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IAAPA Virtual Conference: EMEA and APAC


Event Type: Education
Venue: Online
Member Price:  $149 | Nonmember Price: $599 | Join IAAPA now and save. The rest of 2020 membership will be free and the membership will be valid until end 2021!


This September, we are bringing the IAAPA classroom to you. With so much invaluable peer-to-peer expertise sharing, this new, innovative education platform allows you to virtually gather while strengthening your leadership. Our education team specifically tailored and hand-picked timely topics around marketing, leadership, and operations as key skillset areas for success.

Without moving away from your desk, take part in IAAPA Virtual Conference: EMEA and APAC. Hear from leading cross-industry thought experts and speakers and network with peers. Visit and explore behind the scenes and ask questions. All online, right at your fingertips.


Registration for this event is closed.
Contact [email protected] with last-minute requests.



3 Keynotes | 12 Education Sessions | 3 Virtual EDUTours | 3 Networking Roundtables

Total: 21 Sessions


Please note that the agenda is subject to change.




Day 1 (Tue 22 Sept 2020) 

Day 2 (Wed 23 Sept 2020) 

Day 3 (Thu 24 Sept 2020) 




Leadership & Team Management 


Attractions Operations 




Tom Mehrmann's Leadership Story

Tom Mehrmann, President and General Manager, Universal Beijing Resort

Marketing at Europa-Park - Transforming Entertainment for Generations to Come

David Lämmel, Director of Marketing, Sales & Digital, Europa-Park

Transitioning Operations to What We Need Now

Gina Claassen, Corporate Safety Director, Herschend Family Entertainment




Leading an Organization Through Change

Andreas Andersen, President and CEO, Liseberg

From Anonymous Guest to Loyal Member - The Digital Transformation

Jonas Buhl Gregersen, Senior Vice President, IT & Business Development, Tivoli Gardens
Michala Svane, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Tivoli Gardens

Limiting Attendance Numbers - How to Find Balance Between Capacity and the Guest Experience  

Lukas Metzger, Head of Park Operations, Europa-Park
Coen Bertens, Director Themepark, Efteling
Patrick Marx, Head of New Development & Masterplanning, MackNeXT




Leading with Significance - Developing the Most Effective Leadership Skills

Shawn Welch, Chief Equipping Officer, the Shawn Welch Company

Better Together - How Interbranch Cooperation Can Lead to Innovation During Challenging Times

Stephanie Schaub, CEO, Chocoversum
Ella Domaschkin, Marketing Assistant, Chocoversum
Tobias Lagaly, CEO, EXPOnow GmbH

The Operations of "Where Water Meets Wonder"

Alan Mahony, Vice President Marine & Waterpark Operations, Atlantis Resorts




Providing Continuous Leadership at an Ever-Changing Attraction

Ali Alsuwaidi, COO, Global Village

Engage and Connect with Consumers in New and Immersive Ways Through Experiences

Eddie Newquist, Partner and Creative Executive, MinaLima Los Angeles

How the attractions industry can connect with new audiences through a purpose-led approach

Ville Aarresuo, Development Director, Särkänniemi
Ben Thompson, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of International, Storyland Studios




Legendary Leadership: Listening, Adapting, and Evolving Through a Crisis

Dr. Allan Zeman, GBM, GBS, JP, Chairman, Lan Kwai Fong Group

Getting Found Online - Today and Tomorrow

John Collins, Chief Strategy Officer, Theme Park Holding Ltd.

Futurizing Retail Now In The Attractions World

Brad Loxley, Chief Operating Officer, Sun World Holding Vietnam




Virtual EDUTour: Empowering Your Staff - Practical Examples From Linnanmäki

Pia Adlivankin, CEO and General Manager, Linnanmäki

Virtual EDUTour: The Art of Going Viral at Walibi Holland

Marc Guffens, Director Marketing & Sales, Walibi Holland

Virtual EDUTour: Attractions Operations of Atlantis Sanya

Alan Mahony, Vice President Marine & Waterpark Operations, Atlantis Resorts




Networking Roundtable on Leadership

Networking Roundtable on Marketing

Networking Roundtable on Operations








Agenda at a Glance



Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tom Mehrmann

Tom Mehrmann, President and General Manager, Universal Studios Beijing Park and Resort

Tom Mehrmann is the President and General Manager for Universal Beijing Resort, responsible for the overall development of Universal Beijing Resort, including overseeing daily operations and the resort’s opening.

Before joining Universal Beijing Resort in 2017 with his more than four decades’ industry knowledge and international experience, Tom was the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Ocean Park for 13 years. In addition to managing day-to-day operations, Tom led a redevelopment of the theme park that resulted in record-breaking attendance and annual revenue growth. Under Tom’s leadership, Ocean Park Hong Kong became Asia’s first ever recipient of the prestigious “Applause Award” in 2012, the most significant recognition within the global attraction industry.

Tom’s theme park career began in 1977, when he joined Knott’s Berry Farm in the US. Over the course of two decades, he progressively took on various leadership roles and eventually becoming the Vice President of Park Operations and Entertainment at Knott’s Berry Farm. Later in 1998, Tom joined Six Flags Marine World as Vice President and General Manager, overseeing the redevelopment, rebranding and repositioning of the Park outside of San Francisco. Subsequently, he became Vice President and General Manager of Warner Bros. Movie World in Spain in 2000 when the park was acquired by Six Flags in 2000.

In addition to earning industry-wide recognition and success in the theme park industry, Tom is also enthusiastically committed to community development and promoting tourism. Tom is a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). He also cowrote and published a book in 2017/2018 about the management and leadership principles that allowed Ocean Park to achieve the success it did over 10 straight years. The book is titled: “Taming the Mouse”.

Tom graduated from California State University, Fullerton, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. He also completed the Advanced Courses organized by IAAPA in Theme Park Management at Cornell University, New York.

We live in turbulent times. With change happening faster and faster, the need for flexible strategies increases. And the same applies to organizations, which in the future will have to be both adaptive and agile. This presentation will focus on what kind of leadership that is needed in this new reality.

Andreas Andersen IAAPA Chairman 2018

Andreas Andersen, President and CEO, Liseberg

Andreas Veilstrup Andersen is the CEO and President of the Liseberg Group, running Scandinavia's biggest amusement park in Gothenburg, Sweden. Andreas has a legal and financial background, and has been working in the amusement park industry since 2000, first at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, and later as Executive Director of IAAPA's (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) European Operations in Brussels, Belgium. In 2018, Andreas served as Chairman of IAAPA's Board of Directors.

Leadership guru John Maxwell says “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” That means that the success of this season depends directly on you and your leadership team. Unfortunately, for many of us, our personal leadership training and development has been very limited and mainly regulated to improvement in our position and park responsibilities. For many aspiring leaders, like yourself, you either don’t know where to begin on this leadership journey or somehow got off the path. You want to develop those leadership skills further but you’re not sure how. In this session, you will learn the key skills or characteristics that separate great leaders from the merely good ones. You’ll be given a blueprint on how you can become the best version of yourself so you can lead others to become the best versions of themselves.

Shawn Welch

Shawn Welch, Chief Equipping Officer, Shawn Welch Company

Shawn Welch is the founder and Chief Equipping Officer of the Shawn Welch Company (SWCo). SWCo exists to help organizations and individuals level-up their leadership through learning and development. They provide customizable solutions through 1:1 and group coaching, leadership and management training, and personal development programs.

Before starting SWCo, Shawn was on the founding team of Typhoon Texas Waterparks and served as their Director of Organizational Development. He is a regular speaker at the IAAPA Expo and also the World Waterpark Association (WWA) Show. Shawn is a Brass Ring Award winner for Best Rewards and Recognition Program in 2017 and received the Best Speaker Award at the WWA show last year.

Ali Alsuwaidi

Ali Alsuwaidi, Chief Operating Officer, Global Village

Ali Al Suwaidi joined the team at Global Village, the Middle East's foremost family destination for culture, shopping and entertainment, in 2018 as Chief Operating Officer. As a leading expert in Facilities Management, Ali has more than two decades of experience spanning several positions, including Senior Facilities Management Manager at Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.

He is the Ambassador of the Europe Facility Management Association in the UAE, a Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Middle East Facility Management Association (MEFMA), a member of the Board of the Global Facility Management Association, and most recently became an Advisory Board member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Middle East and North Africa (IAAPA MENA) in January 2020.

Keen to share his knowledge in the industry, Al Suwaidi is a regular speaker at conferences worldwide, including the 2019 IAAPA annual Leadership Conference in Dubai. He has presented numerous papers on best practice in the facility management sector as well as on the future of the industry in the region. Al Suwaidi also runs workshops on facilities management through volunteer work at Dubai Real Estate College, the educational arm of the Dubai Land Department, and has conducted a webinar on safety culture.

Al Suwaidi adds considerable expertise to the Global Village leadership team whose experience and capabilities has made the region's largest multicultural festival park amongst the most successful in the world, welcoming over seven million guests every season. Ali Al Suwaidi has held previous roles with leading organisations such as Emaar Properties, Abu Dhabi Ports, lmdaad and ldama.

He holds an electrical engineering degree from the University of Toledo in the United States and an MBA from the American University of Sharjah.

Allan Zeman

Dr. Allan Zeman, GBM, GBS, JP, Chairman, Lan Kwai Fong Group

Dr. Allan Zeman, GBM, GBS, JP, founded the Colby International Group in 1975 to source and export fashion apparel to North America. In late 2000, The Colby International Group merged with Li & Fung Limited. Dr. Zeman then founded and is the Chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group, a major property owner and developer in Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong Area, one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist and entertainment districts. The new California Tower at the heart of Lan Kwai Fong which features cues to the Group’s flair for design and attracted the top leisure brands that will take the district to new heights. Dr. Zeman is also the Chairman of the Lan Kwai Fong Association.

Lan Kwai Fong Group in recent years, has expanded to various cities in China which include Chengdu, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Lan Kwai Fong Chengdu was opened in 2009. Dr. Zeman is also the owner of Paradise Properties Group, a property developer in Thailand which includes the award winning Andara Resort in Phuket.

Dr. Zeman is the Vice Patron of Hong Kong Community Chest and serves as a director of the "Star" Ferry Company, Limited. Dr. Zeman also serves as the Non-Executive Director of Pacific Century Premium Developments Limited and is an independent non-executive director of Sino Land Company Limited, Tsim Sha Tsui Properties Limited, Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), Global Brands Group Holding Limited and Fosun Tourism Group, all of which are listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Dr. Zeman is also the Non-Executive Chairman of Wynn Macau Limited, a prominent gaming operator in the US and Macau.

Having lived in Hong Kong for over 50 years, Dr. Zeman has been very involved in government services as well as community activities. Besides having been the Chairman of Hong Kong Ocean Park, a major theme park in Hong Kong, from July 2003 to June 2014 and is now an honorary advisor, he is also a member of the General Committee of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and Hong Kong China's representative to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council ("ABAC HK Members"). Dr. Zeman is a member of the board of Governors of The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. Dr. Zeman was a member of the Board of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, and the chairman of its Performing Arts Committee from 2008 to 2016 and is now a honorary advisor.

In September 2014, Dr. Zeman was invited by former HKSAR Chief Executive Mr. CH Tung to be a Special Advisor to his Our Hong Kong Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting the long-term and overall interests of Hong Kong. In June 2015, Dr. Zeman was appointed as a Board Member of the Airport Authority of Hong Kong. In November 2015, Dr. Zeman was appointed to the board of directors of The Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund launched by Alibaba Group.

In March 2018, Dr. Zeman was appointed by the HKSAR Chief Executive as a member of the HKSAR Chief Executive's Council of Advisers on Innovation and Strategic Development which aims to provide advice to the Chief Executive on Hong Kong's strategic positioning in the global and regional contexts and direction of economic development aiming at enhancing Hong Kong's competitiveness and growth potential.

Dr. Zeman has been a member of the Human Resources Planning Commission (HRPC) since March 2018, which was a new initiative announced in the Chief Executive's 2017 Policy Address and is chaired by the HKSAR Chief Secretary. It aims at formulating coordinated human resources strategies for developing Hong Kong further into a high value-added and more diversified economy.

In 2001, Dr. Zeman was appointed as a Justice of the Peace in Hong Kong. He was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star in 2004 and the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2011. In 2008, Dr. Zeman was awarded Business Person of the Year by the Hong Kong Business Award. In 2012, Dr. Zeman was awarded Honorary Doctorate Degrees of Business Administration from City University of Hong Kong and University of Science and Technology of Hong Kong. In 2019, Dr Zeman was awarded Honorary Doctorate Degrees of Business Administration from Open University of Hong Kong.

Pia Adlivankin

Pia Adlivankin, CEO and General Manager, Linnanmäki

Pia has a broad experience in managerial work in the hospitality and amusement industry. She always aima to exceed set budgetary goals and drive the organisation to reach the commonly set long term strategy goals.

She strongly believe success is found by creating a positive, supportive and energetic work environment, where a leader must constantly motivate the staff to reach even higher standards of service, while making sure that the staff feels appreciated and enabled to constantly learn and participate.

Pia is very proud that Linnanmäki Amusement Park was recognized as one of Finland’s Great Place to Work 2019 and 2020 large organizations (+ 500 staff members).

She lived over 12 years of her life outside of Finland (USA, Sweden and Germany), guaranteeing excellent language skills and an understanding of a versatile workforce and customer base. Pia has also acquired the best possible hospitality management service oriented education both in Finland and internationally.

Networking discussion through guided conversation on learning of the day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Learn from David Lämmel, Director of Marketing, Sales & Digital at Europa-Park, about his marketing strategy and how he and his team handle the challenge of meeting today’s consumer expectations.

David Lammel

David Lämmel, Director Marketing, Sales & Digital, Europa-Park

David Lämmel, Director Marketing, Sales & Digital at Europa-Park, has a media background, e.g. 6 years in Marketing and Sales at WELT a Axel Springer Media Brand in Berlin and also worked for Hubert Burda Media. He is responsible for customer and communication related topics at Europa-Park including e.g. Marketing, Sales, Partnerships, Digital, Media Production and PR. Father of two kids, tennis volunteer and player. Interested to see how technology is changing industries. He is honored to be part of that journey in the attractions industry with Europa-Park.

Learn how Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second oldest amusement park, successfully took major steps in their digital transformation. By working cross-functionally with a strong guest journey perspective and digital focus, they´ve developed the business and established a way of working, where data-driven and personalized communication is core. Discover how they introduced new digital initiatives and made the transition from a traditional annual card program to a digital subscription-based business model.

Jonas Gregersen

Jonas Buhl Gregersen, Senior Vice President, IT & Business Development, Tivoli Gardens

Jonas Buhl Gregersen serves as Senior Vice President, IT & Business Development and member of the Executive team in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. He and his team are responsible for the architecture, development and operations of the complete IT stack – from ticket systems, F&B point-of-sale, CRM, data collection and storage, various digital solutions, etc. Recently he also got responsibility for the general business development and innovation initiatives in Tivoli.

Jonas has an entrepreneurial background – founding and running an IT Outsourcing and Development company very successfully for more than 15 years, until selling it to a private equity fund and joining Tivoli.

Michala Svane

Michala Svane, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Tivoli Gardens

Michala Svane serves as Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing and member of the Executive team in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. She and her team are responsible for strategic planning of both domestic and international marketing and sales effort as well as the development of the digital and social media channels in Tivoli.

Michala worked with digital business development and marketing for more than 15 years and won a number of prizes for her work with datadriven omnichannel communication. Besides her work in Tivoli Michala is jury chairman at the Danish Digital Award.

In challenging times, teaming up with others to share efforts can be very effective. Join this session to learn more about cooperation between facilities. What is cooperation, and how can it be successful? After a brief theoretical study, we will explore some successful interbranch partnerships between attractions and other sectors.


Stephanie Schaub, CEO, Chocoversum

After 5 years of working in the 5-star hotel business Stephanie studied tourism & leisure management in Austria. After graduating she moved to Bremen to work for the company „Wissenswelten Management GmbH“. This company takes care of the management for several brands and museums. One of the customers is the Hachez Chocoversum Gmbh – a chocolate museum in the center of Hamburg, where Stephanie works as managing director.

Ella Domaschkin

Ella Domaschkin, Marketing Assistant, Chocoversum

Ella Domaschkin works as a Marketing Assistant at Hachez Chocoversum GmbH, focussing on different Online Marketing channels and the cooperation management concerning the ‘Hamburger Genusswelten’. She has a BA degree in Cultural Organizations and Business Administration and an MA degree in Cultural Studies.

Tobias Lagaly

Tobias Lagaly, CEO, EXPOnow GmbH

Tobias Lagaly studied Business Administration with the main subjects international Accounting, Finance and Controlling. He was responsible for the center management of shopping centers of various sizes from 2004 to 2014. Since 2008 lecturer for center management at the Deutsche Immobilien Akademie at the University of Freiburg. In 2012 author on the topic of shopping center management at IZ Immobilien Zeitung Verlagsgesellschaft. Since 2015 he has been intensively involved in the conception, sales and marketing of shopping center exhibitions and events in his own personal company and since 2019 as CEO of EXPOnow GmbH, which he founded. EXPOnow GmbH specializes in entertainment in shopping centers in Germany and Europe.

The global event and experience industries are undergoing a massive shift as the public’s desire for immersive experiences in a safe and secure environment is at an all time high. Creating, Producing and Marketing attractions and exhibitions in this new era of “Immersement” challenges the status quo. Throughout this presentation industry veteran Eddie Newquist of the design agency MinaLima Los Angeles will draw on his rich history of working with brands such as Frozen, Avatar, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter to highlight recent trends, challenges and industry opportunities.

Eddie Newquist

Eddie Newquist, Creative Executive/Partner, MinaLima Los Angeles

With more than 35 years in branded experiences, Eddie Newquist and his team at MinaLima Los Angeles excel in the creation, development, production and marketing of events, exhibitions, attractions and theme parks. He has worked with blockbuster series such as Frozen, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, CARS, Jurassic Park, Avatar and the Terminator. Eddie is a Partner and Creative Executive at MinaLima Los Angeles. MinaLima is the creative agency behind all of the Harry Potter and Fantastic beasts films. Eddie has won several THEA award and holds multiple patents. He is best known for creating the blockbuster global touring exhibition Harry Potter: The Exhibition and he has created successful projects for The Walt Disney Company, Imagineering, HBO, Universal Studios, National Geographic and the BBC.

As the market continues to evolve for suppliers and owners in the amusement industry -- driven by both progress and circumstance -- so too does effective marketing: conventional advertising is a bit passé, trade-shows and face-to-face meetings are challenging, and online is the place to be seen and found. Attend this session to learn some strategies for focusing and accelerating your online presence and message today, and setting yourself up for success over the next few years.


John Collins, Chief Strategy Officer, Theme Park Holding Ltd.

As founder of MessagingWorks™ John has been providing business-to-business strategic marketing advice for more than 20 years, to clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies such as D&B and Intuit to many suppliers in the amusement industry. John also served as Marketing Creative Director for ProSlide, where he led the corporate marketing messaging process, all branding and advertising, website redesign, trade show messaging and design, and other marketing functions. Before ProSlide, John was an award-winning Creative Director for a decade at McMillan, a global B2B marketing agency. John is currently also Chief Strategic Officer for the ThemeparX™ Supplier 100, where he has led the messaging and branding for the Supplier 100 and works to increase membership and member satisfaction.

Marc Guffens

Marc Guffens, Director Marketing & Sales, Walibi Holland

In 1999, Marc Guffens started as Marketing & Sales Director in Bellewaerde, where he got introduced to the magical world of amusement parks. In 2001, he moved to Walibi Belgium to prepare the rebranding of the park to Six Flags. A rebranding that had to be rethought entirely after four years, when Six Flags became Walibi again. Marc describes this as a “Twice a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for a marketeer’. In the following years, Marc held multiple positions at both Walibi Belgium and Bellewaerde, to finally become CMO of Walibi Belgium when the park was planning to announce a big transformation plan.

Since May 2019, Marc is Marketing & Sales Director for Walibi Holland and Walibi Village, to expand the target audience towards families and children.

Networking discussion through guided conversation on learning of the day.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Gina Claassen

Gina Claassen, Corporate Safety Director, Herschend Family Entertainment

As Corporate Safety Director, Gina leads the day-to-day safety program across the Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE) portfolio. She works alongside HFE leadership to ensure consistent compliance across properties and departments. With a proactive approach, she has helped develop and implement long-term plans to enhance the company’s safety program.

Gina joined HFE in 1998 and began her career in the amusement industry working in the attractions division at Silver Dollar City. Since then, she has served in various roles at Herschend Family Entertainment, focusing on operations, safety and maintenance.

Soon after joining HFE, Gina became involved with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) through its Ambassador program. She served as Chair of IAAPA’s Exhibitor Awards Committee and currently serves on the IAAPA Global Education Committee, Program Planning Committee and as the Chair of the Facility Operations Committee. She is a member of ASTM F-24 and the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO). Gina speaks regularly at industry conferences and was previously featured in IAAPA’s Member Spotlight and Amusement Today’s Women of Influence.

In addition to being an IAAPA Certified Attractions Executive, Gina maintains industry certifications for maintenance, inspection and operations from Amusement Industry Manufacturers and Suppliers International and NAARSO. She is a graduate of Missouri State University with a Bachelor degree in Entertainment Management.


Lukas Metzger

Lukas Metzger, Head of Park Operations, Europa-Park

Lukas Metzger started his first theme park job at the age of 16 as a student working at Europa-Park. During this time he discovered his passion for theme parks and all types of rides and decided to study Theme Park Management. From this then started his career working for Merlin Entertainments at the north German Heide-Park Resort as Guest Service Coordinator and later as Senior Hotel Operations Manager. In 2017 he returned to Europa-Park to become Personal Assistant of Michael Mack. In 2019 he then returned to his operations roots and progresses to become Head of Park Operations at the Mack family-owned amusement park.

Coen Bertens

Coen Bertens, Director Themepark, Efteling

Coen Bertens studied economics at TiasNimbas Business School. He worked for 10 years as Controller at Efteling. After that, he left Efteling to work as a Senior Business Controller for 6 months. In 2007 he returned to Efteling for the position of the Park manager. In 2014 he was promoted to the Board as CCO Efteling. After a change within the organization in 2018 Coen started as Director Park.

Patrick Marx

Patrick Marx, Head of New Development & Masterplanning, MackNeXT

Patrick Marx studied mechanical engineering in Switzerland. He worked as a ride engineering and project management for 5 Years with the amusement ride manufacturer ABC Rides Switzerland. Since now 5 years, he is working as a project manager for new rides and attractions at Europa-Park with a focus on the technical and operational aspects of an attraction. Besides that, he is also responsible at MackNeXT for the Project Management and Masterplanning department.

Alan Mahony

Alan Mahony, Vice President Marine & Waterpark Operations, Atlantis Resorts

Alan has worked in operations for the theme park industry for the past 35 years, the first 10 years with the Village Roadshow Theme parks in Australia, then the past 25 years based in Asia. During his time in Asia Alan has overseen the development and operations of industry leading projects including Atlantis Resort Sanya, China; Chimelong Water Park, Guangzhou, China; Beijing Watercube Waterpark, Beijing, China; Sunway Lagoon, KL, Malaysia; Ramayana Water Park, Chonburi, Thailand. Alan is currently the Vice President, Marine & Waterpark Operations at Atlantis Resort Sanya where he has successfully lead the Lost Chambers Aquarium & Aquaventure Waterpark to be the first facilities globally to reopen after the COVID-19 outbreak.

64% of millennial new parents say the environment is their #1 concern. 92% of Millennials say they are more likely to support ethical companies, (according to sustainable business consultants Brodie Partners).

Probably 100% of IAAPA members who have teenage children know that the generation coming through care passionately about the climate crisis, about social cohesion, justice and equality. Many younger people are really angry with the older generation for not caring enough and not doing enough. Increasingly consumers want to spend their time and money with brands that think and act in a purpose-driven manner.

What if there were a way to tap into the concerns of audiences young and old, and to create attraction content and experiences that were fully on brand, fully fun, immersive and awesome, but which also enable people to make a difference in the world? Wouldn’t it be great to do business and do good at the same time?

Missing media item.

Ville Aarresuo, Development Director, Särkänniemi

Ville Aarresuo has been working in the Attractions Industry for 20 years in various positions, including operations management, project management and park design. Currently he is the Development Director at Särkänniemi Theme Park located in Tampere, Finland, where he is mainly responsible for strategic and business development, customer content and digitalization.

Särkänniemi has always been a pioneer in the development of sustainable tourism. Ville Aarresuo has led this work in recent years when Särkänniemi has built a new responsibility programme that broadly covers various aspects of corporate responsibility.

Ben Thompson

Ben Thompson, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of International, Storyland Studios

Ben Thompson spent 20 years in major corporate brands, leading marketing, sales and strategy teams all over the world, first for Mars Incorporated where he joined on the graduate scheme and spent 11 years reaching Director level position, latterly as Director of Category Leadership. Ben moved to The Walt Disney Company in 2011 where in under 5 years he rose to become Regional Marketing Director for EMEA, leading the UK/EMEA marketing teams for what is now Disney Parks, Products and Experiences on Star Wars Episode VII (2015), Avengers Assemble (2012), Iron Man 3 (2014), Spider-Man 2 (2014), Frozen (2015), Cars 2 (2013) and Brave (2013).

Ben then moved to become Global Marketing Director role at Merlin where he held responsibility for the opening of 4 LEGOLAND®️ Parks and 40 Midway sites across the world, including development of 3 new brands; Little Big City, the Bear Grylls Adventure, and Peppa Pig Land.

In February 2018 Ben founded 9 Degrees West, a strategic marketing consultancy focussed on the experience economy that helps companies develop clear brand propositions and communications assets to acquire new customers and grow their revenues. 9 Degrees West’s clients included global children’s edutainment brand KidZania, the Cataratas Group (the largest park operator in South America), Europa-Park, and Tony’s Chocolonely for whom together with Storyland Studios, Ben is helping to build Tony’s Factory in Zaandam, Holland.

Ben was trained in strategy by Professor Don Sull of London Business School and Bain Consulting, and in marketing by Byron Sharpe of “How Brands Grow”. Ben has run several successful strategic transformation projects including a 2-year European category vision at Mars, the development of a new ecommerce and social media platform at Disney, and multiple new business projects at Merlin. Ben has demonstrated many times that he has the skills necessary to manage a large network of stakeholders across a complex project. Ben loves innovation and the big strategic challenge, and loves delivering work from idea to reality.

After meeting Mel McGowan at IAAPA in 2019 Ben and Storyland Studios formed first a friendship, then a successful client-partnership, and finally a marriage! Ben joined the Storyland team as Chief Strategy Officer and Head of International in August 2020. Ben will remain located just outside London, England to run the Storyland International office.

Brad Loxley

Brad Loxley, Chief Operating Officer, Sun World Holding Vietnam

A dynamic and passionate professional with more than 20 years experience within the theme parks, attractions and hospitality industry.

Brad is Chief Operating Officer of Sun World, the largest attractions operator in Vietnam – and oversees the operation of nine properties including theme parks, water parks, cable cars and cultural attractions that combined attract more than 10 million visitors per year.

Brad's experience combined with his Bachelor's Degree in Design and Business and Training qualifications make him a versatile, inspirational and creative manager who is renowned for strategic thinking outside the square, a hands-on approach, and a 'can do' attitude.

Brad's skill lies in integrating the artistic, operational and commercial aspects of an entertainment experience to create a memorable, unique, efficient and successful business operation. His vision and passionate leadership style inspire and motivates others to achieve excellence in presentation, operations, safety and service delivery. Brad is also a recognized leader in the international attractions industry, being a regular speaker at industry conferences and educational events, an IAAPA Committee Member, a former Board Member of the Australian Amusement, Leisure and Recreation Association (AALARA) and former IAAPA Committee Chair.

Alan Mahony

Alan Mahony, Vice President Marine & Waterpark Operations, Atlantis Resorts

Alan has worked in operations for the theme park industry for the past 35 years, the first 10 years with the Village Roadshow Theme parks in Australia, then the past 25 years based in Asia. During his time in Asia Alan has overseen the development and operations of industry leading projects including Atlantis Resort Sanya, China; Chimelong Water Park, Guangzhou, China; Beijing Watercube Waterpark, Beijing, China; Sunway Lagoon, KL, Malaysia; Ramayana Water Park, Chonburi, Thailand. Alan is currently the Vice President, Marine & Waterpark Operations at Atlantis Resort Sanya where he has successfully lead the Lost Chambers Aquarium & Aquaventure Waterpark to be the first facilities globally to reopen after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Networking discussion through guided conversation on learning of the day.


Leading to success  

Strong leadership is key in times of change. Thanks to IAAPA Virtual Conference: EMEA and APAC, you will be able to: 

  • Be part of top industry leaders’ online classroom and exchange forum 
  • Elevate your thinking and skills to new levels thanks to content specifically tailored to senior leaders 
  • Discover perspectives in the APAC and EMEA regions  
  • View behind the scenes and best practices from industry peers via virtual tours  

Furthering your knowledge is the best tool to face situations of change, and there’s no better way to do it than alongside international experts with vast experience in operations and leadership. 

Variety of online formats  

Three days full of inspiration and creativity aimed at senior industry professionals – whether you’re leading an attraction or a manufacturer or supplier company. We will deliver a fully packed programme combining keynote sessions, virtual EDUTours, and roundtable sessions. You may choose whether to attend the full schedule or join specific topics that fit around your busy agenda. 


What is IAAPA Virtual Conference? 

IAAPA Virtual Conference is a new online education event for the global attractions community to come together and take part in programs in their respective regional time zones. Two innovative events are taking place: IAAPA Virtual Conference: The Americas, Sept. 2-3, and IAAPA Virtual Conference: EMEA and APAC, Sept. 22-24. 

Will participation in IAAPA Virtual Conference: EMEA and APAC count toward my IAAPA Certification? 

Yes, by attending IAAPA Virtual Conference: EMEA and APAC, you can gain 15 credit hours, allowing you to fast-track toward your IAAPA Certification by simply joining us at the virtual event.  

In what format will IAAPA Virtual Conference: EMEA and APAC be delivered, and how many education sessions will be offered?  

During the three-day virtual event there will be over 20 live sessions available for all participants. The event will include education sessions and keynotes, virtual EDUTours, and roundtable discussions. If you are a registered attendee, simply follow access details provided via email. 

Will I be able to access the education content on-demand?  

Yes, most of the sessions will be available on-demand for a limited time once the conference concludes and are free of charge for all attendees. 

Can I attend IAAPA Virtual Conference: EMEA and APAC from any country?  

You can attend IAAPA Virtual Conference: EMEA and APAC if your country allows the use of VoIP services like Zoom or RingCentral. A list of countries blocking these services is available here. Also, make sure to take note of the timing of the conference and your local time. 

Code of Conduct

IAAPA Virtual Conference Code of Conduct


  • IAAPA virtual events provide an ideal opportunity to exchange information, participate in education sessions, and network. IAAPA is committed to providing a friendly, safe, and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. We expect all attendees, journalists, speakers, staff, volunteers, organizers, venue staff, vendors, and exhibitors to help us ensure a safe and positive experience for everyone. The guidelines for appropriate behavior and conduct at all IAAPA virtual events are listed below. Also included are the expectations for participant behavior, as well as the consequences for unacceptable behavior.
  • By registering for the IAAPA virtual event your contact information including name and company name will be visible during the event to other attendees as you interact in chat rooms, and shared with the event sponsors.
  • Do not initiate or participate in any activities that are prohibited below, illegal, harmful, or interfere with anyone's use of the virtual event, including the sending of e-mail or instant messaging spam.
  • Comply with all applicable local, national, and international laws and regulations and these Terms of Use.


Ethical and Appropriate Conduct


  • Be considerate, respectful, and collaborative.
  • Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior or speech.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings at all times.
  • Alert event venue security or a member of the IAAPA team if you notice a dangerous or harassing situation or someone in distress.


Prohibiting Activities

You are solely responsible for the activity which occurs under your user account. You are prohibited from, and agree not to:


  • create false user accounts, use another individual’s user account or otherwise access the virtual event in an unauthorized manner;
  • copy, modify, reproduce, transmit, republish, distribute or create derivatives of any of the content, software or materials available in the virtual event;
  • launch any automated system, including, but not limited to, “robots”, “spiders” or “offline readers” which access the virtual event platform in a manner that sends more request messages to the platform in a given period of time than a human can reasonably produce in the same period of time by using a conventional on-line web browser;
  • transmit material that contains malicious code, such as viruses, timebombs, cancelbots, worms, trojan horses, spyware, or other potentially harmful elements;
  • use the communication systems made available to you within the virtual event for commercial solicitation, unless expressly authorized to do so by the virtual event sponsor or intentionally omit, delete, forge or misrepresent transmission information, including headers, return mailing and internet protocol addresses;
  • collect or harvest any personally identifiable information;
  • make or submit any sexually explicit, racially, culturally or ethnically offensive, harmful, harassing, intimidating, threatening, hateful, discriminatory or abusive statements or content;
  • impersonate any other person or entity or stalk or otherwise harass any other user;
  • make or submit any obscene, hateful or otherwise offensive material, comments or content;
  • submit content which features pornographic, sexually explicit, describes or encourages dangerous our illegal acts, graphic or gratuitously violent content; or
  • invade another user’s privacy or publish another user’s personally identifiable information without such user’s consent.




  • IAAPA reserves the right to prohibit and prevent the attendance, participation, or registration of any individual or firm for any reason with the exclusive discretion of IAAPA, prior or during the virtual event. IAAPA need not disclose or describe the reasons for its decision to do so.


Sponsorship opportunities

Limited sponsorship opportunities for this exclusive event are NOW AVAILABLE. Now is your chance to support the industry and spotlight your company. For more information, download the Virtual Conference Sponsorship Prospectus here. To inquire, or for further details, contact Emily Popovich, Director of Global Sponsorships: +1 703 850 4115 or [email protected].

Thank you to our sponsor, Jeff Ellis and Associates, Inc.