Backstage Pass: Event & Arena Marketing Conference - The 4 Must-See Sessions

Venue execs convene at Event and Arena Marketing Conference seeking strategies to boost promotion skills and sell more tickets.

Panel: Katrina and the Superdome: Shelter of Last Resort

When: June 11

Where: Galeries 1 &2, New Orleans Marriott

As they convene in New Orleans, EAMC attendees will revisit one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of live venues, with a first-hand account of what it was like when more than 40,000 evacuees took shelter in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina struck the city in August 2005. The building, which was rechristened the Mercedes-Benz Superdome following a naming-rights deal in 2011, has been operated since 1977 by the venue management company known today as SMG. "Katrina and the Superdome: Shelter of Last Resort" is the title of a June 11 opening address at EAMC from Doug Thornton, SMG executive vp stadiums and arenas, who was the key SMG representative on site during the storm. "At the end of the day, the dome did save thousands of lives," said Thornton at the time. Since 1977, the Super Bowl also has helped establish the new model of private management of publicly owned venues, which has since become common, as SMG partnered with the state of Louisiana. "It changed the way cities and states approached their facilities," says Thornton today.

Panel: Best Practices - Tradition and Digital Marketing

When: June 13

Where: Galerie 3, New Orleans Marriott

The "hot and trendy" marketing panels at touring industry events typically focus on the importance of incorporating social media into marketing campaigns, says Sarah Haertl, regional director of marketing at SMG Tulsa, which oversees the BOK Center and Cox Business Center in Oklahoma. But for a panel she'll moderate at EAMC on June 13, Haertl says, "I wanted to do something that talks about digital and where that's going, but that also [brings the focus] back to traditional marketing and the meat and potatoes of what venue marketers do in their day-to-day job," noting that the majority of her budgets are still spent on traditional marketing, like TV, radio and print. Haertl says her "industry icon" panelists Jim Delaney (the former director of marketing and PR at TD Garden in Boston) and Molly Haydon (who has served as the director of national marketing and publicity for such family tours as Walking With Dinosaurs and Batman Live) will speak on "the tried and true of what works with marketing, and also look into the future of where it's going digitally and what we should all be doing to help sell tickets."

Keynote Address: Engaging a Passionate Fan Base

When: June 12

Where: Mardi Gras Ballroom, New Orleans Marriott

For World Wrestling Entertainment events and broadcasts, Stephanie McMahon and her husband, wrestler Paul "Triple H" Levesque, play the role of an evil power couple who co-own WWE. When she's not wreaking fictional havoc during appearances with her muscular spouse, McMahon serves as chief brand officer for WWE, which broadcasts in 150 countries and produces 320 live events annually. "Live events are the heart and soul of our business," she says. During her EAMC keynote address on June 12, McMahon will discuss how WWE engages its fan base of 13 million weekly U.S. TV viewers and nearly 340 million social media followers. "We do that in a number of different ways," she says, citing social media, TV, merchandise, live events and a new online animated series. McMahon's keynote will also touch on the new WWE Network, which launched in February and has amassed 667,000 subscribers. The network app also allows fans to access WWE programing on mobile devices. "We like to say it's like Netflix, only better," she says, "because not only do we offer a very rich library of video on-demand content, but we also couple that with a live 24/7 streaming channel."

Panel: Doing Good Is Good Business -Combining Marketing and Public Relations

When: June 13

Where: Galerie 3, New Orleans Marriott

With nearly 40 years of experience as a promoter of family-geared productions like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Ice Capades and WWE, Bob Collins has learned a thing or two about giving back to the communities where his shows pass through. "The area of nonprofit, charity tie-ins and community relations is one that I've always been involved with," says Collins, a longtime EAMC attendee who retired from WWE in 2008, of this panel which he will moderate. "It's not all selfless, because in doing these community-relations efforts, you're also very likely getting in return media exposure and favorable publicity."


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