Top 20 Ways to ensure Longevity in the Event Industry

Recently, Lenny Talarico, Director of Events, attended the BizBash LA Idea Fest ’12. During his busy schedule assisting in the launch of BizBash’s new ideation tool, IdeaBooks, Lenny had the opportunity to hear one of our event industry colleagues, Cheryl Cecchetto. Among her many informative ideas, she discussed 20 questions to ask yourself to ensure longevity in the event industry.

It got us thinking, we at MGM Resorts Events attribute our longevity to affirmative answers to these very same questions.

Great thoughts to be in a leadership position, no matter what business you're in. What do you think? Any questions you would add?

1. Do you go above and beyond with client requests?

2. Are you attentive to the details? Is your team?

3. Are your client’s always fully informed on status updates?

4. What is your real response time like?

5. Do you focus on honing quality relationships with clients?

6. Do you stay in-touch year round with clients?

7. Do you share their highs & lows and understand their issues?

8. Do you exceed expectations?

9. Do you have original ideas, or do you sell what’s easy and in stock?

10. Do you focus on what’s right for the client/event or do what is easy?

11. Do you own your mistakes?

12. Do you deliver what you say you will?

13. Do you nurture loyalty?

14. Do you prioritize the needs of your client over costs?

15. Do you have a clear understanding of the client’s philosophy from the start?

16. Do you know the clients interests? Their Mission statement?

17. Do you really listen to the client? Or do you lecture?

18. Are you open and approachable?

19. Do you meet deadlines?

20. Do you reach for the stars?


5 Fabulous Fabric Ideas

We LOVE fabric! Everything about it. Few materials provide a more versatile & cost effective solution for transforming an event space than fabric. Take a look at some of our favorite ways to play with fabric…

1. Cut it!

This seamless piece of muslin was hand-cut to create an enormous, web-like chandelier...

Hanging over a bar at Aria Resort.

Providing an stunning treatment above a model at a fashion show at Bellagio Las Vegas.

The addition of contra leaves and crystal beads help fill in the cavernous ceiling for a concert in the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

A violinist performs inside of a gilded cage, underneath a fabric chandelier during a VIP luncheon in the Marquee Ballroom of the MGM Grand.

2. Create Canopies!

Lounge environments under flowing fabrics are a great way to add an intimate atmosphere to large or outdoor event spaces...

Thematic Moroccan canopies complete with daybeds, pillows, and gorgeous entertainers at Haze Nightclub.

The complete transformation of a meeting room at MGM Grand features a canopied area with patchwork ottomans.

The Patio at Haze Nightclub was transformed into an extension of the club by the addition of small, canopied environments.

3. Swag it!

Swagged fabrics from the ceiling add dimension and dramatic color to this hand-crafted chandelier of glass bubbles at The Mirage.

Simple swags of gold and red provide an elegant stage backdrop for a Bellagio hosted corporate dinner.

Dramatic tones of eggplant and silver fabrics offset the tangerine-colored linens providing a sumptuous setting for this dinner party at Bellagio.

4. Shred it!

No scraps go unused! Even shredded scrap fabrics can be used to create an edgy, contemporary, ethereal look...

This lounge area in the promenade of Bellagio is accented by dancers encased in ice, and crystal beads & fabric shreds dangling from the ceiling.

The shredded fabric and crystal bead design continues inside the event space suspended from icy chandeliers.

Utilizing a similar concept, the backdrop to the band in this cocktail reception is created with shredded fabrics and swags.

5. Print on it!

With the variety of technologies available in wide-format printing, many fabrics can be printed with graphic designs and incorporated into the event design...

Buddha heads and other designs printed fabric, then suspended over cabanas and backlit from inside, create a tranquil feeling at a poolside event at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

A playful graphic pattern is printed on fabric, stretched on aluminum frames, and turned into columns at this event at Mandalay Bay.

…And then again, sometimes it’s just nice to use sheer fabric to soften a room and simply illuminate the drape from behind...

A 12’ wide fan crafted from organic materials is placed behind sheer gauze and illuminated to a soft shimmer inside the ballroom at The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas.

At the Mirage Las Vegas, paper lanterns dangle overhead as guests dined within fabric-draped canopies of sheer muslin. Candlelight and a soft wash of amber provided a romantic glow.

Photography by Curtis Dahl and Kelly McKeon


8 Values of a Successful Team-Effective

The 8 Values of a Successful Team acronym CREATIVE ends with “E” for “Effective”.

Brenda Reichert states that “An effective leader is someone that does the right things and avoids doing the wrong things”. Words we live by at MGM Resorts Events. She adds, “Although the Event Manager is at the center of an event’s success, it is the communication, direction, leadership and responsibility expressed by all the leaders that matters. Being effective in all efforts drives the ultimate success of an event. All of the steps we take are put in place so that we can be effective along the way and continue smoothly to the desired end result”.

Jim McCoy quotes Alice In Wonderland “Curiouser and curiouser”!

Jim laments - “Meetings and events everywhere are experiencing an interesting evolution. One common denominator we are all experiencing is that the business cycle has changed in a manner by which we are unaccustomed, and it is coming from directions that we did not anticipate”.

"Smaller budgets were anticipated. However, the extreme edits in lead time and long-term preparation were not. This new equation requires focus on what our clients now expect from us as event professionals. Not to mention the continual awareness of what the competition is willing to do to secure a piece of work”. (Note- as this post was being prepared, a call came in for a "Dinner in Heaven" to be executed for a VVIP client in 4 days!)

“With this new approach to business, we rely more than ever on our core values that keep us strong and moving forward. What brought us to the level of success that we are at today? What motivates us to be the industry leader? What makes us stand out in the crowd? It is our 8 Values of a Successful Team that keep us focused on the path in which we are heading. And it is those Values that will keep us together as a unit and team, continually looking forward and accepting the challenges that will make us grow creatively and fiscally”.

Brenda continues – “For our events, it is not only the effectiveness within MRE, but our synergy with our counterparts at the properties owned by MGM Resorts International. Our effectiveness spills over to the property teams we work with - Convention Sales & Services, Catering & Banquet Staff, and our corporate Audio/Visual teams to ensure our client’s expectations are met or exceeded. We strive to not only be effective internally, but also an effective partner to all of the MGM Resorts International properties”.

Here’s a recap of our core values:


Does your organization have values that are the heart of your operation?


8 Values of a Successful Team-Value Driven

2011 may mark the beginning of what some consider the rebound of the economy. Economists debate the validity of this, but cautious optimism remains.

PCMA, The Professional Convention Management Association Annual Meeting “Convening Leaders” is in Las Vegas, right now, as I write this. Among the many relevant topics being tweeted, discussed, and mulled over is that in the special event, convention, and meeting industry, more and more attention is being paid to the ROI of event marketing, incentive programs, and meetings. In a word, Value is King. And Value can be a loaded word.

When asked about his take on the “V” in our CREATIVE acronym – Value Driven – Event Manager, Jeremy Collins, shares a historical perspective. “The word ‘value’ was originally used in the 14th century and means ‘a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged.’ ” Pretty self-explanatory.

“Driven” is a far more recent term, first used in 1925. Defined as “having a compulsive or urgent quality” or “propelled or motivated by something.” When you put the two words together, things take shape.

Jeremy continues, “The industry has evolved over the past few years. The booking window is shorter, budgets are tighter, the market is competitive” - customers expect Value. To thrive in 2011 it is essential to be Value Driven through…

1.) efficiency, in both design and operations,


2.) creativity, in both design and operations.

We professionals at PCMA all strive to accomplish our client’s objectives – on time and in budget – and to deliver an experience unlike any other. But what makes an event company truly stand out?

Speaking on behalf of MGM Resorts Events, Value for our Las Vegas clients starts with a vast, custom-designed inventory that can be repurposed in a variety of ways, giving clients cost effective alternatives. We showcased this process in the production of the Welcome Reception, and transitioning into the following luncheons. Through strategic planning, much of the perimeter décor and stage treatment (with MGM Grand Productions) was repurposed from the recent MGM Grand New Years Eve Gala. This strategy provided an exceptional event experience that was made possible by a well-planned, collaborative effort by all concerned.

What began as an exquisite sit-down NYE dinner for 1800 guests…

…transitioned into a energetic, lounge-style reception for 3500+…

…complete with a Twitter Lovers Lounge!

What began as an Old-World, Cuban street and garden scene for NYE…

…transitioned into a bit of Vintage Vegas, complete with Elvis, Liberace, and lots and lots of Showgirls!...

Check out the fabulous, full-scale mirrored spinning grand piano!

And finally, the amazing LED stage and entertainment by MGM Grand Productions and Entertainment, & VER

Became the ultimate backdrop for a Vegas “Then & Now” entertainment spectacular!

NYE Photos by Dahl Photographers, PCMA Photos by Kelly McKeon


8 Values of a Successful Team-Innovative

After a fun and naughty romp through The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the last blog post, the time has come for musings on the subject of Innovation. Event Solutions Magazine recently asked what I felt was the best innovation of the past 12 months, as it related to the special event and meeting planning industry. I thought long and hard about the answer, as certainly, there are many. With so many innovative technological advances in equipment, as well as the plethora of internet-based technologies, my top choice would be quite difficult to determine. But after much deliberation, and evaluating the state of the industry from all angles, I came to a conclusion that is decidedly less high-tech.

I feel the industry is on the verge of something very special; something that, in the long run, is going to be of great benefit for the consumers of event-related products and services, as well as the providers.

What is the greatest innovation of the past 12 months? Speaking with the utmost conviction, I feel the greatest innovation is the Power of TRUE perseverance, professionalism, and passion.

Allow me to explain. There is no question the special event and meeting planning industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 3 decades. The exceptional level of product that so many of my colleagues and friendly competitors produce both domestically, and internationally, is nothing short of amazing! I am honestly thrilled, and humbled, to have remained in the company of so many phenomenal professionals for so many years.

But at no time in those 30 years, have there been more economic challenges, sweeping advances to keep pace with, or such a heightened awareness of “value” from clients and planners, as in the past 12 months. Customers demand, deserve, and expect the very best value, and rightly so, they seek until their value criterion has been met. And sophisticated consumers never confuse price with value.

I have seen many persevere as a result of reinventing their businesses, and themselves, into leaner & more efficient operating machines. To persevere, it has become not just important, but absolutely essential to do more- a LOT more, with less- a LOT less. All without ever showing signs of fatigue. To truly succeed in the special event industry of today takes stamina, an iron will, nerves of steel, and an attitude and willingness to constantly strive for better. One must take the hits, and stand back up and be ready for more.

In addition to perseverance, the past 12 months has taught many the necessity of reaching new levels of professionalism. Being “really creative” or “artsy” is no longer an acceptable prerequisite for industry professionals. The days are ending for “wanna-be’s”. Street smarts coupled with academia; a broad range of analytical, financial, & management skills; an understanding of all disciplines of the industry; sales & marketing acumen; and exceptional creativity are now the bare minimum needed to share the field with so many exceptional event pros.

Adapting to changes in the business environment in innovative ways is not easy. These things can only be accomplished if one is truly passionate about what they do. For passion is what makes it all worthwhile!

Real innovation and transformation is accomplished by focusing on goals, not on obstacles. Because in life as in business, it’s You against You.

Perseverance, Professionalism, Passion.


8 Values of a Successful Team-Timely

“Timely” & the Thom Pass Time Warp!!

Event Manager, Thom Pass, is caught preparing his performers (partnering with Farrington Productions) for his Gala Award-nominated event-interpretation of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at Bellagio Resort.

…with a little help from Director of Events & Corporate Sales, Lenny Talarico.

Lip-licking candy apples by Bellagio Catering.

Saints & Sinners, NBP Productions, had the crowd rockin’ all night long!

Thom’s story- When King first asked that I prepare a blog post on the “T” of the MGM Resorts Events “CREATIVE” acronym-Timely, my first thought was “Where in the Hell am I going to find time to write this”?! Week after week passed and finally the time came when he peeked his head inside my office and asked “How is the post coming along, Thommy? Think I can get it tomorrow”? Timely…I don’t think so…. as my desk was buried and my phone was ringing off the hook with clients and vendors needing information NOW. Putting this into perspective…I was asked three months ago to do this.

We can all find excuses not to do something. Is it we are over loaded with work? Stressed out? Are the creative juices just not flowing? Plain old procrastination? 6:00 PM and its time for happy hour? Or possibly all of the above???

I strongly believe in “Passion”. I try to LIVE it, CREATE with it, and to USE it everyday in my life. This “Passion” comes along with a timeframe in designing an event. I know that my vision and proposal needs to be communicated to my client, and as we all know, this alone can be a lengthy process. The contracts, payments and insurance requirements need to be received from all parties involved. Flowers, décor and entertainment need to sourced and secured from around the world. Fabrication of specialty props, signage….labor has to be coordinated. The list goes on…

Then come the Design Meetings, Sales Meetings, Production Meetings, Management Meetings, Pre-Cons, Post-Cons and our weekly staff-wide meeting-Talk Tuesday …how many more meetings does one need? People, I can you tell you this, without each of these meetings, timely execution of every aspect of the event would not happen efficiently. It is in these meetings that our team communicates concerns, exchanges ideas, and addresses opportunities that might arise during the event. One of our philosophies at MGM Resorts Events is that “Planning and Preparation leads to Timeliness”.

The MGM Resorts Events management team developed an Event Process Wheel, in which each process depends on the timely execution of the prior process. Each and every day, this execution route can be seen, and in the end, each and every department will have fulfilled its obligation to the overall production of the event. Again, Timeliness is the key word here. One department cannot effectively do their job without the correct and timely performance from the other.

Clients expect, deserve, and demand an exceptionally produced final product. We as event professionals are expected to deliver that product while working within the confines of profitability and operational efficiency, while maintaining the flexibility to address the unanticipated variables that frequently occur in the event industry.

We at MGM Resorts Events accomplish this while producing 800+ events a year by Thinking and Being Ahead of the Curve.

Plan for tomorrow today
Plan for next week this week
Plan for next month this month
Plan for next year this year.

Photography by Kelly McKeon


8 Values of a Successful Team-Accountability

As we continue to strive in “living” our company values, the “A” in the MGM Resorts Events “CREATIVE” acronym has very special meaning. When asked, we’ve found that most people on all levels simply want to be held accountable, with clear and concise direction. This makes it possible to focus of goals, not on obstacles.

The legendary UCLA coach, John Wooden, recently passed, but he left with us so many meaningful and wonderful thoughts. One of my personal favorites is “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do”.

Lenny Talarico, CSEP, heads the corporate event sales department of MGM Resorts Events. He operates in a world of accountability everyday. Below are just a few examples of his impeccably produced events.

On the subject of accountability, Lenny channels his child within and muses…

“One of my all-time favorite childhood stories is the Italian classic, Pinocchio. The story, written by Carlos Collodi, first appeared in 1883, but really enjoyed worldwide success after the 1940 animated classic was released by Walt Disney. I remember seeing the animated version on the big screen as a child. The cornerstone of Walt Disney movies is and has always been movies with messages. The take-away from Pinocchio is, of course, a fairly straight forward one, “listen to your parents, don't tell lies, and do the right thing."

The entire movie is about being accountable. The main character learns in the roughest of circumstances what happens to little boys who are not brave, truthful, and unselfish. He is tricked, cheated, lied to, and kidnapped, sometimes with his own consent as he ignores his conscience. The film clearly portrays how consequences are a result of our actions. One only need listen to the lyrics sung by Jiminy Cricket and look no further for a lesson on accountability, "always let your conscious be your guide". Accountability is that little voice each of us has in the back of our head, it is our own personal Jiminy Cricket telling us “do the right thing, be responsible for your actions".
As leaders, the lesson for us is clear; you must accept responsibility for the results (good or bad) you allow to be created. Leaders must be accountable for the consequences of their and their team’s actions, or in some cases-consequences due to inaction. When something goes wrong, or a project does not turn out as intended, leaders who practice “100% Accountability-0% Excuses” need to look inward to explore how the actions taken impacted the result.

Rather than playing the blame game, or pointing fingers at external causes, leaders who practice accountability seek to understand their contribution to a problem, in doing so they learn and grow in response to those challenges.
When all individuals within an organization adopt the concept of personal accountability, there is less blame placed on others and more focus on moving forward to achieve the goals of the organization.

Being 100% accountable is not always easy; undoubtedly each of us will face challenges, its part of life. How we choose to handle those challenges defines who we are as leaders. The simple way to stay focused on accountability is clear, listen to Jiminy Cricket; "take the straight and narrow path and when you start to slide, give a little whistle and always let your conscious be your guide."

Better words could not be spoken.

Photography Credit-
Photos 1, 3, 4-Kelly McKeon
Photo 5- Paul Cichocki
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