You, as an IAVM member, are our most important asset. Without your commitment to the association and to the venue management industry, we wouldn’t be here. Because of your support, we are featuring member profiles in our I Am Venue Management series. If you are interested in participating in the I Am Venue Management series, please visit http://www.iavm.org/i-am-venue-management-share-your-story.
If I wasn’t doing this I’d: love to open up a farm-to-plate smoked meat barbecue restaurant or charcuterie bistro. Spending time working with craft beers and smoked meats seems like a cool way to pass the time. I just need to grow a beard. But I truly don’t think there is any other profession that operates at the same speed as the sports and entertainment world.
Most impressive person I’ve ever met: was Wayne Gretzky. Getting the opportunity to work at Rexall Place (Northlands Coliseum) and meet Wayne in the place where he built and solidified his legacy has been pretty special.
I unwind by: cooking, usually smoking some form of barbecue. On days off I tend to go to a local butcher, figure out what I want that day, go home and experiment with brisket, pork belly, depends what I feel like on the day.
On my desk right now is: the latest copy of Avenue (local Edmonton magazine) to see what Edmontonians are interested in and spending their money on, Sports Business Journal to continually keep a beat on what is happening in sports business, my Downtown Edmonton Community League membership card, and a pair of cufflinks made from original seats in Rexall Place.
My favorite IAVM program I ever attended was: definitely Venue Management School (VMS) at Oglebay. It’s such a unique setting to learn and interact not only with peers and up-and-coming managers within the industry but also some of the most accomplished venue managers. There’s a huge social component to VMS, which is appreciated by young leaders, such as myself. Speaking with individuals from all levels within the industry builds confidence and helps develop relationships. This is a great skill to bring back to work.
If I were on the other side of the seats, I’d be: an agent. I’ve always been attracted to what they do.
One trait an up-and-coming venue manager should have is: a “never say NO attitude.” Take this attitude to every decision you make. If the job seems too small, ensure yourself that it will benefit your career if you’re the person willing to roll up your sleeves and get it done. If the job seems too large or daunting, take on the challenge and learn the skills necessary to get the job completed. Make sure you understand the difference between a “never say NO” and a “Yes” attitude, because in this industry there are certainly times you won’t be able to say yes.
One up-and-coming venue star in the arena industry is: Tricia Bedard, the manager of guest experience at Rexall Place. In the past few years, Trish has engaged herself in the industry at an alarming rate. She has taken it upon herself to plan and execute trips to other North American venues to establish best practices and implement these here at Rexall Place. Tricia has become not just a trusted advisor within our leadership team at our venue and organization, but also to our tenants and touring guests that frequent our building.
One of my goals for this year is to: completely reinvent the way our organization approaches sports and entertainment. We are entering a transition period where our long-term tenants, the Edmonton Oilers (42 years) and Edmonton Oil Kings (10 years), will be leaving our building. Through this, we will maintain our commitment to deliver new and diverse entertainment options to the people of Edmonton as they have come to expect from us.
How do you plan to help elevate the profession? I have been exceptionally lucky throughout my young career in the industry to have excellent leaders and mentors, both within my organization and throughout my IAVM network. I plan on helping up-and-coming venue managers map their careers for success in the industry.
Where do you see new growth opportunities in the profession? The use of predictive analytics is where I see the most growth for this profession. I would love to see this used on a large scale to see how different events are going to perform in venues. Everything from ticket sales, expected attendance, food and beverage per caps, merchandise to guest concerns can be tracked and analyzed quantitatively to help properly steer the business decisions of your venue.
How do you stay current with industry trends and developments? I would have to say that Twitter is probably my first resource to be in the know with industry trends. I’m on there a few times a day making sure I’m not missing anything that is going on in the industry. I follow a bunch of the agencies, leagues, teams, etc. Beyond the industry, I’m constantly researching what people in the local market are doing and what events are impacting their spending habits. I’m continually intrigued by how global events shape the local economy, throughout Alberta and especially in Edmonton.
Who are three people you’d invite to a dinner party and why? I would want to invite Arthur Fogel (CEO of Global Touring for Live Nation) for his insight into the world of live performance and touring entertainment, Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla and SpaceX) for his ingenuity and entrepreneurialism, and Mark Parker (CEO of Nike) because he runs the most powerful brand in the sports industry. I think there would be an enormous amount to learn with all that power in the room. Or, one hell of a sports and entertainment event would be planned.
Mike Warkentin is the venue manager at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta.