Las Vegas NACE Ushers In Second Decade

NACEPast Las Vegas NACE chapter presidents, Cheryl Sgovio, CPCE (Thomas and Mack Center) and Frank Gregory (Aria Las Vegas), opened the festivities for annual Las Vegas NACE Gala and Awards Event, by thanking the outgoing Board of Directors and swearing in the 2012 Board. Cheryl and Frank surveyed the evening’s attendees number close to 170, and Frank commented.

“It’s hard to believe that ten years ago we had our first dinner with 38 attendees at the Riviera. Isn’t it incredible to see how far we’ve come in ten years?”

Las Vegas NACE  is in its second incarnation. The first attempt was ahead of its time and did not survive. The current edition, though, is here to stay. A significant part of the effort to relaunch the Las Vegas Chapter of NACE was spearheaded by Patti Shock CPCE (UNLV). In 2010, the Las Vegas Chapter awarded Patti a Lifetime Achievement Award and honored her with Emeritus status for her CPCE designation.

Several years before I moved to Las Vegas, and prior to the chapter being chartered, I met Cheryl Sgovio, CPCE and Michele Polci, CPCE (Caesar’s Entertainment) at a NACE National Conference in Miami. Both would go on to serve as chapter presidents. Cheryl and I served concurrently on the NACE National Board. Both Cheryl and Michele earned the distinction of NACE National Caterer of the Year. In 2006, Jodi Harris (Sight’n’Sound Event) won national honors as Event Professional of the Year.

In a scant ten years, the Las Vegas NACE has earned recognition as NACE Chapter of the Year, twice. It has been acknowledged in multiple categories for chapter achievement, in multiple years.

Individual members such as Carrie Key (DragonRidge Country Club), Annie Payton CPCE (Annie’s Gourmet Italian), and Michele Polci CPCE (Caesar’s Entertainment) have won awards for event excellence. Annie won multiple awards in a single year, and Michele is a near-perennial winner, having accumulated a armload of awards.

Since 2006, three Las Vegas members have received the George Zell Spirit of NACE Award, the national organization’s highest award for overall involvement to NACE and the catering community. Those recipients are: Andy Ebon (The Wedding Marketing Authority), Lisa Lynn Backus CPCE (Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas) and Michele Polci CPCE (Caesar’s Entertainment).

CPCE Designations Number: Lucky 13

The Certified Professional Catering Executive designation represents a level of professionalism achieved by a limited number of people throughout NACE. By placing great value on the designation, and its value to those that hold it, Las Vegas NACE added two new designees last night, bringing its CPCE-holders to 13 (all profiled in a 2-page spread the awards program).

Those designees are:

  • cpce-logoLisa Lynn Backus CPCE
  • Kathy Baldieri CPCE
  • Lynn Clark-Javanmard CPCE, CMP
  • Donnell Bayot M. Ed, CHE, CPCE
  • Amy Dyke CPCE, CMP
  • Annie Kang-Drachen CPCE
  • Shauna Lederman CPCE
  • Gary McCreary CPCE, CMP, CSEP
  • Michele Polci CPCE, CMP
  • Cheryl Sgovio, CPCE
  • Patti Shock CPCE
  • Michael Testagrossa CHE, CPCE
  • Wendy Weisgerber CPCE

Behind the Scenes Involvement

Some involvement is invisible to the average member; however, countless chapter members have served on NACE National Committees and assisted in hosting events associated with Las Vegas – based conferences, such as CaterSource.

A Personal Comment On Leadership and Organization Prosperity

Whether a chapter of national organization, such as NACE, or a one-0f-kind local organization, success starts at the top. Las Vegas NACE surged with a great start, and rode its local prosperity to great heights. While the challenges of the Las Vegas economy put great pressure on Las Vegas NACE, the chapter has survived the most difficult days, and appears poised for new successes.

A key reason for a bright outlook is the continued involvement of past chapter presidents. This is a rarity in most organizations and to Las Vegas NACE, a tremendous benefit. More than just attending an occasional meeting, one finds past presidents involved in specific projects, tasks, supporting future leaders, and even holding spots on the current Board of Directors. With that kind of complementary leadership involvement, Las Vegas NACE maintains its institutional memory, enjoys ongoing success, and promises to do so into the foreseeable future.

Wendy Weisgerber, CPCE (Rio Las Vegas) has the honor and privilege of leading Las Vegas NACE in the second year of her 2-year term as chapter president.

Acknowledging the Las Vegas NACE Past Chapter Presidents:

  • Las Vegas NACERich Beninger
  • Cheryl Sgovio, CPCE
  • Frank Gregory
  • Amy Dyke CPCE
  • Michele Polci, CPCE
  • Kathy Baldieri, CPCE

With every best wish for continued success,

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog
NACE Member since 1991

Is your glass half empty or half full?

Glass half full
Half full or half empty?

It is incredibly challenging to keep a positive outlook on your business and the wedding industry when one is bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of lousy news, information and statistics.

When one is struggling, it’s normal to look outward for signs of prosperity on the horizon. For the small business, world and national events are more of distraction than anything else. The smaller business is too far down the food chain to measure the effect of good or bad news.

Even so, as a Las Vegas resident, I couldn’t help but wonder, out loud, as to how the Tiger Woods fiasco might affect tourism, with all the sleazy news about ‘night club hosts’ providing ‘hook-ups’ for big spenders. Tiger has single-handedly made mince meat of the slogan: “What happens here, stays here.”

Foreclosures in Las Vegas have slowed, slightly, but the big damage is already done, and it will likely take years for the situation to move in a positive direction. From my view, foreclosures are an indicator. They are a tangible measurement of job losses and an exodus of residents from Las Vegas, and Nevada, generally. The state population has been decreasing since early 2008. The population shrinkage is completely counter to the rapid increase of the last couple of decades.

So where is the half full part?

Last week I went to a Las Vegas NACE meeting, and chatted with my friend, Frank Gregory, CPCE. Frank had worked as a Senior Catering Manager, almost exclusively for Bally’s for the better part of two decades, before being unceremoniously squeezed out, last fall, in a reorganization of its catering department, citywide.

It took him months to catch on with a different hotel, Excalibur. OK, for the moment.

Aria Resort & Casino
Aria Resort & Casino

Last Tuesday, Frank had a huge smile on his face, because he had been hired by the new Aria Resort & Casino, part of the MGM/Mirage City Center, which opens this week. City Center is a massive project, with a half-dozen hotels, a monster retail mall, restaurants, clubs, and beautiful art.

As I’ve absorbed the steady stream of news and information about City Center, I’ve finally begun to understand it. It’s a cohesive, well-designed urban center, within the Las Vegas strip. It’s a walkable, beautiful setting, decidedly different than the rest of the city.

The big question is: “Will City Center bring new business to Las Vegas or just cannibalize business from other parts of town?”

I am now ‘off the fence,‘ and am decidedly upbeat about the prospects of success for City Center, and in turn, its positive effects on increasing travel to Las Vegas.

I admit that I’m am influenced by the enthusiasm of Frank Gregory and his new job in the crown jewel of City Center, Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas.

Frank has become one of my symbols of good news, heading into the New Year. I’m sure there is plenty of bad news where you are. But if you, look around, you can find specific examples of great news.

Find your reasons for optimism, and let them buoy your outlook.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority

Don’t violate the ‘no surprise’ rule

grizzly-bear.jpgLast week, when I presented, “Marketing and Selling to the 21st Century Bride” to Las Vegas NACE, i emphasized the importance of relationships and communications as key factors in surviving and prospering during current economic downturns.

During the Q & A period we transgressed into the area of ‘vendor meals’ and other side issues.

Rather than rehash the discussion, there was one strikingly clear comment made to me, after the meeting, by Frank Gregory, CPCE. He said, Andy, “It’s not that a Catering Manager objects to providing meals for the appropriate vendors (as agreed to by the client). It’s that we when we are about to open a room to 250 guests, we don’t want to be surprised.

What the catering contact needs is communication, early in the week, to make certain that the client has included you in the head count, and listed you for seating. Then we can confirm it, and it’s a very minor item.”

The bottom line is: No Surprises

If you like be referred by venues, it’s important to make their life easy. You can do that by communicating clearly, and several days in advance.

Or, face their wrath!!