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PGAV Destinations Pilots Exceptional, Educational Team Experience

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PGAV Destinations takes employees on trip-of-a-lifetime to experience own designs

This summer, world-class destination design firm PGAV Destinations offered a trip-of-a-lifetime to the entire staff of its company, PGAV, to experience some of the firm’s biggest openings of the season in Orlando, FL.

Almost all of the firm’s 120 employees and more than 50 guests flew on Southwest’s Penguin One, a Boeing 737-700 painted with giant penguins created in partnership with SeaWorld. The world-renown sea-life education and theme park has been a long-standing client of PGAV Destinations.

“This was an exceptional investment in our future, ” said PGAV Destinations chairman and principal, Mike Konzen. “We have a great staff development program, but this really was a test of an innovative approach to educating our staff about destination design. It’s essential for our designers to experience first-hand how their designs and strategies play out when enjoyed by hundreds of guests at any given moment.”

The staff began their Saturday by visiting SeaWorld Orlando; and most notably the park’s latest attraction on which PGAV worked, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. The rest of the day was spent enjoying other world-class SeaWorld attractions the firm was involved with, including Turtle Trek, Manta, Journey to Atlantis, Dine with Shamu, and Shamu Rocks. 

The staff gathered together mid-day at Shamu’s Underwater Viewing Tank for SeaWorld’s dedication of the Jim Moorkamp memorial. PGAV principal Jim Moorkamp passed away in early 2013; and for his decades of dedicated service, passion, and love of aquatic life and SeaWorld’s attractions, a larger-than-life memorial of him was erected in SeaWorld’s Aquatica, Orlando.  

PGAV Destinations takes employees to Empire of the Penguins SeaWorld

The following day, the staff boarded buses out to the Kennedy Space Visitor Complex, home of the firm’s latest complete destination master plan and design – Space Shuttle Atlantis. 

PGAV Destinations led the creation of Space Shuttle Atlantis from concept to construction documents through the completion of construction. The new attraction features the real Space Shuttle Atlantis along with more than 162 interactive, STEM-based exhibits celebrating NASA’s 30-year shuttle program, the Hubble Telescope, and the International Space Station. 

“Having the staff get to experience Space Shuttle Atlantis was the penultimate workshop on understanding what this firm is capable of, ” said Emily Howard, PGAV Destinations vice president and project manager of Space Shuttle Atlantis. “This $100m project encompassed all abilities of PGAV – master planning, landscaping, media design, exhibit design, preservation, retail, graphic design, and more – and it really gave a sense of awe and pride in our staff of just how talented they are and what they’re capable of together.” 

In addition to a tour of Kennedy Space Center, the staff was also treated to a private luncheon, presentation, Q&A, and meet-and-greet with astronaut Chris Ferguson, the final commander of Atlantis on STS 135 from July 8 – July 21, 2011. It PGAV Destinations takes employees to Kennedy Space Centre where they met Commader Chris Fergusonwas a tremendous opportunity to draw a direct line between the history and science the PGAV team had captured in the attraction to someone who actually lived it. (See right: PGAV Destinations VP Tom Owen and wife Terri with Commander Ferguson.)

PGAV Destinations then explored Space Shuttle Atlantis, an attraction that more than 20 staff had worked on for years and many more had closely followed its development. Despite having such close proximity to the attraction for such an immense amount of time, many of the staff stood amazed at the completed destination. They excitedly showed their friends and family the ideas they had helped dream up, the challenges they had overcome, and immersed themselves in the exhibits and media – despite having written and designed them over the course of years.

The staff gained countless insights, lessons, and memories with their coworkers and clients throughout the trip. One such staff member wrote, “What an amazing company to work for. What a great group of professionals. . . although I have only been a part of the team (going on) three years, I feel very blessed to be a part of such a unique company.”

Click here for more details about Space Shuttle Atlantis and PGAV Destinations’ role in designing the attraction.

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