Lunch Sessions Serve Up Wisdom from Industry Leaders

Bob White and Jane Cooper to offer insight during daily luncheon sessions

By Scott Fais

How to turn a routine ride stoppage into positive press and tips for inspiring the next generation of theme park leaders are on the menu this week at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2017. Several educational sessions centered around sitting down to lunch will give attendees an opportunity to network with attractions colleagues from around the world, while learning from global theme park leaders.
For an idea of the content you can expect from these popular sessions, read on. Keep in mind, these lunches sell out quickly—if you're interested in make sure to check online for tickets.
At noon on Monday, Bob White, chief operating officer from Village Roadshow Theme Parks in Australia, will outline how his parks take control of social media posts during the sold-out lunch. The executive overseeing properties like Sea World, Wet'n'Wild water parks, and Warner Bros. Movie World, will outline how park owners and marketing professionals can fight “clickbait.” Bob White“We live in a much more transparent age and traditional tactics to deal with communication issues need to be reconsidered,” White said. His presentation will answer the question the team at Village Roadshow asked themselves: “How do [we] manage incidents when every patron could be streaming the event live on Facebook or FaceTime?”
Videos of basic ride stoppages tagged with sensational titles like “Riders Trapped on Coasters” can damage reputations. White will explain how his parks are using simple storytelling methods on social media to turn ride stoppages into conversation starters.
“My presentation explains the process we went through to deal with those concerns, including some missteps, but, ultimately, settling on some new approaches that may benefit other operators,” White said.
White will also share how owners and operators can find talent already in their ranks who can be credible and knowledgeable on camera.
Attendees will leave knowing how attractions of any size can use social media to take back control of the message.

Monday, Nov. 13: 12-1:45 p.m.
Room: S310
Must be 18 or older to attend. Separate ticket and Expo badge required for entry.
$60 IAAPA Members; $80 Nonmembers.
Tickets should be purchased in advance as space is limited and may sell out. Tickets are available online.

On Wednesday, the now sold out Attractions Constituency Lunch and Keynote Address features industry veteran Jane Cooper. The president and COO of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation (HFE) has seen it and done it all. What started as a summer job at one of Paramount’s theme parks in 1972, turned into a career with Paramount Parks stretching more than 25 years.
JaneCooper“When I was getting my start, I was fortunate to have some great mentors. I also took advantage of all the learning and networking opportunities IAAPA offers,” Cooper said. “Now it’s a matter of paying it forward and encouraging the next generation of leaders to work hard and stay the course.”
HFE is the nation’s largest family-owned themed attractions company, with notable properties such as Dollywood and Silver Dollar City, along with more than 20 additional hospitality locations spanning nine states.
“I’ll be sharing a little about Herschend Family Entertainment’s history and diving more into what makes HFE unique,” Cooper said. “And just for this audience, I will share my secrets to success in this industry, and what I have learned over the years.”
Cooper takes a personal approach to business and will do so during Wednesday’s Constituency Lunch and Keynote Address: “It’s all about people. Herschend is successful because we hire and empower great employees to focus on delivering a memorable experience for our guests. Without our employees or guests, nothing else matters.”

Wednesday, Nov. 15: 12-2 p.m.
Room: S230FGH

Cooper and White's sessions are sold out, but are just two of a weeklong collection of luncheons. Additional lunch sessions are scheduled for water parks, FECs, operators, and more. Find a complete listing online.