InPark interviews Chris Conte, interim president of the new TEA Asian Division
by Martin Palicki
What is involved with the TEA Asian Initiative?
For the past three years, TEA has consistently focused on building its brand around the world. Branding is important for companies, not just products. We want people to understand what we bring to the entertainment industry through speaking on professional panels, participating in trade shows and holding mixers and special events.
During those past three years we’ve had a committee exploring the Asian landscape to see if there is a need for a TEA division in Asia. Clearly, the need is there, and the International Board voted last month to officially launch the TEA Asia Pacific Division. I am functioning as the interim president and we are setting up an interim board while we start the process of developing the Division. The board will be representative of foreign companies doing business in Asia as well as regional companies.
Will there be a home base for the Division?
We will not have a singular presence in Asia, although with all the activity happening currently in Shanghai and Singapore, there is likely to be a great deal of focus on those two markets initially. As the Asian market expands, there may be a need to grow regional groups specifically.
What are the goals?
We are looking to develop a healthy membership community by providing great membership benefits, a series of seminars, and giving the Asian entertainment community the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with not only the TEA community within Asia but with members from around the world.
We also want to continue to work with IAAPA in Asia. We are aligned step by step with IAAPA and coordinating efforts with them. TEA enjoys a long-term respectful relationship with IAAPA and we are making sure we are in sync and supportive of each other.
What value is TEA bringing to the industry in Asia?
Quite simply, TEA provides a connection with the rest of the themed entertainment world. That’s the number one asset and value people want. We provide the opportunity for national Asian companies to meet the rest of the entertainment world – not only the big companies but also the smaller scenic and design companies.
The secondary value we bring is the ability to provide educational outlets as well as behind-the-scenes tours, which attract and inform a large number of people.
Thanks in large part to our member companies, TEA has a significant presence in the market. We have a voice, so when we approach companies like Wanda Corporation as the TEA, they know we are an entity that is aligned together with a common cause.
We also hope to provide real benefits to the Asian community. We can connect key leaders to Asian companies, and provide access to behind the scenes stuff. At the same time we want to see how different regions approach the design process and learn from them.
How can people get involved?
Just like our other divisions (Eastern US, Western US and Europe/Middle East) you can join a division and start by participating in TEA events such as mixers, backstage tours, education panel discussions and more importantly by joining a committee. Being directly involved in our events is the best way to meet the community and benefit from what TEA has to offer. As long as you are a company who is doing work in Asia, or are looking to do work in Asia, you can join the Asian division.
Has your work with Electrosonic in Asia informed what the Asian division should be at all?
Absolutely. Companies like Electrosonic, Birket, Adirondack, Super 78, BRC and others have been working in the Asian market for a long time. We care about our business in those areas and we want to make sure companies working in that part of the world can benefit and learn from our mistakes and experiences.
What challenges can TEA address?
Some of the biggest challenges TEA faces is in helping foreign companies better understand contracting and labor laws and educating companies in this division on how to do business in China or Singapore. One of our goals is to set up conduits to deliver those answers with help from other organizations. There are numerous organizations throughout Asia that specifically cater to foreign companies to help them do business in Asia. The TEA will form alliances with these organizations such as the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and hopefully serve as a conduit to these organizations for the TEA.
How does this support the long-term growth plan for TEA?
TEA’s long-term plan is really to be self-sufficient and provide tangible benefits to our membership. Right now educational seminars and backstage tours and access to the industry are the main benefits we provide, but we need to expand those in order to move forward. • • •
Chris Conte is the Vice President of the Entertainment division at Electrosonic, where he is responsible for Electrosonic’s entertainment business worldwide, including themed parks and attractions, museums, visitor centers and other leisure entertainment venues.