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Chloe Hausfeld: Global Director Of Strategic Partnerships For The TEA

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Editor Beth Whitaker, speaks with Chloe Hausfeld about her new role within the TEA and discovers what makes this industry so special for her.

When did you first start working in the parks and attractions industry?

I was lucky to grow up in this amazing industry. However, I began my official journey when I joined the team at JRA (now part of RWS Global) after graduating from college. Starting as Keith James’ Executive Assistant and then transitioning into Marketing & Business Development. During my tenure there, I moved from Director to Vice President, expanding my responsibilities to involve strategic initiatives, fostering relationships with clients, and driving business growth. The experiences I shared with the JRA team provided me with invaluable insights and skills to lay the groundwork for my career in the themed entertainment industry.

What have been some of your career highlights?

Joining the team at JRA was a dream come true. It wasn’t just a career move, it was the start of a personal journey, filled with meaningful connections and memories. As Keith James’ daughter, I spent many years visiting the office, and the amazing people that filled it. Having the opportunity to contribute to the legacy of a company that holds such significance for me is something that I will always cherish.

I have also had the privilege of serving on the committee for Give Kids the World and IAAPA since 2017. The main purpose of this committee is to assist in planning the fundraising events for GKTW that take place during IAAPA Expo week, in Orlando. Because of my close ties, and adoration for GKTW, when I was pregnant with my first son Fletcher, we (thanks to Kyle Morey, Linda Round & Roberta Perry) created a fundraising event guessing game for the pregnancy, with proceeds going to the Village. Later that year, I got to walk through the Village, with Fletch attached to me in his carrier, and my mother at my side. He won’t ever remember it, but sharing that with him, instilling the values of compassion and giving back, and showing him why we all go to work every day from an early age was extremely special.

As well as this, in 2016, Keith James was TEA’s recipient of the Buzz Price Thea Award Recognising a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievement. Being a member of the group that introduced him was an honour of a lifetime in and of itself, and a memory I hold very dear. Coming full circle, I now get to assist in creating similar meaningful memories for others within this amazing community as a member of the TEA team!

What do you love most about working within the parks and attractions industry?

I get asked this a lot, and always have the same (possibly cliché) answer… The people. As mentioned, it may be “cliché, but it’s true.

The industry, as a whole, is rather glamorous. Especially from the outside looking in. It is interesting, fun, and certainly much different from what most of our family and friends (outside of the industry) are used to. The nature of entertainment, with its global reach and round-the-clock demands, requires a level of commitment and resilience beyond the typical 9-5 job. Often, there is no “off button”, and we have to power through with grit to get through long projects and demanding schedules.

We couldn’t do what we do without the support of fantastic teams. The people that we meet along the way turn into life-long friends, and confidants. At the end of the day, it’s most glamorous because of each and every one of them.

What have been some of the most significant changes within the industry that you have seen?

The industry is continuously evolving, and some of the most rapid changes we continue to see revolve around the integration of technology, gamification, sustainability, and accessibility. The rapid advancement of technology has allowed for increasingly immersive and interactive experiences within entertainment, including incorporating elements of gaming into attractions and experiences as a popular trend. Companies are increasingly adopting sustainable practices in both the design and operation of attractions and facilities while also ensuring that attractions and experiences are accessible to all guests. By embracing these trends and incorporating them into design and operations, destinations can stay relevant and appealing to a diverse audience while also contributing positively to the environment and society.

What are the main challenges the industry is facing right now?

Staffing is a significant challenge across various sectors of the industry, encompassing creative, production, and operational roles. It’s not merely of quantity but also quality, as finding skilled and experienced individuals who are passionate about the industry can be challenging.

On top of that, there’s a noticeable “changing of the guard” occurring within the industry, as experienced professionals retire, transition to other roles, or worse. This loss of institutional knowledge and expertise poses a risk to the continuity and innovation within our entertainment community.

When did you first become involved in TEA and what were your reasons for joining?

I’ve been lucky enough to take part in TEA events for most of my life due to my family’s involvement in the industry. That said, I have been able to participate on a professional level since joining the JRA team, attending the then TEA Summit and Theas Gala yearly, as well as Global SATES throughout the years, and several different yearly regional events.

We had a number of steady committee and board participants on our team, so I didn’t join in that capacity, but supported their initiatives, and engaged as a member as much as possible. I love the industry, and know that the best way to learn, and meet people, is to get involved as much as possible. TEA’s mission literally includes bringing creators together to share knowledge, to collaborate, to celebrate, and more. It’s always been important to me to make my own name in the industry, and the connections I’ve made in this community have begun to make that a possibility.

Tell me more about your work as a member of the executive leadership team?

My position plays a critical role in helping us to reach the association’s strategic, operational, and financial goals. A key focus is the generation and growth of non-dues revenue streams from the industry through the development and delivery of sales strategies and the expansion of our partnerships.

My immediate goal has been locking in our trusted, and new Global Partners for 2024, as well as spearheading our efforts for INSPIRE Week and the 30th Annual Thea Awards Gala. It’s been a busy few months, but our members are phenomenal, and we’re excited to provide an exceptional week for them, and our guests alike. The relationships and industry knowledge that I have gained throughout my career has helped make it possible for me to dive in, headfirst, and embrace this amazing ride!

In your new role of Global Director of Strategic Partnerships, what are you looking forward to most?

Continuing to serve as the liaison to our members, and the industry as a whole. Leading the association’s efforts in identifying and prioritising key strategic partnerships and industry alignments was a key contributing factor in joining the team, and I’m anxious to focus on the strategy-side of my efforts.

What do you feel you bring to the role that’s unique?

In this position, it’s extremely important to maintain a collaborative approach with all constituent groups, including TEA staff, board members, association members, volunteers, and vendors, all while demonstrating a sincere commitment to the industry. In order to continue to build this community, having the ability to navigate in a highly political environment, while exercising good judgement is what supports the maintenance of these connections. Coming onto the Team, after previously spending my involvement as a member, lends itself to seeing opportunities from multiple angles, while putting an emphasis on making sure that strategies are pulled together that are mutually beneficial to all. It’s about seeing the bigger picture and recognising that the strength of the association lies in the collective success and satisfaction of all its constituent groups.

I hope to continue to leverage my unique perspective and commitment to the community. Understanding the needs of our members, identifying growth opportunities in new markets, and assisting in guiding TEA towards continued growth and success, ensuring it remains a vibrant and inclusive community at the forefront of the industry.

What do you consider to be the most important benefits of TEA?

While TEA members receive countless benefits, including networking events, global resources, educational opportunities, and exclusive access, it’s the community aspect that holds the most value. This community not only fosters professional growth and opportunities but also personal connections that enrich the experience of being part of this amazing industry. Learning from industry leaders and considering them peers is a unique aspect of the TEA community, making it possible for newcomers and veterans alike to share, learn, and grow together. This accessibility to thought leadership and mentorship is what makes the industry not just innovative but also welcoming and supportive.

It’s easy to want to work hard, when you get the ability to play hard with the best of the best in the industry. TEA celebrates creativity, hard work, and fun, making it an incredibly rewarding team to be a part of. The relationships and networks formed within TEA are not just professional ties but often evolve into lifelong friendships, making the hard work even more worthwhile.

How will the TEA continue to evolve?

The creation of my role within TEA signifies the organisation’s commitment to growth and its dedication to providing value for its members. This strategic move is a clear indication of TEA’s forward-thinking approach, aiming to not only support our current member base but also to expand our influence and reach within the industry.

We are focusing on creating more opportunities for our members to showcase their talent, not only allowing members to gain visibility and recognition, but also fostering an environment of inspiration and collaboration. Opening up networks and venturing into new markets are equally crucial strategies. By tapping into regions and sectors that have been underexplored, we plan to broaden our footprint while also providing our members access to new possibilities, partnerships, and projects.

TEA works diligently to reward cutting-edge excellence, and expertise, in our industry. We were thrilled to celebrate our 30th Annual TEA Thea Awards Gala in March, at the culmination of INSPIRE Week. The Thea Awards, with our extensive credits list, is a reminder that, while individual talent and hard work are essential, the collective experiences, support, and camaraderie within this community amplify success and make the journey fulfilling. We hope you enjoyed the event, and look forward to seeing you next year!

Images: TEA

You can also find this article in the digital magazine below (page 38):

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