Jenn Heinold, senior vice president of events at Access Intelligence, is a—ahem—Jenn-of-all-trades. In her role for the B2B media company, Heinold manages the operations team responsible for the production and planning of more than 200 events in five different markets: aerospace, health care, energy, media and marketing. Its largest event is the annual Satellite trade show, which attracts nearly 15,000 satellite communication professionals and 350 exhibitors to Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. We sat down with Heinold to learn how she got started in the industry 14 years ago and how she keeps up with each of the markets she serves.
How did you get into event planning?
Honestly, like most, I just fell into it, but I quickly fell in love with it. I love the business of trade shows. If we do our jobs right, we are the stewards for the communities we serve. We should deliver the next customer to our customer, and help the industries move forward. You can tell when business is done on a show floor, and that’s the magical part of what we do.
What’s it like planning your events?
The best analogy I ever heard is if you can run a trade show, you can run a small business. The trade show teams consist of sales, marketing, content development and operations, so we do everything, from booking the venue to selling the booths to getting the people—“the asses in the aisles,” as people like to say. That’s what’s involved.
What considerations do you make when booking a venue or selecting a destination?
For us, we certainly try to listen to the markets first: Where does our audience want to go? Fun factor always plays a big part for us. We see a lot of our attendees making our annual trade show a vacation getaway, so we want to make sure we’re going to a destination that would make for a great experience all around.
If we’re not thinking about the destination as a fun and attractive place to visit, we’re thinking about what city has the best potential for attendance for the industry. Washington, D.C., is a great location for our Satellite show because there’s a lot of satellite technology and providers in D.C. That gives us an immediate boost.