Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE. 
Mar 30, 2023
Event professionals have lived through a roller coaster over the last three years, which has included the pivot to virtual, the return of in-person events, evolving safety precautions and tightening budgets. These professionals have delivered exemplary attendee experiences, fostering community even in uncertainty. They chased their revenue goals and embraced event data to demonstrate the business value of their hard work. But constant change can take a toll. More than a third of event planners now report anxiety and burnout. Advancements in event technology plus old-fashioned teamwork can relieve some of the burden, streamlining event organizing to help planners enjoy and focus on their important work. Balancing Responsibilities Event organizers face many tasks, from identifying the perfect concept and narrowing down venues to seeking out fitting speakers and sponsors and building event websites. If you’re like most organizers, you also guide content development and marketing for events and attend to the pressing needs arising as the event date nears. Delegating tasks to other team members — and hiring reliable vendors — can lift some of the weight off your shoulders. Set a clear purpose for your event so that decisions flow from your established goals. Encourage your team to overcommunicate and leverage event management technology that allows you to build your entire event in one place, from registration websites to sessions and post-event email communications. By syncing your whole team, you won’t have to handle every detail yourself, and you’ll have easy access to provide a steadying hand where needed. Mastering Messaging Once your team rallies to divide and conquer event planning responsibilities, you might still worry about attracting the right audience for your event and crafting the right messages to convert registrants into highly engaged attendees and prospects into customers. Creating personalized messaging can feel daunting, adding another layer of anxiety leading to an event. Robust event management technology that integrates seamlessly with your customer relationship management (CRM) platform enables easier customized messaging. You can segment attendees by persona — marketers, salespeople, C-suite executives — to target messaging specific to roles. From there, use A/B testing to see which versions of your segmented messages resonate with recipients. Creating a customized registration process can also set your team up for success. A choose-you-own-adventure registration path enables you to collect valuable insight into: Name pronunciation and pronouns; Accessibility needs; Reason for attending; Networking goals and format preferences; Topics of interest; Learning styles. These insights enable you to further segment audiences to provide relevant pre- and post-event content and even fuel on-site personalization with session tracks and networking groups. The right event technology empowers your team to constantly iterate on your messaging more quickly, easily and with better results. Capturing (and Activating) the Right Event Data The pivot to virtual events challenged the most seasoned event planners. Virtual events may have turned event planning on its head, but those events also revealed enormous data potential. From session engagement to real-time polls and attendee interaction data, virtual events offered unparalleled insights to improve event outcomes and inform future event strategy. Robust event data can make your work as an organizer easier, but only if you can access the right data easily and leverage it to reach your event goals. Outdated technology and manual processes can stand between you and the data insights you need, especially as in-person events flourish once more. Wearable technology is a game-changing advancement in event technology, offering the behavioral data insights planners gleaned from virtual events while fostering unique in-person networking opportunities. Wearable badges, wristbands and other accessories allow you to collect session check-ins, dwell time and lead capture for sponsors. Attendees can swap contact details through touchless exchange while you identify trends to improve future events. Event data is exciting, but some organizers want to dive in and measure everything immediately. Start your event data journey without increasing your stress by focusing on a few goals and three to five metrics best suited to measure your progress. For example, if your team wants to drive registrations, consider monitoring: Event site click-through rates (CTRs), page bounce rates and form fill rates; Marketing email open rates and CTRs; Social media clicks, shares and form fills. Bringing an event from conception to execution always poses a challenge, and agile event planners always rise to the occasion. Now, as they attempt to do more with less, planners need support to keep delivering outstanding results without burning out. Robust event technology eases the burden, enabling better delegation, more personalized attendee messaging and enhanced data activation without adding steps to a planner’s to-do list. Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE, listen to our latest podcast HERE and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn!