Recently, the JRA team joined several hundred Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) colleagues for the 16th Annual TEA Summit and 25th Annual Thea Awards. With over 1,800 company members, the TEA represents the creators of compelling experiences worldwide, and the awards recognize the outstanding projects forged by this creative community.
This year, to reflect the expansion of the TEA across geographies and verticals, as well as the changing tastes of its conference attendees, the Association unveiled a shift in its Summit Case Studies Day format. Instead of a steady stream of presentations, Thea Award recipients were grouped by category and placed on panels, ranging from theme parks to connected immersion to the museum panel, which was moderated by JRA Vice President, Shawn McCoy.
Despite this segmentation of projects into verticals, the TEA Summit and Theas offered lessons that transcended categorical definition. In her feature article for online industry resource, Blooloop, JRA Director of Communications, Clara Rice, identified seven lessons learned from this year’s Thea Award recipients:
- Tell new stories and re-invigorate old ones
- Make the guest the hero
- Leverage technology to invent and re-invent
- Use authenticity to generate impact
- Create a “wow”
- Take a risk
- Remember to have fun
For several of the project teams attending their first TEA Summit and Thea Awards, the weekend of events shattered their expectations. “[Vice President, New Media] Matt Briney and I were completely blown away by the experience,” reflected Rob Shenk, Senior Vice President, Visitor Engagement at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.”Not only were we humbled by the opportunity to share the story of creating our ‘Be Washington’ experience…but we left so inspired by all the other case studies that were presented at the Summit. It was so clear to both of us that this is an industry filled with creative and innovative people, striving to produce ever more impressive offerings.”