Conference World Tour 2014: Mapping Out MAPIC with Dana Everhart

December 10, 2014

As we mentioned in a previous post, JRA was pleased to attend its first ever MAPIC Conference.  The show, which welcomed over 8,400 retail developers, designers and creators to Cannes, France, offered three days of product demonstrations, networking events and educational opportunities. Two of those lucky delegates were our own Dana Everhart and Rob Morgan, and Dana was kind (and lucky!) enough to share her impressions of the conference, and of the French Riviera. 


Day One

To kick things off on Monday, we spent time strolling LaCroisette, which is a mile-long promenade that gives incredible views of the Mediterranean and the rolling Estérel hills as well as exploring the nearby town. This also happened to be the walking path to and from the MAPIC convention, so we were able to get the lay of the land and make sure we knew exactly where to go once the doors opened Wednesday morning.


Rue Meynadler is lined with charming 18th-century houses, which have been repurposed as boutiques, selling everything from trendy and (relatively inexpensive) clothing to wine and cheese.

Day Two

After an initial day of sightseeing (and jet lag recovery), it was time for MAPIC!  At 8 a.m., the doors opened for the newcomers welcome meeting and tour.  This meeting explained the floor layout and gave advice on how to best navigate the show floor.

Day Three

The show floor was absolutely packed with people and all the booths were busy. We managed to talk to a few people but concentrated primarily on the seminar sessions given by industry colleagues.

Some of these sessions included: advice to mall owners and retailers about how they could gain a competitive edge by using entertainment / cultural anchors to bring more foot traffic into their stores, the design approach to best integrate entertainment and retail, how retailers and mall owners could learn a lot from the attractions industry about lengthening stay and how to increase spending and lastly, current trending and growth markets like China, Russia and Turkey.

Day Four

On the final day of MAPIC, the tradeshow floor was less crowded, so it was a great time to meet and talk with some of the show exhibitors and admire some of the fabulous retail projects that are in the near future.

Hey, look - it's Rob!

Day Five

The day after MAPIC wrapped, a fifteen-minute boat ride from Cannes landed my husband and I on the island of Sainte-Marguerite, where marked trails took us on a botanical and historical tour of the site.

We explored Fort Royal and the Musée de la Mer, which once held the Man in the Iron Mask captive. The excursion was a nice break after the frenzy of the conference.

Day Six

A short ride through the mountains and we were in Monaco touring sites like the Monte-Carlo Casino and the Place du Palais.

While traveling to Monaco we came across Eze and spent the day in the quaint medieval Mountain-side village with that hosted a variety of of shopping, restaurants, and breath taking views.

MAPIC was overall a great experience, and it certainly proved that retail (and in particular, themed retail, or "retailtainment") is alive and well.  We met some fantastic people, saw some great sights, and learned a lot about the themed retail industry. Looking forward to next year!


Thank you Dana for the update, and thank you readers for following us on our Conference World Tour 2014.  Next year, our journeys will take us to Dubai, Anaheim, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Hong Kong, Liseberg, Montreal, Orlando and back to Cannes, so stay tuned!








Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Outside the Studio

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World Premiere Movie: The 2014 IAAPA Expo...In Two Minutes or Less!

November 26, 2014

This year's International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo welcomed 30,500 attendees, making it the largest Expo in 17 years and the third largest in IAAPA's history.

To celebrate, we produced "The 2014 IAAPA...Expo in Two Minutes or Less," a raw, light-hearted look at the spirit of the Expo - one of our favorite weeks of the year.  We aspire to create this whimsical video annually, and hope you enjoy this world premiere (including a few cameos)!

From all of us to all celebrating, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. 

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Project Spotlight

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Conference World Tour 2014: Thinking BIG at IAAPA

November 13, 2014

Next week, over 27,000 industry professionals will converge at Orlando, Florida’s Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) for the 96th Annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo. Over five days, attendees from 40 countries will stroll nine miles of expo floor aisles (540,000 square feet of space), attend 80 educational sessions and 23 exclusive tours, and enjoy networking mixers at the OCCC, Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando. This year’s theme is “Big Starts Here”, an appropriate moniker given the gradual rebound of the industry following the Great Recession and the current trend toward re-investment and re-invigoration in both attractions and cultural facilities.

JRA team members will be sharing big ideas with IAAPA participants throughout the Expo via two separate panel sesssions. The week begins with IAAPA’s annual Museum Day, which offers a day of presentations particularly relevant to museums and science centers, followed by an evening networking reception. For the third year in a row, JRA’s Shawn McCoy will present on the latest visitor experience trends and how the cultural sector can benefit from them. This year, Shawn will explore how today’s museums can better connect with their audience by breaking down barriers. Through a series of fast-paced case studies, Shawn will provide examples of how new exhibits, programs and technologies are being used to blur the lines between curators and the public, are redefining the space in which museums live and are helping foster deeper communication between cultural institutions and underserved audiences.

Shawn McCoy speaking at the 2014 Asian Attractions Show.  Image Courtesy Blooloop.

On Thursday, JRA’s Clara Rice will participate on the panel “TEA Presents Future Legends: Transforming Experience”, alongside Nickelodeon’s John Paul Guerts, Rhetroactive’s Steve Trowbridge, and BRC Imagination Arts’ Christian Lachel. Panelists will explore topics such as wearable technology, 3D printed worlds, and how the very nature of design is changing to meet the desires of a new generation of visitors. Each panelist will have three-and-a-half minutes to speak on each of three topics, and Rice will be exploring the future of interactive media, the rise of the telepresence robot, and the growing demand for ultra-luxe VIP theme park experiences. Through these rapid-fire mini-presentations, audiences will discover how the attractions industry is responding to the challenges and opportunities of the latest technologies and trends.

Clara Rice speaking at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center.

Of course, you can also visit the JRA team at Booth 1354, and, as always, JRA will have seemingly round-the-clock coverage of IAAPA on the JRA+blog, our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and our Twitter feed. We’ll also have a special surprise for our readers the Tuesday following IAAPA, so be sure to stay tuned, and we’ll see you in Orlando!

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Outside the Studio

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Conference World Tour 2014: Retail on the Riviera

November 05, 2014

Image courtesy MAPIC

Image courtesy MAPIC

From November 19-21, international retailers, property developers and consultants will converge in picturesque Cannes, France for at the 20th annual MAPIC conference. MAPIC, which, for those up on their French, stands for Le marché international professionnel de l’implantation commerciale et de la distribution, is dubbed the “world’s leading retail real estate market”. Over three days, participants will enjoy an exhibition hall in Cannes’ Palais des Festivals, over 25 conference sessions and a variety of networking events.

MAPIC was originally launched in Cannes in 1995 by Reed MIDEM, a global leader in the organization of international professional conferences and events. That first conference welcomed 1,064 participants, 221 retailers and 3,600 companies from 69 countries. This year’s Cannes edition will welcome over 8,300 participants, including 2,300 developers, 2,400 retailers and 1,400 represented brands, from Apple to Gap to Marks and Spencer. These attendees will arrive from 67 countries covering five continents to identify new trends, new products and new partnerships.

Educational opportunities will abound at MAPIC. They include an Innovation Forum, where participants learn best practices for their retail spaces, and a Digital Summit, where 60 industry thought leaders will discuss the rapidly growing arena of digital commerce. Conference sessions will cover such topics as doing business in the emerging markets of Russia, Turkey and Africa; creating partnerships with chambers of commerce; pitching shopping center projects and retail concepts; navigating e-commerce; and leveraging analytics. One area of the exhibit hall will offer a dedicated “retailtainment” zone, where experts will discuss the emergence of this dynamic fusion of shopping and entertainment, while developers pitch their latest retail-based attractions.

In addition to the exhibition hall and conference sessions, MAPIC offers an array of dynamic matchmaking and networking events. In “Speed Matchings”, developers, retailers, franchisees and investors engage in a series of ten specially tailored, three-minute face-to-face meetings, structured to provide rapid-fire connectivity and promote deal making. At the pitching sessions, five different retailers and developers each have seven minutes to pitch their product or opportunity to the audience, showcasing their work in front of potential investors. But the activity doesn’t end when the sun goes down. MAPIC kicks off with a high-profile cocktail reception at the Majestic Hotel and closes with a special 20th anniversary fireworks display over Cannes’ famous Boulevard de la Croisette, followed by the MAPIC Party, a high-energy social and networking event. Whether in the Palais exhibit hall or over cocktails at the Majestic, retailers from all over the world will have ample opportunities to meet and greet.

And JRA is excited to be meeting and greeting at MAPIC for the first time! Team members Rob Morgan and Dana Everhart will be covering the event for the JRA+blog, so stay tuned later this month for their full report. In the meantime, check out the MAPIC preview video below, as well as this article from our friends at Blooloop.

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Conference World Tour 2014: SATE at the Circus

September 24, 2014

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The Tibbals Learning Center: The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, a project designed and managed by JRA.

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For the next stop on our Conference World Tour 2014, we’re heading to the campus of Florida State University in Sarasota, this year’s home of the Themed Entertainment Association’s SATE Conference. SATE (Storytelling Architecture Technology Experience) brings together creatives, producers, owners and operators in the visitor attractions industry, exploring issues, opportunities and possibilities relating to the creation of compelling guest experiences. The two-day conference takes place at the university’s beautiful John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and is Co-Chaired by Aram Ebben of Exp and Stefan Lawrence of Rethink Leisure & Entertainment. SATE is generously sponsored by co-presenters Christie and Electronsonic.

Phil Hettema of The Hettema Group (left) and Al Cross of PGAV. All images courtesy of TEA unless noted.

The conference program begins with the Storytelling and Architecture segments, chaired by Phil Hettema of The Hettema Group and Al Cross of PGAV, respectively. The Storytelling session: “Orchestrating Desire: Using Story to Create Compelling Experiences”, will feature Raul Fernandez of Brainwave ThoughtProducts and Denise Weston of WhiteWater West. The session promises “an exploration of premise vs. promise, story vs. backstory, character reality, and how ‘story’ makes experience meaningful in both traditional and interactive theme park attractions.” For the Architecture segment, Dr. Timothy Parker will explore the intersection of Emotion & Architecture, lighting design pioneers Zack Zanolli and Abbey Rosen Homes will discuss how light evokes feeling (and vice versa), and ITEC Entertainent Corporation’s Jeff M. Sugar will investigate The Psychology of Place.

Kenneth Feld, Feld Entertainment

After the Storytelling and Architecture segments, Phil Hettema will conduct an “Inside the Actors Studio”-esque on-stage interview with Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment and SATE headline speaker. Feld believes that “our only limits are our imaginations.” When his father purchased Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey in 1967, Feld became his apprentice, learning every facet of the live entertainment industry he could. That sponge-like thirst for knowledge paid off, and Feld Entertainment has grown dramatically since he assumed the role of CEO in 1984. Today, the company presents live shows in 75 countries, with over 30 million people in attendance each year. The “Conversation with Kenneth Feld” will be a meeting of the minds between two dynamic industry leaders and promises to be a SATE highlight.

Adam Bezark of The Bezark Company and Mk Haley of Walt Disney Imagineering and FSU.

Day Two showcases SATE’s remaining segments: Technology, led by Mk Haley of Walt Disney Imagineering and FSU, and Experience, led by Adam Bezark of The Bezark Company. To kick off the Technology segment, UCLA Professor Mark Francis will moderate a panel on technology and guest entertainment in sports venues. Panelists include Johnny Miller of Bamboo Engine, Matthew Chaka Bainbridge Esq., of Bainbridge Sports Management, Bill Walsh of the Tampa Bay Rays, Daren Dulac of Extreme Networks and Larry Blocker of the Miami Marlins. Up next, Tommy Bridges of ATI, Stephen Villet of Smart Monkeys and Eric Cantrell of Medialon will participate in a panel moderated by Martin Palicki of InPark Magazine. The presenters will unveil how the latest and greatest show technologies taking over Las Vegas can be applied to theme parks. To close the segment, Peter Weishar, Dean of the College of Visual Arts, Theatre & Dance at FSU, will showcase the evolution of themed entertainment curricula at colleges around the country.  Speakers include Shirley Saldamarco of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and James Oliverio of the Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida.

Tommy Bridges of ATI (left) and Stephen Villet of Smart Monkeys.

Friday afternoon's Experience segment will offer three sessions, "Interactive Experiences" featuring Joe Garlington, "Designing Cultural Attractions" featuring James Anderson and Michael Dawson, and "Legends of Frontierland" featuring Cory Rouse.  Garlington led visioning for EPCOT on projects such as Test Track 2.0 and Turtle Talk with Crush. He also co-founded Art & Technology, Inc., a pioneering special effects company involved in the creation of museum, zoo and theme park experiences around the world. James Anderson is the Lead Creative Director and "Story-Teller-in-Chief" of Forrec, Ltd. and has worked for such clients as Nickelodeon, LEGO and Universal. Matt Dawson is Forrec's Director of Museums and Science Centres, and has leant his design expertise to a global portfolio of museum projects. Cory Rouse, Creative Director of Walt Disney Imagineering, has been with WDI since 2007 and has played an important role in the company’s Autonomatronics division. All of these esteemed speakers will answer the question of what it means to create a compelling guest experience.

Among the Experience speakers are Joe Garlington and Cory Rouse of Walt Disney Imagineering.

In addition to the two days of intense, thoughtful discussion, attendees will be able to enjoy some light-hearted moments, including a Welcome Reception at Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar, museum tours, a Dean’s reception at the Ca' d’Zan Terrace of Dreams, and a sunset visit to Joseph’s Coat Skyspace. Skyspace, created by James Turrell, is a contemplative space within the Ringling Museum that features LED lights that change at sunset, altering the visitor’s perception of the sky.

Ca' d'Zan at The Ringling. Image courtesy of The Ringling.

As in previous years, the TEA NextGen Committee is presenting a variety of activities for students and recent graduates at this year’s SATE. Wednesday evening, NextGen members are invited to Captain Curt’s in advance of the official reception to get to know each other before the conference begins. Saturday morning, NextGen members will “Meet the Masters” at New College of Florida’s stunning Charles Ringling Mansion. There they will enjoy coffee and conversation with the SATE Segment Chairs and Co-Chairs. The adrenaline gets turned up a notch in the afternoon, as the group makes its way to Busch Gardens Tampa for a ride on Falcon’s Fury followed by a panel discussion on the making of the attraction and the spectacular Pantopia Animal Show. After the show, NextGens have the option of heading back to Sarasota or, for a nominal fee, staying for the park’s popular Fright Feast and Howl-O-Scream. More information on these events will be distributed to NextGen SATE registrants and scholarship recipients tomorrow.

View from the Charles Ringling Mansion, host venue for "Meet the Masters".

Overall, SATE promises to be part networking opportunity, part educational seminar and all enrichment for attendees: “SATE ’14 is going to build on our experience last year in Savannah to create an even better conference for our attendees," says Co-Chair, Stefan Lawrence. "The Ringling is a spectacular and inspiring venue, and we plan on having two days of truly top-notch speakers from both in and outside of our industry. Plus we’ll have karaoke on Friday night. Can’t beat that.”

For more information on SATE, and to purchase tickets, please visit And be sure to stay tuned to the JRA blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed (#TEAsate) for all the latest news.

We’ll see you in Sarasota!

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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