• #HeresWhy Q&A: Detra Page

    In our next installment of our #HeresWhy industry Q&A sessions, we interviewed Detra Page, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications for GES:

    How did you get started in the exhibitions and event industry?

    As a native of Las Vegas, the meetings and events industry had always intrigued me. In fact, my mom used to work for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which exposed me to trade shows and events even more. I’ve always been a public relations professional, but my career in the events industry started unexpectedly.

    While attending the University of Nevada Las Vegas, I was also working for the Nevada Power Company. I knew corporate communications was what I wanted to do, so I worked my way up from customer service to corporate communications analyst and spokesperson. After three years, I accepted a position at Sprint, where I served as the media relations manager for their Western region for about 7 years. I really enjoyed it and wasn’t looking for a new job, but a friend told me about a job opening at GES, thought it would be perfect for me and referred me. And here I am!

    What’s been the most memorable moment of your career?

    There are a lot of things I can think back on and feel really good about, and I’ve really enjoyed working on our acquisitions, but the memory that stands out the most is when the GES team rallied after Hurricane Katrina to help our New Orleans coworkers.

    The employees in our New Orleans office had been severely impacted, and the corporate phones were ringing off the hook with employees from other locations asking what they could do and voicing their desire to help. Our team was able to set up an employee recovery contribution fund to help our fellow GES employees, and we raised $180,000 in donations to assist those families and individuals.

    GES and its employees really stepped up and found ways to help those who lost everything. Employees were so passionate about giving to their coworkers, and it was one of those times where the industry itself proves it’s a big family. Working on something that had such a meaningful impact is something I’m still very proud of.

    What about your job, events or the industry would surprise non-industry people?

    I think people underestimate the value of exhibiting at a trade show and even attending one. The importance of it from a business standpoint might be lost on those who aren’t a part of the industry. I know when I first started, I wasn’t fully aware of the industry’s impact on the economy and just how much business gets done at trade shows. But there’s no place like the trade show floor and no better place to do business.

    There’s so much value in meeting people face-to-face, shaking someone’s hand and demoing all of the different, available products in one place. Instead of spending time and money traveling to potential clients or partners all around the country. Trade shows allow buyers and influencers to meet in one place and spend time together.

    The industry is also a large job creator and sustainer. Whether it’s filling airports, hotels or restaurants with people attending meetings and shows, or paying taxi or Uber drivers and bell hops, the trickle-down effect of events from an economic standpoint is terrific for the host city.

    Why are advocacy efforts important?

    It’s important to educate businesses and community leaders on the value that exhibitions provide for individuals, companies and the economy alike. The business that gets done and the relationships that are forged in one or two days on the trade show floor is unparalleled.

    Getting the word out helps shift the boss’ mindset from “Oh, I’m sending this person off to x city for x days and how much is it going to cost me,” to “This is professionally beneficial for this person and our company because of x, y and z.”

    Whether it’s meeting with officials at Exhibitions Day or even just posting on social media, it’s important to spread the word so companies continue to allow people to attend and invest in the industry.

    Are you seeing any trends or topics that should take center stage?

    The events industry hasn’t been known for being on the cutting edge of technology. That’s now becoming more important, and companies are doing a better job. Innovation and technology have always been important to GES and in March, we acquired Poken, a company that focuses on visitor engagement and data insights. Poken boosts engagement, drives networking and measures interactions. It allows visitors to both exchange information and gain content instantaneously, and is an exciting addition to GES.

    It’s important for companies and shows to use technology within exhibits themselves but also technology that attendees can use at the show that’s useful and helpful for them. I think the importance of technology will continue to grow, and in the last few years, the industry has come a long way.

    Why would you encourage people to pursue a career in the events and exhibitions industry?

    This industry is so unique — you learn so much about business in general but also different industry sectors. I remember shortly after I started at GES being at the American College of Cardiology Show where I was literally touching human hearts. A few weeks later, I was at Waste Expo where they were auctioning off beautiful garbage trucks. There’s a show for everything, and you get to be a part of events that bring in people from all over the world.

    People told me when I first started I would either be in and out pretty quickly or I would stay forever. I thought I’d maybe be here for 5-6 years. It’s now been 13 years. People get into the business and absolutely love it. It’s a lot of time with clients and coworkers, and you become one big family. We’re all working hard to make sure we provide the best service possible and that these events are a place where companies can do great business and achieve positive ROI.

    The opportunity to travel is another great part of this industry. If someone is interested in traveling and seeing cities all over the country and world, this is a great career for them. My one caveat to that is to add a personal day or two when going somewhere. Some people don’t make the time to enjoy the cities they go to. They may land at the airport, go straight to the hotel which is connected to the convention center, and then go straight back to the airport after it’s all said and done. So, if your schedule and personal budget allows, explore and learn about the cities you visit!

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