Houston, TX (February 29, 2016) – SMG, the world leader in venue management, announces the nomination of 11 employees for the annual Venues Today Generation Next Awards. The nominations celebrate the high achievement of leaders 35 or younger in the venue industry. Voting has begun and final winners will be announced in March.
The 2016 Venues Today Generation Next Award SMG nominees include:
- Bryan Crowe, 34, General Manager, Destination El Paso (El Paso, TX): For being appointed Quality of Life Managing Director for five city departments, speaking about Visit El Paso’s one-of-a-kind custom app at the eTourism Conference in San Francisco, and creating successful partnerships with the local arts agency. Bryan has worked for Destination El Paso since graduating from Michigan State University in 2004. He started his career as the Director of Operations but was quickly promoted to Assistant General Manager in 2006, until 2013 when he became General Manager of the organization. Bryan received the 2015 Arts Destination Marketing Award from Destination Marketing Association International and Americans for the Arts. Crowe helped his organization host the world’s largest participatory sporting event, the 2015 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships (135 days, 48,000 bowlers, $75 million impact), and served on the boards of the Sun Bowl and the El Paso Chamber of Commerce.
- Nick DeLuco, 31, Assistant General Manager/Director, Marketing & Events, SMG/Rogers K-Rock Center (Kingston, Ontario): For working tirelessly on a rebrand and redesign of the venue’s website. Working in partnership with Ticketmaster’s new Blue Digital division, the website was the first of its kind to seamlessly integrate information from the TM sales platform to the venue web page, creating a better experience for all site users. Additionally in 2015, Nick played a major role in the renovation of the venue’s premium club lounge, the continued growth of facility sales revenues, and the development of non-traditional events at the facility. He was also a key contributor to the facility being named Canadian Venue of the Year under 8,000 seats by members of the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry.
- Joe Giordano, 28, Director of Booking & Marketing, SMG Reading (Reading, PA): For putting together and leading the marketing team in Reading, PA for SMG, doubling the social media presence, and revamping the website. Joe has formed strong relationships with local media partners. He was also influential in booking a sold-out Daryl Hall & John Oates date this spring.
- Kelli Ireland, 30, Director of Marketing & Sales, SMG/Canalta Centre (Medicine Hat, Alberta): For blowing everyone away in her first director role by returning, after being away 12 years, to Medicine Hat, Alberta to open the brand new Canalta Centre. Her love for the city, the entertainment industry, and her drive to compete against even the largest of markets has made her a standout and captured the ear of a city not accustomed to hosting large events. Having a background working with major promoters has served her well as she’s been able to draw from a wide variety of marketing tools and strategies to build large social media networks and a strong media presence in Medicine Hat.
- Carly Johnston, 27, Director of Sales & Marketing, SMG/Pensacola Bay Center (Pensacola, FL): For creating the venue’s 30-year anniversary ad, which won her the 2015 Best Trade Ad – Venue Produced at the annual SMG Marketing Summit. Carly took an in-house promoted, first-year event, making it so successful that participants wanted the event to happen twice a year instead of just once. Sponsors lined up the week after the event for the following year’s event. Carly relied on simply using “grassroots” promotions. She is a go-getter and determined to produce excellent service and projects. Carly has worked for the Pensacola Bay Center for two and a half years. She was recently promoted from Senior Manager of Sales and Marketing to Director of Sales and Marketing for Pensacola Bay Center.
- Sean Keliiholokai, 31, Director of Sales & Marketing, Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau (Ontario, CA): For exceeding the previous fiscal year’s actual room night booking goal by 25% in 2013-14, and in 2014-15, exceeding that goal by 11%, generating the highest room night production ever for the bureau. Sean then secured Jehovah’s Witnesses conventions in a five-year contract representing more than 20,000 room nights. He has helped build and maintain seven websites and social media sites to promote the destination and signature events at three unique and diverse venues. The Ontario Convention Center reports a 9% gain YOY in 2014 and 17% gain YOY in the number of meetings booked with a 4% gain in 2014 and 34% gain in 2015 of attendees under his direction of the sales team.
- Jackie Naparlo, 33, Director of Booking & Marketing, SMG Richmond (Richmond, VA): For restructuring the booking process, which led to a dramatic increase in commercial concerts, show diversity and, most importantly, quality of performances. Jackie has significant experience in the industry working for Live Nation, Redlight Management and William Morris Endeavor. She joined SMG Richmond as a booking manager for four venues: Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, Richmond Coliseum, Altria Theater and Carpenter Theatre in November 2013. During her first year with SMG Richmond she increased the total number of commercial concerts and comedy performances by 27%. This year, Jackie was promoted to Director of Booking and Narketing, overseeing those same four venues and, additionally, Gottwald Playhouse, Rhythm Hall and RVA on Ice, a seasonal ice rink in Downtown Richmond. She reorganized the marketing department adding revenue generating streams, negotiating non-existent media rates, creating an internship program, street team program, and photography program.
- Kelly Ortiz, 31, Assistant General Manager, Food & Beverage, SMG/BOK Center (Tulsa, OK): For helping create annual revenue across both buildings in excess of $9.7 million. Over the past 12 months, BOK Center alone has seen an F&B increase of 46 because of Kelly’s efforts. Another area of focus that has grown exponentially over the past year because of her hard work is the off-premise catering business, which saw an increase of 374%. Kelly is an outstanding leader and is not a person that is satisfied with the status quo. She strives to make improvements every chance she gets in order to make the F&B experience something special for guests, clients, artists and employees. Most recently, she traveled to Texas to assist and implement best practices for backstage catering for Aerosmith. Kelly is an active member of IAVM for both the International Convention Center Conference (ICCC) and the Young Professionals Group.
- Megan Pedigo, 28, Senior Marketing Manager, SMG/Peoria Civic Center (Peoria, IL): For overseeing all marketing for the arena, theater and convention center and growing the Peoria Civic Center’s social media network by 24%. Megan and her team helped bring over 500,000 people to the venue in 2015. Working with SMG staff and community leaders, Megan has been instrumental in establishing two large-scale, successful events that are focused on bringing people to the Peoria Civic Center and to Downtown Peoria, while utilizing the facility during traditionally slow times. Ignite Peoria, a gathering of over 100 local artists of all mediums for a one-day creative celebration that is free to the public, increased attendance in its second year to over 7,000 people. Also, the inaugural PNC Winterfest ice rink had almost 12,000 attendees. PNC Winterfest’s success was largely driven by the marketing strategy that utilized social media and traditional media coverage to garner over two million impressions.
- Stephen Poremba, 33, Director of Marketing, SMG/Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza (Wilkes-Barre, PA): For developing added-value promotions for tour promoters by utilizing venue premium seating assets to secure third party and social media promotions including a Wrestlemania Pick’em challenge that highlighted a major Pay-Per-View for WWE and brought awareness to the on-sale date for a SMACKDOWN televised event at Mohegan Sun Arena. He secured the renewal of the venue’s box office naming rights partner and has been instrumental in developing new campaigns for increasing sponsorship and premium seating revenues for the venue. In working with the General Manager, even as the Director of Marketing, Stephen helps attract events including the return of a statewide wrestling event that will have a huge economic impact on the community.
- Allie Thomas, 25, Event Services Coordinator, SMG/Cox Business Center (Tulsa, OK): For her work coordinating the 2015 Painted Pony Gala, which is one of the largest events in the facility and also the largest fundraiser of the year for the client, Saint Francis. This event hosted more than 1,000 guests and is completely different each time the venue hosts it. This year’s event featured a cocktail reception, plated meal, bars and live entertainment with a setup requiring three move-in days. Allie worked with the client, numerous vendors including A/V, décor companies and a third-party planner to flawlessly execute the success of the event from the building’s perspective. She took the initiative to partner in starting a wellness committee for SMG Tulsa staff and organized a “Bike Ride Across Oklahoma” on stationary bikes to help spread awareness for mental health and World Suicide Prevention Day and promote the mission of one of our clients, Oklahoma Suicide Prevention Association. Allie was also named 2015 Employee of the Year for SMG Tulsa.