In the summer of 2017 I had the chance to have lunch with Mark Bellissimo at Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC. Mark is the CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, a private company that owns and manages large equestrian facilities in Florida, North Carolina and Colorado. Passionate about technology, Mark came across my site VirginiaEquestrian.com and reached out to learn more about our success, ultimately inviting me to lunch. During lunch Mark brought up the upcoming World Equestrian Games 2018 (WEG), to take place over thirteen days in September, 2018 at Tryon. He explained his need for someone to manage the World Equine Expo, a trade show and exhibit to take place over the duration of the WEG. With companies coming from all over the world to participate, and a considerable load of logistics, sales and operational challenges, he needed someone to lead these efforts.
Considering the opportunity to work closely with Mark and his family on this event, the magnitude of the event itself (which parallels the Olympics in overall country participation), and the opportunity to do something I had never done – I took Mark up on his offer. In November, 2017, I met with a small team at Tryon and got started. We quickly began outlining the venue layout, target vendor lists, schedule of events and the tools we would need to be successful. Working with the development team, we launched an online application for vendors, complete with e-commerce capabilities, allowing us to market to and sign up participating vendors. We engaged and strategized with third party service providers for power, food services, high-speed internet, dumpsters, shipping and much more.
By late Spring of 2018, we had sold approximately 95% of our available inventory for vendors, had a solid plan for the event layout and specific components, and were ready for the big event. Coordinating tractor trailer arrivals containing booth build-outs, international shipping, vendor accommodations, third-party service providers, sponsor deployments and internal resources was no small task, but it came together in a wonderful event that will never be forgotten by those in attendance. Covered by television networks across the globe, the World Equestrian Games 2018 was seen by millions on TV. It was an amazing experience, giving me the chance to meet and form relationships with people from all over the globe.