Wednesday, February 21, 2024


TEA Europe & Middle East Division to host professionals at PortAventura World, Spain

by Martin Palicki

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) is preparing to welcome the industry back to the first, in-person SATE conference since the start of the pandemic. Taking place near Barcelona Sept 30-Oct 2, 2021, SATE Europe is hosted at PortAventura World (above), immediately following the IAAPA Europe Expo (Sept 27-30, also in Barcelona). Sessions reflect the SATE thematic structure (Storytelling + Architecture + Technology = Experience). We asked TEA Past President and SATE Europe Team Chair David Willrich for background.

How has SATE evolved during the pandemic?

We have learned that SATE can be effective in person and virtually. Recently, TEA staged a very successful online SATE consisting of four episodes, along with a bonus episode featuring legendary designer Joe Rohde being interviewed by TEA International Board member Evi Sari of Nickelodeon Experience Design. Though this was quite a different structure designed to run online, the philosophy remained true to our SATE brand.

What takeaways do you hope attendees will have from the conference?
David Willrich

Inspiration! We really hope that people will feel inspired by SATE, reconfirming their commitment and enjoyment of working in our industry. Hopefully in these stressful times they leave feeling confident that the industry is picking up and will thrive again providing opportunities for all those that seek them.

Here are some of the sessions we are highlighting. Abbigail Ollive of Castle Howard will talk about how to reach potential Chinese visitors and breaking boundaries of cultural differences. TEA EME Board members Chris Lange of Creative Studio Berlin and Suzy Griffiths of PWR Events Ltd. will present “Breaking boundaries without breaking your life,” focusing on the oft overlooked work-life balance. Alexander Bresinsky of MKT engineering GmbH & Co. KG will discuss the push and pull between digital and physical experiences. Finally, Irina Grabarnik of Unlimited Leisure Holding B.V. will examine how physical activities can impact storytelling.

How will networking be integrated into SATE this year?

SATE Europe has always been as much about networking as it has the sessions – our evening dinners are really popular. With thanks to our hosts and sponsors, every evening is different in terms of food, theme and venue, whilst still providing ample opportunity to network with different people. Naturally, there is time to network during the day in breaks and at lunch. We deliberately have informal seating plans to let everyone mix as they wish.

What changes can people expect on the health and safety front?

This is a dynamic situation, so things may change from day to day. I can say with certainty that we will follow the rules of the host park (PortAventura World) and country (Spain).

How are you handling travel uncertainties?

This is outside of our control, however we can refund the conference fee if someone is unable to travel.

Is SATE Europe important for people outside of the region to attend?

In keeping with all SATE conferences, SATE Europe is still very much a global conference taking a global view, albeit from a European perspective. It is very relevant to any member who is working globally in our industry. Prior to COVID our numbers were growing every year, including attendees from 27 countries for the 2019 SATE event in France. Interestingly, we had a good number of members attending from North America, plus a few from Asia.

What are you most looking forward to at the event?

I am really excited to see industry friends and colleagues IN PERSON again! I’m particularly excited to visit PortAventura World with everyone and explore everything the park has to offer, including the TEA Thea-honored Sesame Street: Street Mission attraction.

Is there anything else you want people to know about SATE Europe?

If you have never been to a SATE Europe, come and join us! You will be very welcome. If you have attended before, we look forward to welcoming you back! • • •

Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki owns and publishes InPark Magazine. Started in 2004, InPark Magazine provides owners and operators the perspective from "in"side the "park." Martin has also written for publications like Sound & Communications, Lighting & Sound America, Attractions Management and others. Martin has been featured in Time Magazine, and Folio. Martin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

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