By Kimberly Mahoney, Ph.D., CVP
Information allows businesses to make informed decisions. There are a number of sources available to venue managers to assist in decision-making, evaluation of day-to-day operations, long-term planning, and negotiations, amongst others. In an effort to support the sharing of information, the IAVM University Committee is working to help bridge the gap between industry and academics. A strong connection between those two groups helps to provide industry professionals with access to the latest research, provide faculty the opportunity to receive industry input on their research, and hopefully will lead to mutually beneficial collaborations.
As a first step, we created space in the VenueConnect program and reached out to current IAVM faculty members regarding their venue management research. As a result, we have three exciting research presentations scheduled for Toronto, addressing very timely issues including diversity, grit, and social media. All three presenters are IAVM members with completed research to share on projects where data was collected from the membership.
We have two sessions scheduled on the trade show floor and, as part of the UVMC, we have a session entitled “Connecting Research and Practice: Venue Data Source and Academic Venue Research” which will include results of a recent survey to university members and one of our featured research presentations. The schedule and descriptions are provided below. We hope you can join us to hear the results of the studies you participated in and start the conversation regarding current and future research. See you in Toronto!
Diversity in Arts & Entertainment Venue Management
– Date: Monday 7/23
– Time: 1:45 pm – 2:15 pm
– Location: Trade Show Floor – Booth 244
– Presenter: Jill Schinberg – University of Kentucky
IAVM has upward of 5,000 members. While there is a research arm of the organization, Venue Data Source, historically there has been no demographic information collected about its membership base. With the newfound emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion that has swept the U.S. market in recent years, a little bit of self-examination seems apropos, at the very least. Because diversity of workforce embodies so much more than racial difference it is imperative that organizations reflect and evaluate in order to instigate change and/or make meaningful progress toward achieving the now commonplace diversity and inclusion initiatives. For the purpose of this preliminary study, we examine the relationship of gender to various categories such as age, position, and education. Which associations, if any, are impacted by the self-identified gender of the respondent?
Grit in Venue Management. Got it? Get it.
– Date: Tuesday 7/24
– Time: 2:45 pm – 3:15 pm
– Location: Trade Show Floor – Booth 200
– Presenter: Susan Jordan, MBA – Spectra
What character trait does it take to succeed in venue management? Grit is defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals. This study seeks to determine if possessing a higher level of grit is a measure of success in the venue management industry as well as its impact on job performance and the connection to happiness, engagement, culture, and generations. The data collected from IAVM members showed that industry leaders had a higher grit level than sixty-five percent of the adult population. The result was a parallel finding of lower levels of grit in younger and less experienced managers than those senior. Since grit is a marker for success of venue managers, the industry can work to develop a culture of grit within its organizations, and foster the growth and practice or programs promoting this character trait.
Social Media Use in Sports & Entertainment Venues 8 Years Later
– Date: Wednesday 7/25
– Time: 10:45 am – 11:30 pm
– Location: Room 715
– Presenter: Dr. Philip Rothschild – Missouri State University
– VC Session: Part 2 of the session titled, “Connecting Research & Practice”
Venue managers are called upon to rent their facility and promote events within an exceptionally competitive market, and today, social media is an essential marketing tool for public assembly venues. This study examined how social media is administered and perceived among managers of various types of facilities, including arenas, stadiums, performing art centers, and convention centers. We will discuss the main findings and implications for venue managers, and compare the results to the same study conducted in 2010.
Kimberly Mahoney, Ph.D., CVP, is assistant professor in the College of Business Sport Management Department at the University of New Haven.
Laurie Barnett serves as managing director communications and outreach for Southwest Airlines. As such, she is expert in the subject area of empowerment and taking good care of customers.
Those will be among her points of emphasis at VenueConnect when she presents a session on Empowering Employees to Do What’s Right for Customers.
Attendees should expect an interactive session where Barnett highlights and shares Southwest Airlines’ best practices for building a strong corporate culture, training your people to deliver the best possible customer service, and empowering employees to turn a negative customer interaction into a positive one. She will share examples from both in-person and social media customer interactions at Southwest Airlines, a company known for its people and exemplary customer service.
When it comes to the public assembly venue world, it is a given that no facility will be completely perfect to the thousands that attend events. Nonetheless, there are some definite actions that can be taken to get that number as close to perfect as possible.
“Your reputation precedes you,” Barnett said. “Delivering a consistent, high-quality product that creates positive buzz (on social media). That experience begins with the idea of visiting your venue, until they have completed that interaction, and in every step of that journey, you have an opportunity to provide excellent hospitality.”
Culture can be a tricky and sometimes elusive term. That also need not be as evidenced by the success that Southwest Airlines has enjoyed over the years in that department.
“At Southwest Airlines, it’s the way we do things around here, how we behave,” Barnett said. “We have always had our core values and have formalized them throughout the years to help guide how we ‘Live and Work the Southwest Way.’ This helps guide how we hire, train, promote, and encourage our employees and is the core of who we are.”
By the end of the session, Barnett said that attendees will have a plate full of tools to work with upon returning to their respective facilities.
“Put people first, promote purpose-driven values, and nurture the culture to create a competitive edge with your customers,” she said.
Global live entertainment leader Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group announced the acquisition of Minnesota-based VStar Entertainment Group and its Florida-based circus arts subsidiary Cirque Dreams. The addition of VStar Entertainment Group to its portfolio allows the Montreal creative powerhouse to expand its audiences with plug-and-play creative content specifically designed for children and families. With its integrated live entertainment platform and broad global distribution network in small theaters, the acquisition of VStar and Cirque Dreams will contribute to further establishing Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group as the world leader in live entertainment for audiences of all ages.
“Building on the successful integration of Blue Man Group over the last year, today we are taking another decisive step towards realizing our ambition. While circus arts will always be at the core of our creative offering, we continue to look for ways to expand and diversify our portfolio with new forms of entertainment and new brands, reaching new audiences and expanding our own creative and production capabilities”, said Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group. “VStar Entertainment Group has a proven track record and recognized expertise in small theatrical production, which complements Cirque du Soleil’s expertise in large-scale production and global touring. We firmly believe the knowledge transfer will help us develop our own capabilities in this type of entertainment and therefore, contribute to growing our footprint in the live entertainment production industry.”
VStar Entertainment Group is a live entertainment provider producing theatrical shows, exhibits, cruise ship shows and outdoor events. VStar is best known for its children and family shows showcasing popular brands from Nickelodeon and Spin Master, such as PAW Patrol. Over nearly four decades, it has built an impressive footprint in the global entertainment industry, presenting over 39,000 performances in more than 40 countries, reaching over two million guests annually. On its own, PAW Patrol Live “Race to the Rescue” toured in 250 cities in 18 countries on 4 different continents in 2017.
“VStar has a history of growing through partnerships with great entertainment brands and we are always on the lookout for the next transformative opportunity. We now find ourselves on the brink of our next chapter and only a global producer like Cirque du Soleil could help us achieve our vision. Their expertise in the live entertainment industry is unparalleled and it is an honor to join forces with their organization”, said Eric Grilly, CEO of VStar Entertainment Group.
Cirque Dreams, founded by Broadway Director Neil Goldberg and established in Florida, is the entertainment group’s circus arts division which successfully produces and operates tours and shows in theatres and various popular touristic venues through partnerships with Norwegian Cruise Line and Gaylord Hotels, among other business to business opportunities. “I have always admired the creative forces behind Cirque du Soleil and could not wish for a better partner to continue developing Cirque Dreams. I look forward to contributing my creative mindset to the company’s evolution”, added Cirque Dreams President Neil Goldberg.
Further expanding its global footprint, AEG Facilities, a stand-alone division of the world’s leading sports, venue and live entertainment company AEG, has been selected by Buenos Aires Arena S.A., a company controlled by La Nación, Argentina’s leading media company, to manage and operate the Buenos Aires Arena, now under construction in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Set to open in mid-2019, the state-of-the-art indoor venue can entertain up to 16,000 guests and will host approximately 100 events annually, including concerts, family shows, festivals, corporate, and special events.
As part of the multi-year, comprehensive management agreement, AEG Facilities will be responsible for all aspects of the arena’s operations beginning with directing all pre-opening functions including overseeing the hiring and training of the venue’s full-time staff and planning and executing the arena’s grand opening activities while managing key departments such as event operations, sponsorship and premium seating sales, booking, security, ticketing, guest services, marketing, public relations, finance, human resources, and overall event management.
“Buenos Aires is one of the leading entertainment and sport markets in the world and now it will be serviced by a world-class venue,” said Chuck Steedman, Chief Operating Officer, AEG Facilities. “We look forward to working with Buenos Aires Arena and the entire Buenos Aires community to provide the most popular and highest levels of international, regional and local sports and entertainment to this beautiful new arena. La Nación has shown great vision with this project and we are very excited to welcome Buenos Aires Arena to AEG’s elite global network of venues in the world’s top cities spanning five continents.”
“We are thrilled to partner with AEG, the leading arena owner and operator in the world, in our new state of the art venue in Buenos Aires. We believe AEG is the right operator for our arena and that together we will bring outstanding quality entertainment experiences to Buenos Aires,” said Luis Saguier, Director of La Nación.
Located in the geographical heart of Buenos Aires, specifically Villa Crespo, the venue will be readily accessible by 19 bus lines, subway and two train lines.
The project will be overseen from AEG’s regional headquarters in São Paulo, Brazil, led by Venancio Castro, Executive Director, AEG LATAM, with additional resources provided by AEG Facilities’ network of offices and venues regionally and globally. This is the second multipurpose arena that AEG Facilities has added in South America recently, with Montevideo, Uruguay’s Antel Arena set to open later in 2018.
Daktronics announced the acquisition of AJT Systems, Inc.’s services and technology to expand the company’s control system features and offerings.
These new features, offerings, and services add to the entertainment for live events customers through the integration of broadcast-style graphics, including real-time live to air graphics rendering and video server systems.
“The acquisition of AJT Systems allows us to expand our offerings for sport and interactive applications,” said Daktronics President and CEO Reece Kurtenbach. “Over time, we will incorporate the technologies they have developed into Daktronics control systems. Our goal is to create a powerful platform for event producers to create a compelling ‘show’ for their fans. We are excited to see our customers take advantage of these new capabilities in future product releases as we continue to make our industry-leading offerings even stronger.”
“We’re looking forward to the new opportunities presented by joining the Daktronics team,” said AJT Systems President Ron Linares. “Being such a large and well-known company in multiple industries, Daktronics will offer new and exciting challenges for our group that we’re excited to take on. We look forward to delivering on the innovation the AJT team is known for as we integrate with Daktronics technology platforms. We would also like to thank Trafalgar Capital Partners LLC for connecting us and serving as the exclusive investment banking advisor to AJT on the transaction.”
Technology from AJT Systems is involved in more than 6,000 events every year from professional sports to high school sports and everything in between. This includes live productions at the highest levels of the broadcast business in the United States such as driving graphics for ESPN broadcasts and ESPN live productions for colleges and universities over ESPN3 and ESPN+.
Their technology is installed in 1,200 systems in stadiums and arenas as well as 700 systems in television stations throughout the country.