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New Anaheim President/CEO Jay Burress Ready to Take the Reins in OC


Anaheim, CA — Newly named President & CEO of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau Jay Burress won’t officially assume his new duties until February 11, but he’s already making note of similarities and differences between his previous positions in Dallas/Arlington and the new gig in Anaheim.

“The business model and makeup (of the markets) are similar,” he told Trade Show Executive in an interview. Burress said the convention center exhibit space is similar to that in Texas and the two markets have some “shared groups” that use both regions in their rotation patterns.  The 10th-ranked Dallas Convention Center has 1 million sq. ft. of prime exhibit space, while the 15th-ranked Anaheim has 813,000 sq. ft., according to Trade Show Executive’s 2012 World’s Top Convention Centers directory.

He said that even the tourism tie-in is similar, with plentiful attractions and family travel activities available in both Arlington and Anaheim. “It’s a similar makeup for trade show delegates who make family vacations when attending a trade show,” he said.

Burress most recently was president and CEO of Experience Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau for four years and was with the Dallas CVB prior to that. While his credentials mirror those of retiring Anaheim President and CEO Charles Ahlers in both professional affiliations and in hosting major sports events, Burress said other similarities should help make the transition a smooth one. “Arlington is a regional Anaheim,” he said. “It was built on the model of Anaheim.”

Burress said a former Arlington mayor had spent time in California during Anaheim’s formative years as a trade show and convention destination and wanted to create a similar synergy in Arlington.

“Anaheim has been a leading trade show destination for many years (and that) was very attractive to me,” he said. On a personal level, he said the bureau’s good reputation in the CVB world was another plus.

Nevertheless, Burress knows he’ll find plenty of differences in the markets as he becomes better acquainted with Anaheim. One of those is likely to be seasonal booking patterns. In Anaheim, the first quarter of the year is the busiest for trade show and convention business with mainstays NAMM, The National Association of Music MerchantsMedical Design & Manufacturing West and Natural Products Expo West alone bringing an aggregate attendance of more than 200,000 to town during a season that tends to be slower in colder climates. Anaheim typically draws between 1 million and 1.2 million convention and trade show attendees annually.

Burress also noted differences in selling the destinations based on company headquarters in the region as well as the variety of tourist attractions popular with some trade show attendees.

One difference Burress appreciates is already having headquarters hotels adjacent to the Anaheim Convention Center. In Dallas it took “years” before the Omni Dallas Convention Center hotel opened, he said. That 1,001-room hotel opened late 2011 and connects to the Dallas Convention Center. In Anaheim, the 1,572-room Hilton Anaheim and 1,030-room Anaheim Marriott adjoin the convention center and the newly opened outdoor Grand Plaza.

“Growing the trade show and citywide business is the No. 1 goal, coupled with continuing the tradition of excellence the Anaheim VCB already has achieved,” Burress said. With predecessors Bill Snyder and Charles Ahlers to follow, “it’s like following Bear Bryant,” he added.

Reach Jay Burress at (817) 454-2100 or

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