TEA Connect Blog

16 July 2015

From the President – The “five people” in the themed entertainment business

by Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) International Board President Steve Birket of Birket Engineering

There are only five people in this themed entertainment business.

I have long noticed, beginning in the post-Epcot days during the development of what was then Disney-MGM Studios, and Universal Studios Florida, how many times you would see the same faces over and over. This project, then the next project, then the next.

Relationships are key in the business of Themed Entertainment.
Here, TEA president Steve Birket, Birket Engineering
is with TEA Eastern Division President
Traci Klainer Polimeni of Luce Group.
Photo for TEA by Martin Palicki of InPark Magazine. 

Because of the project nature of our industry, one day the face is working for the Owner on a theme park project, the next day at a competitor’s company on a theater project, and the next day at your company on a casino project. Today you are working for him/her, and tomorrow she/he is working for you. We would always say there must be only five people in this business because you saw them over and over. Fast forward nearly 30 years and you still see the same people plus a few more, so maybe there are seven or eight people in this business now.

Of course, TEA has 1,000+ member companies, and the official project credits published by TEA for Thea Award recipients sometimes list 50 or more companies and people – so “five people” is definitely a figure of speech. My point is that our community is small and versatile, and we’ll continue running into one another – if not on this project, then the next – over and over again throughout the course of our careers.

For this reason relationships are key, as you are likely to see this person again. It is good for business, good for the project, and good for the individual to protect and grow these relationships. It is generally wise to think past the current project, and cooperate with someone who is on the other side of the table from you. Tomorrow you may find yourself on the same side of the table.

In explaining this notion at IAAPA Hong Kong recently, to an international technology provider new to our industry and TEA, I saw the classic cocked-head of confusion. An industry where you would expect to cooperate and collaborate with your competitors? How can this “coopera-tition” work, and why would you want it to?  

Coopera-tition is found where the competitors are focused on reaching a higher-value creation: a result that would not otherwise be possible. That cooperation can and does happen at all phases of a project: on the drawing board, on the job site, at the bargaining table.

That, I believe, is the essential driver in our industry - to reach a higher-value creation. A lifting of ideas, a possibility, a dream done. The enhancement of these relationships, this “coopera-tition,” to make a higher-value creation, is the essential function being facilitated by the TEA.

Posted by Judith Rubin

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