After nine years as AVIXA’s regional director for UK and Ireland, Chris Lavelle moved to the position of senior director of development Europe at the start of this month as one of a number of changes at the association. He spoke to Paddy Baker about his new role
Congratulations on your promotion. Broadly, what will be your new responsibilities?
I’ll be taking over from Pam Taggart – who is taking up a new role in the US – and building on her work, and that of her predecessor Godwin Demicoli. The primary focus will be to grow AVIXA across Europe, building awareness of the association and developing the programmes that add value to the membership. As well as the UK office where I’m based, we have a German office and we also have account managers in various parts of Europe.
Is AVIXA’s new membership structure, introduced at the start of this year, helping to attract new members?
Yes, it’s been well received – it offers even better value for the membership fee. The Bronze level is the most common enterprise membership; for £350 or €400, you can select five people for Elite seats: Elite is an individual membership that gives free access to all of our online training and even more discounts. We also have Silver and Gold membership which can add even more Elite seats.
What are you most looking forward to in the new role?
I’m really excited about going into regions where AVIXA’s still quite new. It will take me back to my days when I took over from my predecessor Geoff Turner, when we were InfoComm International in the UK and Ireland, building on all the groundwork he had done. It was a very exciting time, developing the recognition of the association and growing our end-user base as well as in the channel.
The fact that we’re a neutral entity that represents the global pro AV industry worldwide is a fantastic thing. When people learn about us, and the fact that we’re purely there to advance the AV industry globally and raise the bar for everybody… It’s really exciting to have these conversations so I’m really looking forward to being in that position again.
I understand that AVIXA has also appointed a new European marketing manager.
Yes. His name is Peter Schaedel, and used to look after the marketing for Meyer Sound in Europe. We’re very fortunate that he knows the industry well – he has worked on both the live events side and the integration side – he knows the publications and is very experienced in the market. He is going to be based in the Munich office, and we’re excited that he knows how the European AV industry operates and has the contacts already.
"The fact that we're a neutral entity that represents the global pro AV industry worldwide is a fantastic thing"
You’ve been with AVIXA (or InfoComm) nine years now. What are the main ways in which the organisation changed in that time?
From my point of view, the name change is key in terms of how the association has changed. Previously in conversations with people, we would say ‘InfoComm’, and they’d say straight away, ‘Oh, the show’ – and we’d have to explain that there’s an association with members and volunteers and council and committees that work on standards and certification, education and all sorts of market research. There was so much that was not known. A big part of what has changed is, we’ve created great awareness of all of the various things that the association has done, is still doing or has on the horizon.
What will be the key highlights of InfoComm 2018 for you personally?
Personally I’m looking forward to TIDE. I think it’s going to be a good conference, I’m really looking forward to attending it. We are also looking forward to welcoming our European members there, and we have our European team over at the show as well.
Last year there was a really good atmosphere at InfoComm, because it focused on new ways of doing things, new content. A lot of people fed back that it just had a different feel, was more energised. A lot of effort is put in to keep the show current and fresh, very much in line with our rebrand.