Make it Happen

How do you compete with Vegas? The answer is quite simple… You don’t.

However, particularly if you’re in neighboring North Las Vegas, you simply provide great special events.

But still, it’s not so simple. It takes a lot of work, and most of that work is in preparation and having an extremely tight handle on your community’s needs and demographics, from citizens to potential sponsors.

“The number one thing that I would recommend is to be honest with people. The biggest mistake we can make is misunderstanding what special event really means. A special event could be anything, so we can easily get caught up in thinking grandiose or too far outside the box. When I’m planning an event I’m really just trying to get the basic structures in place,” explains Patrick Genovese, recreation programmer, special events for the City of North Las Vegas.

“Know who you’re programming for and program accordingly. Sometimes it sounds so simple, but keeping it simple works. We beat our heads against the wall trying to come up with the most outlandish idea that will knock people’s socks off but it doesn’t always work that way.

“Something that might work in Seattle, like an eclectic jazz festival, might not work here. You have to separate your own personal tastes from what’s actually best for the community, and that’s a tough one for me.”

Steps to Success

Obviously, the first step is the idea itself (given, of course, the necessary demographic homework has already been done. More on that a bit further down…). Then, plot what you intend to achieve and find the avenues you can use to get it done, such as who will sponsor the event, entertainers, infrastructure for the event, staffing, and so on.

Among these steps, says Genovese, make sure to have second and third options, which is particularly crucial if you’re lining up entertainment.

Additionally, utilizing the power of delegation is especially critical to a successful event. Many is the burned-out director who tried to take on too much.

“You can’t micromanage special events; there are just way too many things to track. You’re putting the event’s success in the hands of a lot of subordinate staff, so keeping the staff on task and keeping them focused on the importance of their task is the key to the success of everything,” says Genovese.

“We have internal operations meetings where we bring everyone together to find out where they are in their steps. And if you’re having trouble, swallow your pride and tell someone.”

Genovese explains that a master list of all event components, who’s responsible for those components and what the status is of each is kept on a large grease board in the office.

“Even though we break up huge parts of our events — I handle all contracts, entertainment and media, and another co-worker might handle all operations and logistics while another handles marketing and so on — we break it up and they have subordinate staff who works with them,” explains Genovese.

“It also helps that if someone gets sick the other staff knows exactly what’s going on. You need to be able to pick up the pieces for everyone. You have to have those clear and concise lines of communication. We try not to direct subordinate staff who are not assigned to us without going through their supervisor first. It can get tedious around event time, but it certainly makes for less confusion.”

As the event approaches, things get more frenzied and meetings are held bi-weekly. Once the hopefully-successful event is over, the aftermath is just as important to ensure a successful event next time.

The end of each event includes a post-event analysis. Opinions are solicited from full-time staff in the recreation department who worked for the event, but don’t work in the special events department, as well as other city employees who helped.

Those observations will be joined with customer comments. Genovese says the best way to get a good response rate on customer surveys is to couple it with a give-away.

North Las Vegas has partnered with Southwest Airlines to give away two round-trip airline tickets in a drawing held at the event.

The survey itself is typically limited to five carefully-crafted questions. The survey includes the point that the person filling it out and turning it in is registered to win the tickets.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Boston: Think It Can’t Happen To You?
  2. Triple Threat
  3. Make Partnerships Possible
  4. Special Event Planning Tips
  5. Rollin’ Through Town
  • Columns
  • Departments