Episode 282: Jakob Wahl talks about being curious, staying relevant, and the IAAPA member experience

Business Strategy, Networking, Podcast

Jakob Wahl is the President and CEO of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). Frequently visiting the hometown carnival he grew up with in Germany, Jakob fell in love with the attractions industry at a young age. Jakob’s first summer job was checking tickets at Phantasialand, and he quickly made a career out of it once he graduated. Jakob became a Programme Manager for IAAPA Europe and stayed there for four years until he joined Europa-Park’s management team, later becoming the executive manager for special projects. Jakob later came back to IAAPA as the Vice President of IAAPA Europe, later being promoted to COO, and as of January 1st, President and CEO of the organization. In his first interview as CEO of IAAPA, Jakob talks about being curious, staying relevant, and the IAAPA member experience.

Being Curious

“Be curious, and don’t be afraid.”

One of Jakob’s biggest sources of inspiration was Steve Jobs, one of the world’s greatest minds, primarily accredited to his curiosity. Jakob emphasizes that there is always something you can learn in any situation, even if you don’t believe it has relevance to what you do. Whether it’s something not to do or something you can do differently, when you’re curious, everything has more value. 

Jakob applies these ideas to his team as well. By bringing in great minds that are better than you in certain practices, you can create a powerful team fueled by curiosity. By giving your employees the freedom to disagree and encouraging them to act on their ideas, you can stretch your organization’s limits far beyond what you thought was possible by empowering the idea of curiosity.

Staying Relevant

“This association is more than 100 years old, and we have always adapted to service our members.”

One of the greatest challenges many organizations face today is the idea of staying relevant, whether its new expansions in the metaverse or different social media platforms, organizations have to adapt and find new ways to connect to their audience. Jakob knows the importance of staying relevant, and he’s already beginning to bring IAAPA into the new digital age. 

Jakob wants members to know that IAAPA is not only a trade show, but rather an organization with the primary purpose of servicing our industry 365 days a year in many forms. By implementing a regional strategy and servicing members by providing more accessible information, Jakob is creating a stronger outreach and bond with members. Even with all of these advancements, we don’t see a metaverse trade show happening anytime soon, and Jakob shares that IAAPA will never forget the power of physical and personal interaction. 

The IAAPA Member Experience

“Yes, it is a business, but it’s also an experience.”

For those who visited the 2022 IAAPA expo, you’ll know that it was much more than a trade show. With a DJ in the entrance and awesome displays of industry innovations, IAAPA is working to make the member experience even better with more social and networking events. 

Jakob emphasizes that service is IAAPA’s priority, and IAAPA is going through great lengths to innovate and personalize your experience. With new services like the Connect+ app where you can connect with other members, or the IAAPA marketplace where members can contact vendors, IAAPA is working to bring an even more connected future to the attractions industry. 


To contact Jakob, you can connect with him on LinkedIn. To learn more about IAAPA, you can visit their website here


This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our amazing team:

  • Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas
  • Summary by Mason Nichols
  • Video editing by Abigail Giganan

To connect with AttractionPros: attractionpros@gmail.com

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