Kev B Shannon was at the SITE Young Leaders conference prior to IMEX America and talked about working at Odyssey International DMC in 2015 as a part time cover until, he said, “I found an industry that I had been looking for my whole career.”
He joined SITE the following year to meet peers in the Irish chapter and familarize himself with the incentive industry through workshops and events. His mentor at the time was the director of operations at Odyssey, Yvonne Colucci, who taught him about the industry and best practices for events. “Without the logistical knowledge and experience she imparted, I would not be able to promote and sell Ireland,” Kev says.
Kev studied business, a broad degree with elements of sales, marketing, IT, economics, but his background in the hospitality industry goes way back—to working in pubs since the age of 17.
“That experience was followed by working at award-winning restaurants and venues. It is through the marriage of my qualification and experience that I found myself in this industry.”
He says what makes Odyssey’s programs so unique is that they always try to really highlight the experiential elements that guests, and indeed locals, cannot arrange by themselves.
“We always aim to introduce visitors to authentic and local experiences, where they meet Irish people, eat Irish food, and enjoy an experience that will constantly remind them that they are in Ireland. We are spoiled in Ireland with the best hotels, incredible food, beautiful scenery and a welcoming people who endeavor to make any visit memorable.”
His greatest source of pride so far is being part of a team which organized last year the largest ever incentive program in Ireland, under the leadership of Colucci. “In one wave, we welcomed over 2,600 people to Dublin for a five-night itinerary incorporating the best of Irish entertainment, food and activities. We broke records for the largest gala dinner of its kind with a performance by great Irish entertainment and Christina Aguilera, a bespoke festival experience, two nights in the wonderful Guinness Storehouse, a roster of 15 incentive-standard activities, the best Dublin hotels and the best restaurants and evening venues. I was so proud of the operations team for pulling off this incredible feat with an astounding satisfaction rating. Watching the months and months of planning and logistical know-how paying off still gives me a sense of pride in the team.”
When Kev is not working, he enjoys walking the countryside with his wife, Kelly. He’s also a season ticket holder of his local rugby club Leinster, who he’s followed around the world. He enjoys cooking, sports and all kinds of traveling.
“Kelly and I try to get away any opportunity we get; whether abroad or around this wonderful island we call home.”
Some of his favorite movies include Air Force One, Con Air, Airplane… “Anything ‘air’ based really,” he says. “I also love the original Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and pretty much anything with Tom Hanks. But my favorite of all time has to be The Godfather--just a beautiful looking film, with some of the best actors working with the best director. “
His favorite meals are his mother’s lasagna, his dad’s steaks, and his wife’s toasted ham and cheese sandwich, which, he says, “If I had to eat any of these every day for the rest of my life, I would be happy.”
If he could host a table at a favorite restaurant he’d invite: Michael Collins, revolutionary during Ireland’s struggle for Independence, because, he says, “I just feel I owe him a dinner at the very least.” He’d also invite Liam Neeson, who played Michael Collins in the movie of the same name; Adam and Eve, “just to get the full story there-and I’d serve a bunch of apples. I’d have Nostradamus doing prophesies during the drink’s reception, Britney Spears, because I feel like a relaxed evening amongst friends with no paparazzi might be good for her. #LeaveBritneyAlone.”
And the best advice he’s ever received? “Measure twice, cut once.”
“I recently heard this from a designer friend, but I thought it applied very well to all industries and to life in general. I think it is a good message towards preparation and diligence, which are two important pillars of our industry.”