Now in its 88th year, the annual conference and trade show of the International Assn. of Venue Managers remains a must-attend event for building managers looking to connect with colleagues and peers in the live entertainment and sports industries.?
“The focus for us this year has been on what’s going to produce revenue for our venue managers and what’s going to ensure safety and security of patrons,” IAVM president/CEO Vicki Hawarden says, noting that attendance to this year’s VenueConnect was tracking 5% ahead of 2012 at press time. “We’ve made some thoughtful decisions about VenueConnect over the last couple of years to make it more focused on what our members need.”?
Hawarden says VenueConnect 2013, to be held July 27-30 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, will feature several first-time offerings, including a charitable restoration project in the city’s Pontchartrain Park with actor/humanitarian Wendell Pierce, who will also deliver a keynote address. But perhaps the most beneficial new initiative at this year’s event is a program called DirectConnect, which matches buyers and sellers for meetings to help build new relationships.?
“If you’re a venue manager who has business you need to conduct—typically a new build, renovation, contracts out for [proposals]—you can sign up for this program. And if you qualify, then you become part of the program and we provide complimentary registration and two nights’ hotel at no charge,” Hawarden explains. “In exchange, you sit down and do 15-minute appointments with our allied members who are participating in the program that you’ve been matched with.”
?In addition to numerous panel discussions—ranging from venue security preparedness to upcoming tours to watch—VenueConnect will host its second annual Women in Leadership Program.?
“It’s an afternoon session that’s offered as a way to continue to develop and grow that segment of our organization in venues,” Hawarden says. “Men and women attend, but certainly it’s meant to give women an opportunity to talk about their unique issues in terms of moving up into leadership positions in this industry.”?
Ticketmaster president of North America Jared Smith has attended IAVM’s annual conference and trade show for more than decade. He says it’s a great place to schedule meetings and visit with a variety of clients and customers in one setting.
?“There are so many conferences these days,” Smith says. “A lot of the ones we go to are very segment-focused—a sports business conference that caters to a team, or a sponsorship conference that caters to the sponsorship folks. IAVM continues to be the industry association that touches all those different points.”