17 July 2019

Nathan Jones, the Pacific Northwest and TEA SATE - Seattle, Sept 2019

TEA SATE is the Themed Entertainment Association's signature international conference on Experience Design, bringing together the brightest minds and top decision makers exploring what's next in Storytelling, Architecture, Technology, and Experience in visitor attractions. The TEA SATE conference cycle is underway for 2019, with TEA SATE - Seattle taking place September 26-27, plus a welcome mixer the evening of Sept 25, and an optional post-conference outing on Sept 28. The TEA SATE - Seattle theme is "Embracing Diversity."  #TEAsate

The three co-chairs of TEA SATE - Seattle are Nathan Jones of WhiteWater (pictured at right), Shannon Martin of Color Reflections and  Ian Klein of Vizir Productions. Here, Nathan Jones talks about what led him to get involved and why the Seattle conference is a must-attend.


"This conference helps refocus our energies" -- Nathan Jones

Give us your motivational elevator speech about TEA SATE and specifically, TEA SATE - Seattle.

  • This is a conference that broadens the perspective for anyone in the industry or who is looking to actively get involved in the industry. A TEA SATE program goes beyond topical conversations and really looks at unique aspects of how successful people and companies are carving out their own identities in exciting ways!
  • This conference is uniquely situated in the Pacific Northwest and leveraging all the amazing cultural, historical, and geographical opportunities that it has to offer will create a truly unique and memorable TEA SATE experience.
  • This is a great networking and professional development event. We are building in opportunities to connect with associates that you may only see once or twice a year but also planned social gatherings in a relaxed, business-like environment to promote further interactions.


What do you bring to your role as conference co-chair? 

This is a natural evolution in terms of my involvement with TEA overall. In 2014 I started a sub-group to galvanize the TEA presence in the Pacific Northwest and that was my first foray into the influence of the TEA brand and how it brings people together and sparks business synergy. Since then I have served as Vice-President of the TEA Western North America Division Board and currently am a sitting member of the TEA International Board of Directors, and these roles have served as a natural extension of my earlier efforts - to provide a platform for more of that great synergy to serve the TEA community across the region.


Shannon Martin of Color Reflections
is Board President of the
TEA Western North America Division,
and co-chair of TEA SATE - Seattle
Read Shannon's interview

How might we expect the conference theme of Diversity to be applied?

Looking back at past TEA SATE conferences, diversity was a topic that came up time and time again in sessions and discussions. My co-chairs and I believe that focusing the conference around diversity will provide a deeper dive into the challenges and highlights from our industry.


What was an important moment, connection or realization that came to you as a result of attending TEA SATE in the past?

Often the results of our hard work can get lost in the minutiae and day-to-day dissection of what we all do for a living. TEA SATE is invaluable to our industry in that it helps to re-focus the energy on the guests who experience these facilities and attractions every single day. The vital aspects of how we all contribute became abundantly clear to me while attending my first TEA SATE conference and realizing that our job is really to make the impossible possible and provide an escape from everything that is going on in the outside world, even for a couple of hours.


What's the dynamic like when there are three co-chairs?

Each of us brings a different layer of expertise and contribution to the process. Whether our experience as it relates to the industry or our ability to organize and coordinate such a marque event for TEA we each are equally supportive of producing a quality SATE. Much like a 3-legged stool-it just doesn’t work with only 2 of us!


Ian Klein of Vizir Productions is a
Seattle Native and one of three co-chairs
of  TEA SATE - Seattle.
Read Ian's take on the conference.

Last year the TEA Masters program became part of TEA SATE programming. How will TEA Masters play out in Seattle?

Hosting the TEA Masters panel provides a great backdrop for the audience to hear from people who are truly masters of their craft. The manner in which many of these professionals either discovered the industry or carved out their niche is equal parts inspiration and motivation! 


There is a lot of excitement around having TEA SATE in Seattle because of its mix of iconic attractions and its world’s fair legacy. Will these things enrich the conference?

Yes - stay tuned to find out exactly how, but yes. opportunities to explore many different facets of Seattle. The dense downtown core offers a wide variety of business and cultural mixes that we will look to bring to the stage during the conference. And so many people in our industry have had direct experience at world expos in the course of their careers. Seattle has hosted a world’s fair (1962) and has a rich history of legacy institutions. In addition, just across the border in Vancouver is the location of the last world's fair hosted in North America - so far, anyway - Expo 86. Many TEA members today have a personal connection to that expo (including a TEA SATE Seattle co-chair who attended as an eight-year old kid to ride his first roller coaster, Scream Machine). 


Name three things, tangible or intangible, that everyone should bring with them in order to make the most of their participation in TEA SATE – Seattle.

  1. An open mind; there will inherently be topics discussed that you will not have given much thought to or not necessarily agree with. We would ask you approach each presentation with a fresh perspective-you never know you may come away with a whole new appreciation for a topic or group of people.
  2. A notebook; There is a rich range of topics and amazing speakers that we have lined up. You will want to capture your thoughts and those of others on paper or in a device as the days unfold.
  3. Comfy shoes; We said we were exploring Seattle! Come prepared!



Posted by Judith Rubin



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