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IAEE Awards Spotlight on Chris Bonifati: 2017 Rookie of the Year Award Winner

Congratulations to Chris Bonifati on winning the 2017 Rookie of the Year Award! Read about his start in the industry and how he’s proving to be a rising leader in his organization.

By Mary Tucker, Sr. PR/Communications Manager

Bonifati_Chris_200x200Chris Bonifati, Assistant Manager of Attendee Services with the American Pet Products Association (APPA), was honored for his dedication and contributions to the APPA team. His colleagues note he is incredibly bright and brings innovative ideas to the table by staying abreast of industry trends that could make APPA’s trade show a success. Though relatively new to the industry, his peers have tagged him as a rising star who has demonstrated potential for a promising career in the industry.

Chris was commended for tackling any obstacle with confidence, his standout character and charisma making him an essential part of the APPA staff. Chris is always willing and enthusiastic to participate in IAEE’s New York Area chapter events, NYIAEE YP events, as well as other IAEE events and Expo! Expo!. He is considered an all-star by his team who considers him an important part of the future of the industry.

Here, Chris shares with IAEE readers his favorite and most challenging aspects of the industry, where he finds info on the latest trends and what the industry can do to attract young professionals to the field.

Bonifati_Chris at Expo Expo
IAEE President & CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA (left) congratulates Chris Bonifati (right) at the Annual Networking Luncheon & Awards Presentation during Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition held 28-30 November 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.

IAEE: How did you get your start in the exhibitions and events industry and what have you found most appealing about it so far?

Chris: Like many other young people in the industry, I never considered working for a trade show while I was in school. I was solicited for the position through my recruiting agent, and once I sat down for the interview I knew it was the job for me. What I find most appealing is that working for a show or an event is not your typical “9 to 5” job. I get to wear many different hats and each day brings forth something new and exciting.

IAEE: What do you find most challenging about this field and how do approach tackling this challenge?

Chris: In the events industry, nothing ever goes 100% according to plan, which can be frustrating. I am constantly forced to improvise and adapt, especially when on-site for our trade show, Global Pet Expo. I feel that the best way to face that sort of challenge is through preparation. If you are well prepared and have several contingency plans for things that may go wrong, the easier you can navigate the curveballs.

IAEE: Your colleagues have applauded your enthusiasm for staying on top of industry trends. What are your favorite sources of information for finding out what’s new and innovative?

Chris: Every time I am offered a newsletter, I accept it. Being able to read a few articles that apply to problems our show faces every now and again helps to give me a baseline on how to solve them. My team and I also visit other trade shows often. We know what new and exciting features we’ll be adding to our show; but being able to attend another association’s show really gives us a strong understanding of what is NEW in the industry.

IAEE: As a young professional who’s in tune with what’s going on in shows, what new industry trends capture your attention?

Chris: Geo-fencing the show floor has been something that has piqued my interest since I first started investigating trade show trends. As someone whose role is to map the attendee’s journey, it would be incredible to have information on exactly how attendees behave while walking the show floor. Being able to track engagements and connections at the show can help us gauge the show’s success, as well as diagnose problems. Often times, we rely on testimonial and anecdotal evidence to measure the success of engagements at the show, so I feel as though combining that evidence with hard metrics could begin to help us make more informed decisions.

IAEE: What would be your advice to industry veterans interested in drawing more young professionals to the world of exhibitions and events?

Chris: I would say to take a chance on someone who may not have all the technical experience, but has great intangible skills. Rarely will you find a young professional who has a significant amount of trade show or live event experience. I’d look for work ethic and an eagerness to learn, which could lead to gaining that technical knowledge faster. Give the young people at your company meaningful work. One of the best parts of my job is that I have significant input in decisions that we make, and it makes me feel like I am appreciated and seen as an important voice in my company. This motivates me to work harder so I can continue to earn my colleagues respect.

IAEE: You are very active in your local chapter. What do you enjoy most about being involved on the local level and what would you tell someone who would like to increase their chapter activity?

Chris: The best part of getting involved with your local chapter’s young professionals is the opportunity to network and make new friends. A lot of the young professionals in our chapter were hired straight out of college. When you leave college, suddenly your circle of friends shrinks significantly which is tough to deal with. Meeting people around my age in a similar career has been a great opportunity. To those trying to increase their chapter’s activity, I’d advise to try and combine work and play during events. In the past we have done bowling events, escape rooms, and spin classes which are followed up by casual networking opportunities. It is a great way to grow and connect your chapter’s young professionals.

IAEE is now accepting nominations for the 2018 IAEE Awards! Get complete details, including award criteria and deadline information here!

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