iCommit, IAVM’s annual member referral campaign, ran this year from March 1-June 30, 2020. The objective of the campaign is for every current member to recruit one or more individuals to join our community of venue professionals.
We are happy to announce that 61 members were entered in the raffle to win prizes for each new member they referred. With their support, we added 156 new members!
We thank Ungerboeck Software International for their continuous support of this membership initiative and to all of our members who consistently respond to the call to help us continue to be the largest association serving the venue management industry in the world. If you have any questions, contact IAVM’s Director of Membership, Gina Brydson.
By R.V. Baugus
Tammy Koolbeck, CVE, shared some final remarks as her most interesting and unprecedented year as chair of IAVM drew to a close. Koolbeck offered her thanks and acknowledged the contributions of many who helped her get through a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the public assembly venue industry. It was now time to hand the chair’s gavel to Rip Rippetoe, CVE, who effectively with the exchange moved from 1st Vice Chair to Chair. Tammy reached out her right hand and deftly handed the gavel to Rip, who took it with his left hand.
What made it such a deft handoff that went smoother than many quarterback-to-running back-handoffs was that the two leaders were on separate screens as IAVM conducted the exchange of the gavel in a virtual webinar. Welcome, Chairman Rippetoe, and THANK YOU, Past Chair Koolbeck. You are both stalwarts of the industry and to be so admired and respected for your leadership in this time of pandemic crisis.
In addition to the gavel exchange, a number of other special recognitions and awards were shared via technology of a screen to view the proceedings. No, it wasn’t Long Beach, and, no, we were not physically in each other’s presence, but the moment of the gavel exchange is always one of the most anticipated events at any VenueConnect, and the session on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 29, was no different.
Indeed, while kudos were being handed out, computer screens lit up on the chat icon as virtual attendees shared their comments and congratulated honorees. It all made you yearn even more to be with IAVM friends to share in the celebration together.
Special thanks goes to Ungerboeck for their sponsorship of VenueConnect20, which in addition to the time-sensitive passing of the gavel during the scheduled time of VenueConnect, will see the reconfigured annual conference take place in a virtual format from October 26-30, details of which will continue to be shared from IAVM.
For this day, though, it was a time to honor, celebrate, and recognize accomplishments, something so very needed when our industry like so many others continues to try and climb out of the hole created by the coronavirus.
Justin Ungerboeck began the proceedings following introductory announcements by IAVM President/CEO Brad Mayne, CVE, by introducing the newest class of the 30 Under 30. IAVM is proud to partner with Ungerboeck, and sincerely thanks them for their support of VenueConnect and the recognition of some of the industry’s up and coming stars.
Koolbeck then congratulated a special group of honorees in Charles A. McElravy Award recipient Rick Haycock, CVE; Joseph J. Anzivino Distinguished Allied Award recipient Bill Powell; and IAVM Foundation Legacy Award honoree Mina Boyd, CVE.
Koolbeck’s Chairman Citation recipients were next to be feted as Zakiya Smith-Dore, MBA, CVP; Jennifer Norris, CVE; Matt Hollander, CVE; and IAVM’s very own Greg Wolfe, were recognized.
As anyone who has served as IAVM Chair knows, the work still goes on back home while the Chair conducts business on behalf of the Association, and it was no different for Koolbeck, who gave thanks to her colleagues back at Iowa State University in Craig Wiebke, Emily Ladewig, and Craig Spillman.
She finished her comments by acknowledging Stefanie Tomlin and Eboni Wilson for their tireless work to help launch the Black Resource Group, an initiative to represent and provide a forum for underserved individuals within the IAVM membership.
Speaking of diversity and inclusive leadership …
Koolbeck’s final remarks about the new group segued nicely into the comments of new Chair Rippetoe, who emphasized that intentional development of initiatives for all underserved and underrepresented groups within the Association will continue to be an emphasis.
Among his other remarks, Rippetoe touched on a variety of topics, beginning with another couple of key words that are integral to his leadership.
“I believe that there are two words that apply more to us now more than ever,” he said. “Those are Purpose and Promise. Nine years ago, I heard the then CEO of Taco Bell, Greg Creed, give a speech to a small group of professionals, including me, about the power of our Purpose and our Promise. He told us that Purpose was why we existed. The Promise was how we delivered on why we existed.
“The Purpose of IAVM is to educate, advocate for, and inspire public assembly venue professionals, worldwide.
The Promise of IAVM is to provide unprecedented member value.”
Rippetoe went on to elaborate deeper on the important topic of diversity and inclusion.
“IAVM values diversity and inclusiveness,” he said. “IAVM provides opportunities to all people who wish to participate in the activities of the association without regard, including but not limited to: age, color, disability, family responsibility, gender, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
“We have included this language in our policies, but now it is time to make sure our programs, policies and procedures are designed to welcome and include ALL our members. The Board is fully engaged with standing against racism and with being pro-reconciling. We will not just celebrate our diversity, but we will champion a sense of belonging within the organization for ALL.
“I am calling on our leaders to take an even more visible presence within the Association and to continue the efforts made over the past year in seeking ways for us to stand together against all forms of bias. They have done great work, but they cannot do it alone. To realize a future where all voices are welcome will take each of us taking intentional action to repeatedly invite perspectives of folks who have traditionally been underserved.”
In closing, Rippetoe shared his personal core values and what they mean. Those include:
Integrity – Keep your promises
Service – If I’m not serving our members, then serve someone who is
Collaboration – Work together for the common good
Courage – This is not the absence of fear, it is us stepping forward appropriately in spite of our fears.
Accountability – Anyone can ask me “why?” If I don’t have an immediate, good answer, I make a different decision.
“This is a time for strong, consistent leadership,” he said. “All of us need to commit to re-educating ourselves on the role of the IAVM to our members. All of your voices are important. I welcome your comments, critiques, ideas, and challenges.”
If you were not able to join us for all the great things that took place in the ceremonial passing of the gavel, don’t fret. To watch the proceedings, simply click here.
By R.V. Baugus
Bob Hunter, CVE, is known to just about everyone in the public assembly venue industry. By the same token, he knows just about everyone and has seen just about everything.
Hunter, the industry veteran associated forever with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment in Toronto and now Senior Project Manager for Crossroads Consulting Services, calls the lack of events going on in venues something he has never witnessed.
“It’s just very disappointing,” Hunter said. “Just think about all those empty buildings. I’ve been a consultant for almost the last three years to the convention center and arena world, but it’s devastating.”
Hunter is now taking on a role in Toronto to build a new esports arena/theater that will seat in the 7,000- to 10,000-seat capacity level and serve as host to two teams while two other teams will be based in Europe. The project will be built adjacent to BMO Field and Hotel X Toronto and be home to the Toronto Defiant and Toronto Ultra.
Hunter, no stranger to development and expansion projects in Toronto and throughout Canada, will work with government officials on the venue. If all goes well, Hunter expects to break ground by next summer.
“We’re pretty sure that the preliminary analysis shows we can justify making it work,” Hunter said. “We have about six months to go and hoping if we get the green light from the ownership group and it’s all private money that we can get in the ground in downtown Toronto. My task is to do a feasibility study basically to kind of nail down the design, run all the numbers, and try to get a construction cost.
In other words, things that Hunter has been doing throughout his decorated career.
“This is not meant for basketball or hockey but really for a focus on esports and the whole digital experience,” Hunter said.
That experience, as everyone knows, has exploded and even been played by professional athletes who otherwise have been shut down playing in their respective sports.
“I have done enough research to understand the size and reach of this business and it is unbelievable when you think of it being worldwide and watched by — I will call them 15- to 30-year-olds — who are active gamers,” Hunter said. “From a player standpoint, the numbers are off the chart. I know that three or four years ago when we first started talking about this, I thought about acquiring a team in one of the leagues but was skeptical. I was thinking, it’s hot right now, but does it have sustainability? Boy, oh boy, was I proven wrong. Proven wrong many times!
As Hunter mentioned, there will also be concert activity taking place in the venue. The fact that the expected capacity size fills a niche for concerts not readily present in the city only enhances the full scope of the project.
“Obviously, we’re talking to the Live Nations of the world,” Hunter said. “We literally have an amphitheater across the street but don’t have a true winter home. Scotiabank Bank arena is available but we are hoping we convince (concerts) with the saying, if we build it they will come. I’m excited. It’s going to be a fun project.”
As for his involvement after the build, Hunter is more inclined to pass.
“After working 120, 130 nights a year for a long time, the goal is to bring it on live with a young, 32-year-old building manager,” he said. “But I know that this is for real. When you have the Dallas Cowboys and a bunch of NFL teams and a bunch of NBA teams who are in, you know that there is staying power.”
Photo by Robert Paul via Blizzard Entertainment
By Sara Fordham, CMP
If someone asked you what your greatest fear is, what would you say? Heights? Spiders? Clowns, maybe? (Yikes!) Or would you identify more with the fear of large crowds?
For IAVM members across the globe it is most likely NOT crowds because, after all, that’s kind of what we do best. However, hosting a mass gathering during an international pandemic with little to no playbook to go off of may be a new addition to my list of worries given the current climate of the event industry. A way to combat the nerves of reopening is to do what you do best as a venue manager — what you’ve been trained for, what you’ve prepared for and what you already love to do — get into the details and communicate.
When it comes down to opening a facility after a pandemic, every building will be slightly different. Since most states have varying regulations, the requirements to reopen will depend on where the facility is located as well as the stakeholders. At some point, the focus of each facility will need to be on the guest experience. Adapting communication and signage to fit the needs of your venue is a key component to focus on prior to reopening. The following tasks are recommendations on how to get organized and how to pay special attention to the guest experience while writing your reopening procedures.
You Are Not In This Alone: Brainstorm with multiple team members to determine the message you want to send to guests once they return to your facility. Regardless of the message you choose, be sure it is consistent.
Some questions to ask during the brainstorm period are as follows:
– What signage is needed and where?
– How will you share the CDC guidelines and social distancing information with your clients in advance as well as onsite?
– What do guests returning to your venue need to know in order to feel comfortable?
Once you have a complete list, organize and create specific wording for your reopening communication.
Dollars and Cents: Consider your budget first and foremost as you most likely did not have a “pandemic” line item that was previously approved. Perhaps there are areas in your budget that you can pull from in order to assist with the overall signage footprint and guest communication. Whether internally produced or outsourced, identify what signage is most important to your reopening message. This will help you determine what is worth outsourcing and possibly spending money on.
Use What You Have: Look at your inventory in a different light to determine how it can best be used during future socially distanced events. Examples of items that can be used to aid in your signage or attendee flow plan are easels, pipe and drape, display boards, digital signage, rope and stanchion, gaffers tape, A-frames, etc. Get creative with what you have to assist with your bottom line.
Place Signage Appropriately: Outlining the best location to display new facility requirements is an important area of focus. Placing signage at Facility Entrance/Exits (both front and back of house) as well as attendee touch points (doors, concourse areas, food and beverage kiosks, escalators, elevators, restrooms, etc.) is a great way to get messaging across once guests arrive onsite.
Welcome Back: Consider how each person will access your building. With new procedures in place to enter and exit, getting people into your facility is more complex. Items to consider and ask questions about before opening your doors are face covering ordinances, temperature check station requirements, health screenings, and capacity counts. Determine what signage or additional guest service staff is needed to facilitate these new items. The goal here is to ensure guests are returning to your venue in an efficient manner while also remaining safe.
As a reminder, this is the first time you’ve done this. Any mistakes are opportunities to learn and improve. So, don’t be afraid of events hosted during a pandemic. Stay diligent and focused on the safety of all involved. If you prepare correctly and work with a team to focus on your communication strategy beforehand, you can confidently reopen and begin welcoming folks back to your venue.
Sara Fordham, CMP, is Senior Event Manager at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
By Stefanie Tomlin and Eboni Wilson
2020 has been a year of landmines. In February, a young Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, was murdered while jogging in Georgia. We watched him get shot over and over on the news. Next, a worldwide pandemic hit. So, in March, we braced for what some thought would be a short shutdown of our businesses and social lives due to a novel Coronavirus, COVID-19. That same month, we heard about a young Black woman who was killed in her home by police. Though, the story of Breonna Taylor’s murder was given very little credence or attention by those outside of the Black community until May when we watched the life drain from George Floyd’s body for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as he called out for his mother, who had already preceded him in death. Next, we watched strangers, friends, our companies, and other corporations nation-wide stumble through recognizing the value of Black lives publicly for the first time. We were called upon to use our Black voices as shields, as resources, as tools, and as currency. 2020 has been a year of landmines.
So, when we reached out to our IAVM family in May, we were overwhelmed and looking for community and support as we navigated through the minefield. We were looking for information and different perspectives on shared experiences. We were looking for solutions. We were looking for a safe harbor. At a time when we were being asked to be a resource, we were looking for resources at IAVM, and there were none that were tailored for us. So, we did what we always do, we made one for ourselves.
Community matters. We know that because we feel it at every conference, on every zoom call, at every VMS. We say to ourselves, “These are my people. My venue people. My Ops people. My (insert industry sector) people!” We celebrate when we get together. We feel understood. But, underrepresented populations within IAVM have to put in an extra layer of effort in these rooms. Sometimes, that effort is working to offset conscious or unconscious biases that we experience or that we have with non-BIPOC counterparts. Sometimes, it’s dealing with micro-aggressions. Sometimes, it’s navigating patriarchy and sexism. Sometimes it’s the simple fact that our traumas are not taken into account in the workplace. To that end, there’s a lack of formalized communities within which we can commiserate with people who have had proximity to things we’ve been through. Beyond representation, it’s about having a group of people that understand what it’s like to be on the outskirts. It’s important to have a space where you don’t have to code-switch, you can let your guard down, you can be raw and not feel judged. It’s a space where you can talk about your specific intersectionality. We are building a space where we can lay our armor down at the door and get to the business of how we show up as our best selves and do our best work.
Right now, it’s more important than ever to perform at a high level professionally. Community helps to facilitate that effort. To that end, reached out to the Diversity and Inclusive Leadership Committee regarding the creation of a Resource Group. Today we are speaking as Black women and venue professionals, so we started with the Black Resource Group. We know that there are other communities that are underserved in IAVM for whom we cannot speak, so we thought it prudent to expand our scope and co-found the Minority Resources Group as an umbrella for any group that self-identifies as underserved. Some cannot choose how they show up in the world, and that is why it’s important to empower people to find community themselves within the IAVM ecosystem.
The purpose of this group is to be a catalyst within IAVM and the industry at large. Our goal is to replace barriers with bridges and break glass ceilings by gathering and discussing the ways in which we can empower the underrepresented groups within the industry. We will utilize the insights from this group to become change agents for ourselves and create needed change throughout our industry. It is also our sincere desire to create a safe space for these groups and create a community that will lend its voice within the entertainment industry. This Friday, July 31 at 4:30 pm eastern, we will be holding our first-ever Black Resource Group meeting via Zoom. If you identify as BIPOC, we hope you will join us. If you have any questions, we hope you will reach out to us directly. We love questions.
We’re very grateful for all of the support we’ve received so far from our allies within IAVM. We hope that others are inspired to let their voices be heard and will consider joining the Minority Resources Group to found a safe space of your own. We’ll be here to let you know what we learn as we navigate this new venture.
Stefanie Tomlin is General Manager of Kings Theatre, an Ambassador Theatre Group venue, in Brooklyn, New York, and Eboni Wilson is Director, Guest Services, MGM Resorts, in Las Vegas, Nevada.