16

CAPITAL
Marc \'{feiswasser
What's In a Title?
ENTERTAINMENT
DEPARTMENT
Encenainment in some
shape or form has probably
been a part of our culture
ever since man has been
around. llrom the caveman
days humans have had
needs be)'ond mere food
and shelter, and I'm sure
that cnccnainment must
have played a role for a sane survival. Some say
chat music is the universal language. but I
believe that it is entertainment and laughter.
In roday's horrible economy rhe discrcrionary
income that may have been set aside for
entertainment purposes is now going towards
higher priorities. But if possible, getting out
every once in a while to view a play, band, or
some comedy might just be what the sanity
doctor ordered.
The entertainment selections in Las Vegas
are legendary, however the behind the sccncs
rolc an exccutivc plays (0 bring them hcre is
not. For this edition of G&L I would like (0
compare a Corporate position CO that of a
Property posicion, in thc Encertainmem
dcpartmenc. To help cnlighten us from
thc Corporate side I went to Judy Alberti,
who works for Station Casinos, the Las Vegas
local's leader.
Judy began her entertainment career with
Station Casinos in Las Vegas in 1994 and
served as their Vice President of
En(ertainment until 2006. She then accepted
the position of CEO of the 5,000-seat Dodge
Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. In January of
2008 she becotme the Vice President of
Entertainment for Foxwoods Resort Casino
tlnd the .MGM Grotnd at Foxwoocls in
Conncccicut. In June of2008Judy returned to
Station Casinos to serve in her previous capac-
ityas Vice President of Entertainment.
Chris Baldizan
Vice President of Entertainment
for Mandalay Day
Judy Alberti
Vice President of Entertainment
for Station Casinos
G&L 5 P R I N GIS U M MER 2009
Par the Property posicion I approoched Chris
Daldizan, Vice President of Entertainment for
Mandalay Bay. Chris joined the company in 1993
as Events Manager for the MGM Grand Garden
Arena and thell moved into the role of Vice
President of Entertainment and Booking for
MGM Enrertrunmem and Spores. He
began his career in the industry as Event
Coordinator at the Thomas & Mack Cemer while
attending UNLV, where he earned his Bachelor of
Science degree in Hotel Administfl.ltion.
G&L: How many different venues do you
book entertainment for?
JA: My team and I book entertainment for 24
venues throughout the 10 Station Casinos prop-
erties. The venues range in size from small
lounges of 50-seat Glpacicy, to approximately
500-scat showrooms at some properties includ-
ing TIle Railhead at Bouldcr Station, Chrome
Showroom at Santa Fe Station, Ovation at Green
Valley Ranch Resort, Access Showroom at
Aliame Station, and Club Madrid at Sunset
Station. \Vfe have two indoor venues with 2,000·
seat capacities which arc the D.ll1as Evcnts Center
at Texas Station, and the Grand Events Center at
Green Valley Ranch. \Vle also have four outdoor
4,OOO-capacity venues chat are the Sunset
Amphitheatre at Sunset Station, The Backyard at
Green V'll1ey Ranch, ;tnd the S<.1I1dl:m at Red
Rock Casino, which also has a 7,OOO-SCilt
Amphitheatre.
CD: At Mandalay Bay I am responsible for
booking the Events Center Arena, which has
12,000 capacity, Mandalay Day Ileach, with a
3,500 capacity. It..fandalay Bay Theatre, home of
the Lion King, and other events for dark days
and the propcrcy lounges which arc )-POP
lounge and E}'ecandy sound lounge & bar.
G&L: Tell us about your direct reports and their
ddes •• lOd how many total employees rOll have.
JA: Corporate Production Director, Kevin
Scroggins. All Prodllccion personnel report up
to him, and then he repores up to me. \Y/e have
4 Entertainment Managers, who divide rhe
properties up by responsibility which is
approximately 2 propercics each. Monica
Reeves, .Mandy Christine, Sharon BOllcher,
and Zurita. All cogether I have 53 peo-
ple under me.
CB: I have cwo Directors chac report to me, a
Director of DusincsslFinance and a Dircccor of
Opcrntions. In addition, we have an Event
Manager responsible for Guest Services and
Talent as well as an Event Manager responsible
for Operations and change over. \Vle have a
Production Manager for the Evenes Center who
is also responsible for booking the lounges and
a Production Manager for the Theatre who is
our liaison with The Lion King team. We have
<l Manager responsible for cOntr-actS and auto
cad drawings as well. There are four Supervisors
thilt report to the Director of Oper-.lCions each
with technical responsibilities. There is a
Supervisor for Sound, a Supervisor responsible
for Lights, It Supervisor for Production, and a
Supervisor of Inventory and Equipment. There
arc also two full time Change Over Supervisors.
Our Box Office Staff has a <liren report to our
Chief Fin.lncial Officer, bur is also a group I
interact with on a daily basis.
G&L: How do you go about getdng your
Lounge acts and Headliners?
]A: Headliners arc generally booked through
the major agencies such as \'V'illiam Morris
Agency, Creative Artists Agency, Paradigm,
etc. Lounge acrs can be booked in a VariN}' of
ways. Typically if we find an act we like by
viewing promorional materials, we will go out
to see rhe group live and rhen possibly book
them. Some of our lounge acts we have
brought in from other markecs, such as Seeel
Panther from los Angeles, and Zowie Bowie
and Envy, both from Phoenix. \Vle JUSt intro-
WHAT' S IN A TITLE? ENTERTAI NMENT DEPARTMENT

I{ECOV['I{Y
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duced a new .lct from St. Louis by the name of
Dr. Zhivegas. \Vle bring the bcsr tribute aces
from around the country to perform on
Saturday nights at Santa Fe Station. \Vle have
acts sllch as Yellow Brick Road that performs
at rhree of our properties, and we have been
booking them for more than a decade and they
are still doing great business. \Vle also feature
Banda Tierra Sagmda at Fiesta Rancho on
Saturdays, and Boulder Station on Sundays.
These arc L'ltin nights that have been highly
successful for many years. \Vle are also 4-
walling our 2S0-seat venue at P'llace St;ltion
to Donkcrz Comedy Club, i\nd since opening
in January the response has been very good.
eB: \Vlith regard to the lounge acts, we receive
quite a bit of promotional material from
agents, both locally nnd nationally. There are
n1i\ny talented lounge acrs. The key for us is co
have a nice varie,)' while also trying co have
the right kind of music that appeals to the
demographics of Mandalay Bay, We usually
try to see the act perform before we book
them. The budgets we have for each lounge
are a big part of the decision process, and we
consrantly track the revenue in the lounges.
Headliners arc a completely different world.
For the most part we try co be proactive and
keep track of which aCts are going on cour. If
.\0 act is on tOUt it is usually much more real-
istic and economiolliy feasible [0 make a d.tte
happen. Ie also allows us to plan ahead and
build other types of events the propercy has to
offer. There <lee of course exceptions. If we have
a specific dare where we arc targeting encer-
(ainment, we will pursue an ace even if the ace
is not on tour. If we can make the numbers
work and the act is willing to parcicipare, we
will 1110V(' forward with whae the industry
calls "one-offs". \'<Ie rely very heavily on our
partners that purchase tours and promotC
shows. Entities such as AEG and Live Nation.
\Vle are constantly communicating with agents
that put these tours together.
G&L: \'<Ihar have been some of your favorite
<lcts over the yeilrs?
]A: Toby Keith, Waylon Jennings, Merle
Haggard, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Hare)'
Connick, Jr., Phil Vassar, Aaron Lewis, Dave
Koz, Styx, Night Ranger and Shaw-Dlades, to
Harne JUSt a few. \Vle book approximately 150
headliners each year, so there are too many to
name. Dut it has been great to see some of the
aces who have started in our smaller rooms
explode into arena acts, such as Toby Keith,
Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts,
and Bmd P"isley,
CD: Personally, I'm a big fan of music. I don't
really have a f,\Vorite genre, rather I like enter-
tainers chat have fun with our guests and seem
to genuinely enjoy themselves. ] try to foctls
on whae they do on stage. At the end of the
day [hat is what people, including myself, are
paying to sec. Acts like The Black Eyed Peas,
The guys 011 the toj) tend to stay 011 toj), JJltlking it harder for the new
acts to jJttsh through, ctJulmakillg it more challenging for ItS to find
viable acts for ottr smaller venue. - Chris Baldizall
SUBSCRIBE FREE AT WWW.GAMINGANDLEISUREMAGA1INE.COM AND YOU COULD WIN $5001 SEE WEBSITE FOR DETAILS. 17
18
CAPITAL
Don Jovi and rhe Rascal Flatrs come to mind.
They all seem co enjoy seeing people smile,
have fun and be entertained. It feels more like
a parey as opposed to a show.
G&L: \Vhat are some of the biggest chal -
lenges you see in your department?
JA: Communication is always key, parcicular-
Iy with each of the (en properties and che
Advercising departments. I think we arc going
to continue to see a fragmentation of media
viewing, so it continues to get morc challeng-
ing co find the right outlCtS [Q communicate
to the greatest porrion of an acr's demograph-
ic in order to sell tickets.
CB: From a global perspective, first and fore-
most is (he economy. Although, even before
the world, country and Las Vegas felt the
crunch we arc fecling now, economics has
alwa)'s been a challenge for Entertainment.
\Vle are arguably the most competitive enter-
tainment market in the country. There are
seveml oucsc;lnding venues Itnd many ouc-
standing individuals responsible for filling
these venues. In the Cllfrell[ econom}', now
more than ever, we are being exrremeiy careful
about making sure at the end of the day our
guests can afford to purchase tickets.
G&L: Has the slowdown in the economy
noticeably affeCted your department?
jA: Certainly ticket sales were off for the lat-
ter porrion of 2008, bue we have seen sates
increase since january, so I am hopeful that we
are at the beginning of the ClIrve in the eco-
nomic recovery.
CB: Not as much as one would think. Anisrs
are still going am and working. Cercainly we
are managing our expenses hopefully better
than we ever have, and at the same time max-
imizing our revenues where we can. For the
first quarter we have seen rhe impact as there
were not many shows touring. From April on,
for us, it seems like we are as busy as ever. The
proof will be in the pudding when it comes to
guests purchasing tickets. From our point of
view, we will still focus on offering the high-
est quality of affordable encercainment while
remaining committed to the highest customer
service levels.
G&L: \"'here do you see the future of
Entertainment going?
jA: It doesn't appear that artists/record labels
are building the longcvit}, of careers that were
t}'pical of the classic rock em, or maybe it is
just that society moves so much faster now we
Me more interested in the next shiny object
that grabs our attention. Regardless, it cer-
tainly makes it a bit more challenging to book
newer anises who fall off rhe cluues for a while,
because they don't seem to hold their ticket
selling capability in comparison to a classic
G&L s P R I N GIS U M MER 2 0 0 9
rock artist who may not have charted for two
decades. In ;'lddition, I think there rend to be
more classic rock formatted ntdio stations thac
would keep the frequency of rhe spins of clas-
sic rock anists in high rotation vs. a 90's rock
act that gets very few spi ns on their catalogue.
New country is also a challenge. \'(Ihen we
were booking up and coming coulltr}' acts
during the explosion of the mid co late 90's,
there were man}' more acts who meant SOO-
1 ,000 t ickets. Now it is much harder to devel-
op new acts based on the economy and the fan
chat there are fewer artists in rotation now,
with mdio s(;ltions playing the top 40 songs at
greater frequency. Therefore, rhe guys on top
tend to stay on top, making it harder for the
newet acts to push rhcough, and making it
more challenging for us to find viable acts for
our smaller venues.
CB: Encertainment, in my opinion, like every
other sector of business and life concinues to
evolve. It is <Iifficult to predict the future seg-
ment of people's lives, as that is always chang-
ing and is subject to so many outside influ-
ences. I think the one constant is till\( people
love to be entertained and to have a brief
escape from the grind of everyday life. If we
can't m:lximizc the moment we have them in
that zone, we will ultimately fail. There are far
tOO many choices for people when it comes to
encercJinment. Music and specifically the live
music segment is just one of many options for
people to consider. Technology is anOther huge
aspen of Entertainment that is continuing to
evolve. Fans and anists alike are demanding
much more from venues and other platforms
by which they can obtain encercainment.
Make no mismke, there ate many challcnges
we face in the Entertainment industry, but at
the end of the day, it is a product that is truly
defined by and controlled by the end user, che
people. That is a good thing.
This has been just a (;.15te in the day of che
life of a Casino Enrercainment executive, but
whether you go out for the music or the com-
edy, do go our! I'd like to thank Judy and
Chris for their time and excellent insights, and
would like to hear from you with any com-
l11ell(S or questions.
Mtlre W'eisll'llSser is Sel/ior Vice President of
C"sil/oUecruiler.colII, an Execulive
fjrm for/be gamjng & bospilali-
/y inr/IIS/I)" He can be ,·etlcbed al 702-798-
DIBO, or
1 i)lI'W. C tiS i JJORCCfU i I com,

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