I oversee sales and operations for IAAPA’s three global Expos — IAAPA Expo [Orlando], IAAPA Expo Europe, and IAAPA Expo Asia — as well as the many IAAPA conferences, meetings, and events around the world. In addition, I lead IAAPA’s global sales team including exhibit, advertising, and sponsorship sales.
How did you first engage with the attractions space and IAAPA?
I came to the attractions industry by accident. I was completing an Event Management Certificate program at George Washington University in Washington DC. Part of the program required that I work an Expo or other event. IAAPA needed some help on various projects, so I worked with the association for three months and then was excited to join the team full time. At the time, I didn’t realize there was an association for every kind of business and industry, and IAAPA is definitely the fun one!
What are some of the highlights people can expect at this year’s Expo in Orlando?
There’s always something to look forward to at IAAPA Expo.
We have a sold-out trade show floor with over 1,100 exhibitors! Back by popular demand, Exploration Station, an outdoor structure, will host 143 exhibiting companies. This is a great example of how we continue to seek innovative ways to grow the Expo and provide new opportunities for both our exhibitors and our attendees.
We’re always so proud to work with our many members to host the IAAPA International Charity Golf Tournament benefiting Give Kids The World Village. This year it will be held at Shingle Creek Golf Course, and of course the annual Fun Run will also benefit the Village.
And IAAPA Celebrates is always the perfect way to help close IAAPA Expo. This year our attendees will be able to experience exclusive access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade™, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, and Jurassic Park, including Jurassic Park River Adventure and Jurassic Park Discovery Center.
Are there any important developments for IAAPA Expo we can look forward to?
Orlando has become the home of IAAPA’s global headquarters and IAAPA Expo. Over the next few years, the Orange County Convention Center will undergo a $605 million multiyear expansion that includes additional meeting space and an 80,000-square-foot ballroom. These are exciting additions for the building, and we are already looking at ways this will positively impact the Expo in the coming years.
Will IAAPA Expo always be in Orlando from now on?
We expect to remain in Orlando at least until 2030.
What tips do you have for first time exhibitors and/or attendees?
Besides “wear comfortable shoes”?
I always tell first-time exhibitors to be sure they participate in the pre-Expo webinars to help put their best foot forward in their booth. I also recommend the invite-only, first-time exhibitor Meet and Greet event. Meet and Greet enables new exhibitors to meet industry veterans and committee members and can offer great assistance and insight on what Expo week is all about.
For attendees, I have similar advice. If this is your first Expo, attend the First Time Buyers’ Experience to hear key highlights about the week and tips to successfully navigate the show. Our education sessions and programs are truly top-notch and I encourage everyone to attend them, as well as the many networking and special events.
Most of all – have fun!
And don’t forget, the entire IAAPA team is able to assist with anything. Introduce yourself, visit IAAPA Central and stop by the Show Office. We are here for YOU!
What are some of the educational highlights for this year?
Oh, there are so many great opportunities it is hard to pick! A few highlights are:
• Lunch and Learn with George Walker, Creative Director, Universal Creative Studio
• Game Changer CEO and Co-Founder of Meow Wolf, Vince Kadlubek
• The ten EDUTours to Fun Spot America, Walt Disney World Resort; LEGOLAND Florida Resort, SeaWorld, Universal Orlando Resort, Pandora – The World of Avatar, Gatorland, Aquatica, Universal’s Volcano Bay and Island H20 Live!
• GM and Owners’ Breakfast featuring Carnival Cruise Line president, Christine Duffy
How do you select the location for the Thursday networking party and other off-site events?
IAAPA Celebrates is the largest event during IAAPA Expo. We love to showcase the newest and coolest attractions and experiences around Central Florida to our attendees, and our members look forward to hosting this event. It really does take a village to plan this great event each year. • • •