Monthly Archives: March 2016

Reno-Sparks 2015 Citizen Special Event Survey


Photo Credit: RSCVA & UNR Center for Regional Studies

The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority (RSCVA) partnered with the City of Reno and City of Sparks to collect opinions from locals about special events. They wanted to hear from residents in particular because if they aren’t drawn to special events in the community the events probably won’t be attractive enough to draw tourists from out the area. The other goals were to share the information with event producers so they can use them to enhance their events, and use the information to solicit new events. Special events play a valuable role in our community. They add to quality of life and generate economic impact for the region. It is important to have a combination of residents and tourists to support special events.

Nina Brown, RSCVA; Francine Burge, City of Sparks; and Alexis Hill, City of Reno were the leaders for the survey project. They did a fantastic job! The survey was funded by the RSCVA, City of Sparks and City of Reno. Survey analysis was provided by Center for Regional Studies at University of Nevada. The survey responses are going to be incredibly helpful to all of us event producers in the region.

The results of the survey were shared with event producers at a meeting this week. There was a lot of good information, way too much to review in one blog post.  There were a few results that were very fascinating to me. I will elaborate in future blog posts, but for now I’d like to highlight a few results that caught my attention.

Reno…Always Tardy for the Party!

The survey asked “When you go to an event, how far in advance do you make the decision to attend?” The top two responses were when first notified of event and the week of the event. Very few responders made plans further than a week before the events they attended. Event producers constantly talk about how Reno-Sparks ticket buyers usually buy tickets the day of the event and it always makes us nervous because we can’t forecast event attendance. The survey results just proved that we were right in our theory that they don’t plan ahead. It also made me think we should boost all of our advertising big time the week of the event to get as many locals to show up as possible.

Traditional Media Isn’t Dead

Everyone is crazy about social media and e-newsletters. If you want to attract millennials that is where you should be. If you want to attract customers 35 and older, you might want to consider spending some money on periodic publications, TV or radio. In the Reno-Sparks market that seems to be where most people over 35 years old get information about events and activities to attend.

Reno-Sparks is Price Sensitive

When it comes to spending money at events or on tickets, customers in the Reno-Sparks area are very price sensitive. They want to attend free events but not pay much for them. This is a pretty hard business model to follow. I couldn’t help but wonder if this community culture was caused by the heyday of the casinos when everything was comped because gaming was so profitable. Did everyone get used to having great experiences, the best entertainment, and low cost food and beverage subsidized by gambling? Why aren’t people willing to pay for the experiences that the special events offer?  How can we make sure to price events correctly and offer enough value to keep customers coming back? This section of the report gave me a lot to ponder.

I look forward to delving deeper into the survey and applying the knowledge to the events I produce. Stay tuned for more blog posts about the survey results. There are countless morsels of good information to share that event producers can use to improve their events and give customers more of what they want. I can’t wait to apply some of the lessons learned this upcoming event season!

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Brew HaHa 2016 Event Recap

One of my favorite annual events to produce is Brew HaHa. This year we celebrated Brew HaHa’s 21st birthday. The beer tasting event is a fan favorite for beer enthusiasts in Reno and all over the west coast. With 76 breweries pouring 3-4 types of beer you should easily be able to find some new favorites. Many breweries launch or market test new beers at the event. The variety and different styles of beer poured at Brew HaHa gives fans something to look forward to every January.

This is truly a community event. All of the beer at Brew HaHa is donated by breweries and local distributors. Beer comes from all over the country. Highlights from this year’s event included a raffle with more beer swag than anyone could imagine, live music by Whitney Myer, and the extremely impressive Artist Village. The Artist Village featured 40 artists. It is fun to see guests at the event interacting with the artists and buying art directly from the artist. The event gives artists an opportunity to network and share their art with the community while also helping Sierra Arts raise funds to support arts programs.

3-9-16 BrewHaHa Check

Sierra Arts Foundation Check Presentation 2016

This year Brew HaHa 2016 was an enormous success!  We raised $38,752 for Sierra Arts Foundation. The event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Sierra Arts. The funds will support Sierra Arts community arts programs, such as the Elder Care Concert Series, the Arts Integrations Project, and my personal favorite Arts in Education program.

This is one of my favorite events because it is so unique. There are a lot of beer events, but Brew HaHa is special because it has its own vibe and unique atmosphere. Everyone that works the event is fabulous! I have fun working with the brewers and distributors to make sure all the beer makes it to the event and everything goes well. The Sierra Arts Foundation employees and volunteers are top-notch. We have so much fun working together it doesn’t even feel like work.

I absolutely love this event! What’s not to love? We work closely with the Sierra Arts team to throw the biggest kegger in northern Nevada. Finally all those skills I developed having parties in my youth are paying off. I’m now using those skills to raise funds to support the arts community, and that is something to be proud of.

The next Brew HaHa is scheduled for Friday, January 27, 2017 at Nugget Casino Resort.

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Networking Advice for the Next Generation


Photo by: jessiconde

I spoke to a group of university students studying public relations last week. The students all had an interest in entertainment, special events and sports so the journalism school offered a panel of guest speakers to discuss these types of careers. The program started with a moderator asking questions and then we finished with a question and answer session.

I enjoyed participating in the panel. The students had great questions and were very engaged. During the question and answer session one student asked about networking. He is a DJ that specializes in a very specific type of music. I could tell he was passionate about his work. He said he was occasionally in situations where he was building relationships with contacts at parties, but often the next day he would regret what he did or said because he had been drinking. This young man’s situation is not rare, especially in the service and entertainment industry. These things are bound to happen unless you take extra precautions and know your limits.

This was the networking advice I gave him…

  1. Protect Your Reputation

Do whatever you can to protect your reputation. Then I went on and explained how when I was growing up my mother told me I had a midnight curfew because nothing good happens after midnight. I could see his eyes about to burst out of his head at the thought of a midnight curfew, so I recommended he give himself a curfew around 2:00 a.m., which isn’t bad in this 24-hour town. He is a DJ so it is important for him to be out networking, but it is also important for him to leave before all the drama goes down and people start acting crazy. If people perceive you to be a partier that has too much fun, they won’t perceive you to be a smart expert in your field. Perception becomes reality. People fail to realize how important reputations are to being successful.

  1. Be Genuine

There is so many fake people in the world today, it is exacerbated and encouraged by social media and reality television. People can tell if you aren’t genuine. There is a certain sixth sense that most people have that allows them to tell when someone is fake. If you want to build good working relationships and your network you need to keep it real. This doesn’t mean you should over share, it just means you need to be authentic so people will get to know the real you. People like helping and doing business with people they know and trust.

  1. Diversify your Network

Don’t just network at parties and industry events. Every person you meet has something to add to your life. It is important to have a broad network with people from many different fields. Grow your network to include people with different backgrounds, ages, races, religion, political views, special interests and hobbies. You wouldn’t believe how many opportunities I’ve had because a friend mentioned me to a business acquaintance, friend or family member. I recommend joining clubs and pursuing hobbies that will introduce you to people from different circles. Life Lesson: Don’t just make friends at “da club.”

These are just a few words of wisdom shared with the journalism students. I appreciated the student asking such a direct question about networking. One piece of advice that I wish I would have hit harder is to keep an open mind while developing your network. Keeping an open mind and meeting different people in different situations will introduce you to new possibilities you never dreamed of, and will help you grow as a professional. This is a life lesson that once learned can really make a difference.

Looking to improve your networking skills?
Check out this article from Inc.Com.
7 Networking Tips for Introverts, Extroverts, and the Socially Awkward

Know any young people that could use this advice?  Please share this post with them by using the handy social media buttons below.

The Business Cycle for Event Producers

Business Cycle - MadAboutEventsBlog.comThe business cycle is one of my boss’s favorite discussion topics. If you want to be successful in business or be a successful event producer you need to know about the business cycle. You better pay close attention to your performance and financial statements so you know your business cycle stage.

Business cycles are often described as periods of expansion and recession in the course of business. The cycle happens over and over. There are three main stages to the business cycle. The stages are growth, stability and decline.  It is important to have good accounting so you know what stage your business is in at all times. If your business slips into decline and you see the trend in your numbers it is important to find a way to grow, or you may just go out of business.

The business cycle also applies to special events. Many long term events stay in the stability stage for a long period of time. Events are able to maintain the stability stage a lot longer than most businesses. I’m in that situation with one of the events I produce. The event saw rapid growth but then over the last three years the numbers have been very stable. They are great numbers, but we aren’t seeing much growth. I don’t want to see the event get in to the declining stage, so we are trying to add more value and new experiences for event attendees.

Another event I plan, Nugget Star Spangled Sparks, is in the decline stage. This year is the 17th annual event. The event saw nice growth the first ten years. Then the event became stable. Sponsorships weren’t growing, revenue from food and beverage wasn’t growing, it was all stable but no real growth. This was pretty good considering it was the great recession. Then over the last six years revenue has slipped and the event has been hit with rising expenses. Even though the economy has improved, the event’s financial statement has not. This has pushed the event into the decline stage. The event has lost a few sponsors and seen event production expenses rise. Now we are faced with the reality the event is in the decline stage.

The decline stage doesn’t have to last long. This is the time to come up with new ideas and adapt to the business climate. That is why we are adding more daytime activities to Star Spangled Sparks. For example, this year the event will have a Patriotic Bike Parade for kids of all ages. Right now we are looking for the perfect sponsor for the bike parade. Maybe I’ll call Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys “R” Us tomorrow to see if he is interested.

Star Spangled Sparks will also feature craft vendors for the first time. We are trying to find additional sponsors and accepting donations through a GoFundMe campaign. With any luck all of these efforts will bring the event back to the growth stage and we can continue to expand the event for future generations.

The business cycle is important to consider when you produce special events. Especially because analyzing the business cycled doesn’t leave room for denial. As long as you keep good records and accurate accounting you should be able to tell what stage your event is in the business cycle. Don’t ignore the cycle and you will be able to live through the decline stage and find new growth opportunities.

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Shamrock Shuffle into Sparks Saturday

Calling all leprechaun runners!

Saturday, March 5, is the 4th annual Shamrock Shuffle in downtown Sparks. Shamrock Shuffle runners will be decked out in green running gear, funky holiday socks, and as much St. Patrick’s Day flare as they can collect.

The fun-run race begins at 4:00 p.m. on Victorian Avenue, right off Pyramid cross section in front of O’Skis Pub and Grill. Runners are encouraged to wear lots of crazy costumes for the 3.1 mile run through downtown Sparks. The more green the better! Registration is $25 per person and proceeds benefit Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful.

When the race is over, the fun doesn’t stop! After the fun-run enjoy great music and the after party. Crawl Reno is hosting a downtown bar crawl. Each bar has a $3 drink special, there will be costume contests and lots of photo ops.

If you go…

  1. Dress to impress! There will be awards for best costume and fastest leprechaun.
  2. Don’t forget to pick up your registration packet!
  3. Parking is available in the free parking garages in the area.
  4. Have a ton of fun! Be ready to have a blast and enjoy the after party with other fun-runners!
  5. Don’t drink and drive. Get an Uber, take a taxi, or stay at the Nugget. Use Group Code TSHAMRK for a $39 room rate in the premier tower (plus resort fee and taxes) based on availability.

The deadline to register for the 2016 Shamrock Shuffle is 4pm on Friday, March 4.

For more information go to

3-3-16 Shamrock Shuffle

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