ABC (Association of Bridal Consultants) hosts meeting to rejuvenate Las Vegas presence

ABC (Association of Bridal Consultants)Newly minted ABC California State Coordinators, John Goolsby (Godfather Films) and Mary Jo Gallegos (An Affaire of the Heart), hosted an informational lunch meeting, yesterday, at Maggiano’s Restaurant at the Fashion Show.

Close to 40 local bridal consultants and wedding professionals filled the banquet room for an overview of ABC: its member makeup, meeting format, conferences, professional education, and accreditation.

pinterestABC generously invited me to make a short presentation on Pinterest, to give attendees a sample of the type of education to be offered at future networking meetings.

The Goal: ABC has a number of Las Vegas area members and would like to launch an area networking group, meeting on a quarterly basis.

A Question: One attendee asked if there had ever been an ABC group in Las Vegas. In fact there was. When I moved to Las Vegas, in 2003, there was a local group. It faded, a couple of years later, ostensibly due to weak local leadership.

Leadership & TeamworkTiming and Local Leadership: It has been my experience and observation, generally, that the success of local groups, whether nationally, regionally or locally based, hinges on the quality and co-operation of local leadership. Some 15-20 years ago, NACE launched a chapter in Las Vegas, which did not last.

More recently, NACE made a fresh attempt, achieving longterm success. The Las Vegas chapter has entered its second decade and has maintained a membership count, in excess of 100 members, continuously, since its fourth year. The local NACE success has survived the worst of the recession, and continues to prosper. So, that this ABC effort is a rebirth, should not be viewed as a factor.

The Situation: There are a plethora of local wedding and hospitality organizations, operating in Las Vegas. More organizations than a wedding professional has time for. On the other hand, ABC has the largest membership (4500+) of any wedding-specific organization, nationally and internationally.

While Las Vegas hosts the most weddings of any city in North America, the visibility of local bridal consultants is not as pronounced as it might be.


ChallengesThe Challenge: Wedding Vendors will always flock to an organization, populated by Bridal Consultants. The difficult part is attracting a sufficient number of consultants to lead an ABC group. There is that ‘leadership’ word, again. 

Generally speaking, Las Vegas venues try to channel the choices made by bride and groom. They do this for financial reasons and client control. Venues are perfectly happy to accept business, brought to them by a wedding planner. However, local wedding planners, hired by clients, to represent the bride and groom are often seen as interlopers; unnecessary, in the greater scheme of things.

A successful ABC group in Las Vegas would enhance the credibility of local planners across the entire industry spectrum. And success, in part, would be based on the cooperation of wedding planner competitors, for the greater good of their ‘business category’ in the industry.

Regional Leadership: With the assistance of seasoned ABC State Leaders, John Goolsby and Mary Jo Gallegos, there is the support system to give Las Vegas a fighting chance for renewal. It will be interesting to see what develops over the next 6-12 months. And more interesting to measure the result in 3-5 years.

Stay tuned!

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Blog

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

Plagiarism Flap update: Affordable DJ’s makes changes

plagiarism flapUPDATE: In a report, posted last Friday, The Wedding Marketing Blog reported major plagiarism by a Las Vegas DJ service ( of another local Las Vegas DJ service (

The offending site owner, Rocco Saruby, responded to Jodi Harris, Owner and CEO of Fun, SightNSound Events by phone, indicating that he had ‘no idea how this happened,‘ instead laying off the blame on his webmaster, Linda Strasberg. 

Harris‘ original complaint to Saruby noted copied phrases and entire lifts adding up to 46% of one of the SightNSound web pages (This data was compiled by and the original AffordableDJsLasVegas website was backed up, offline, for verification). As well, there were significant copy lifts, plagiarizing the photography page.

The worst offending item was this paragraph, twisting Jodi’s title, CEO of Fun, as CEO and Master of Fun for Saruby. More critically, it hails Saruby as Las Vegas Event Professional of the Year 2010 selected by the Las Vegas Chapter of NACE (National Association of Catering Executives).

Plagiarized copy

Saruby is not, and has not been, a member of Las Vegas NACE. More annoying is the fact that it was Jodi Harris that won this award from Las Vegas NACE. She is the Membership Chair for the chapter.

Harris also informed Saruby’s hosting company, Yola, of the plagiarism.

What has changed since Friday…

Saruby removed the NACE-related paragraph almost immediately. The offending copy reduced from 46% to 39%. Continued edits occurred over the weekend. By this morning, it reduced the questionable copied phrases down to 10%. As of late this afternoon, it was down to 3%.

In a phone conversation with Jodi Harris, she lamented “the lack of solid acknowledgment and apology for the clear copying of her website content, including the reference to an award that was solely hers.” And, while it would just take a little more tweaking to have Saruby’s site be completely original, she said, “I can live with the adjustments made, to date.”

Saruby’s webmaster, Linda Strasberg (whose other career is real estate) contacted both Harris and copied Andy Ebon (The Wedding Marketing Blog) by email, stating the following.

“I have looked at your site.  I notice that you aka as sight & sound are a DJ and is a DJ…as far as you asking me the webmaster to remove words that describe the services provided by AffordableDJsLasVegas…I beg to find out what rights you have to the word dj, live dj, dj entertainment, event services, etc…. FYI:   these are categories this industry is defined by and key words used to be found in search engines…

Dear Yola…please disregard this woman’s request to shut down this site…she is incorrect….please contact me before anyone does something they will regret and is completely unsubstantiated.


Linda Strasberg”

This afternoon, she left me (Andy Ebon) a courteous phone message, telling me that ‘the Friday blog post was unsubstantiated and that I remove/retract my post, immediately.’

I note the following passage from Wikipedia on the topic of copyright.

“Plagiarism on the Internet

Content scraping is a phenomenon of copying and pasting material from Internet websites, affecting both established sites and blogs.

Free online tools are becoming available to help identify plagiarism, and there is a range of approaches that attempt to limit online copying, such as disabling right clicking and placing warning banners regarding copyrights on web pages. Instances of plagiarism that involve copyright violation may be addressed by the rightful content owners sending a DMCA removal notice to the offending site-owner, or to the ISP that is hosting the offending site.

Plagiarism is not only the mere copying of text, but also the presentation of another’s ideas as one’s own, regardless of the specific words or constructs used to express that idea. In contrast, many so-called plagiarism detection services can only detect blatant word-for-word copies of text.”

OPINION OF THE WEDDING MARKETING BLOG: It is my considered opinion that the Affordable DJs clearly plagiarized content from, as documented in this blog, with further back-up documentation of the entire site, stored, offline. It is good to see that, when prompted, Saruby took action to facilitate deletions from, and changes to, his website.

Amazingly though, the still showcases this uncredited photo (as of Monday, 6pm, PDT). It is the signature, cover photo from Peter Merry’s book, The Best Wedding Reception Ever

plagiarism flap

Wonder what Peter will have to say about that?

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Success By Association: Celebrating 20 Years of NACE Membership

National Association of Catering ExecutivesIn doing some clerical work on the Las Vegas NACE (National Association of Catering Executives) Membership Committee, I noticed the April 8, 2011 marked the 20th anniversary of my membership in NACE.

20 years seems like a significant milestone, so I’ve decided write a series of posts chronicling many significant NACE experiences. There will be quite a range of topics, including lessons learned, member benefits, professional growth, acknowledgment of many valued friends and relationships, and more.

Although this series of posts describes my tenure in NACE, much of it applies to membership and involvement in any association or networking group. The organizations may vary in what they offer, but the benefits you receive and earn depend largely on how elect to be involved.

This July (24-27), NACE will host its educational conference, NACE Experience! 2011 in Reno, NV at the Silver Legacy Hotel & Casino. Happily, I can report that I will be attending and giving two presentations. The conference is open to members and non-members (at a higher fee). For glorious details, in living color, you can download the conference brochure.

Coincidentally, NACE is running a spring membership drive, beginning April 1st. Membership drives typically offer a meaningful discount in the annual membership fee for your first year of membership. That’s always a nice incentive, but it’s not the real reason to join.

Hopefully, by the end of this series of posts, reasons for membership will be obvious. For the most part, they won’t be the reasons (benefits) you see printed in a brochure or posted on a website. They will be far more powerful.

Please enjoy this first-person description of my longstanding and ongoing membership in NACE.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority