From seeing all the fun and incredible people and companies around the greater Los Angeles area, you’d think we would get a slower, less hectic day to recuperate. But the Veley’s don’t roll like that and so we continued to press forward. And so we departed from the Marriot and headed to El Segundo to visit Luc Robataille, President of Team Operations, of the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL. Mr. Robataille came to the NHL from Canada in 1985 and that started a 19-year career with teams including the LA Kings, NY Rangers, and Detroit Red Wings. The LA Kings are responsible for starting the Staples Center; however haven’t been living up to expectations and so fan support has been an issue. Mr. Robataille preached about fan passion, which was lacking. He explained how the fans felt no passion from AEG towards the Kings. He was hired to make sure revenue continues to increase past base number. He advocated branding everything and is a big believer in community service, being responsible for 850 community appearances a year. Furthermore, he talked about maintaining that brand image and marketing strategies during the offseason, which included a draft party in June. The most important marketing strategy he told us about was different ethnic heritage nights because 30% of Kings fans are Hispanic. Three tips he gave us were you have to be passionate, be knowledgeable, and be a great salesman. Finally, he said that attention to details builds a great organization, and that the Kings based themselves of pride, passion, and power.
After the meeting we headed out towards the AEG facilities at LA Live, directly across from the Staples Center. We had lunch at Yardbarn which included a sit down with multiple AEG executives along with a few Human Resources people. We were able to talk to influential hiring officials and get up close and personal conversations before going to the “meeting.” Before this took place we got an amazing tour from Scott Hanely, VP and Event Booking. He showed up the Nokia Theater, home of every award show except for the Oscars. Also, he showed us VIP lounges, which normally go for $25,000 a night.
When we arrived at the meeting, Michael Patent, former SU alum, spoke to us about how AEG uses buildings to build revenue and global marketing. He introduced us to the idea that you need to sell to a variety of consumers, including promoters and the casual fan.
After Michael’s introduction, we met Charles Hirschhorn, President of AXS TV. It is the overtake of HD net, a network of Mark Cuban, in which Cuban, CAA (Creative Artists Agency), Ryan Seacrest, and AEG combined to form this new network. The point is to distribute access across a multitude of networks. The platform was for live entertainment and music for fans and viewers. HD net had 28 million viewers in US and Canada and will extend to 36 million after the change to AXS TV. The 3 challenges he expressed to us were growth distribution, generating advertisement revenue, and programming.
Next to speak with us was Russell Silvers, Vice President, who was in charge of Partnership Activation. He oversees all partnership activation and was hired to market the Home Depot Center with its four complexes. He went from working in the sponsorship division for 2 years and then went up to corporate sales and services. The team he manages sells sponsorship packages to put everything in perspective. He goes on to explain that AEG won’t renew a deal if not a good return on the investment and also the less is more approach that AEG lives by.
The next character, and I mean character literally, was David Emmanuel. David Emmanuel was loud, articulate, inspiring, educational, enthusiastic, charismatic, passionate, and motivated. He is the VP of Human Resources and has been at AEG for 8 months. This man told it to us straight, didn’t beat around the bush, and told us exactly what we needed to know. He stressed time and again about selling you, fitting in, being prepared, what are we willing to do to make it, to fight, claw, be creative, and find a niche. Furthermore, he said to use that it is what you can show, and that resumes can show that. To elaborate, it’s basically; the best way to show what you can do is what you have done. He told us to find the right people to associate with, travel a lot, be confident, know your story, and be flexible. A very important thing he stressed with us was that there is one definite advantage we hold over him and that is technology (social media). The last thing that I took to heart and very seriously was when he said to be the easiest to find on LinkedIn, but be the hardest to find on twitter and Facebook. Mr. Emmanuel did not speak a sentence that didn’t carry extreme importance and relevance and it was a great treat to listen to him.
Mr. Emmanuel was replaced by the last speaker of the day, Eric Bresler, AEG facilities VP of Event Booking and Development. He is in involved in AEG’s 100 plus facilities worldwide spanning over 5 continents. He made his way up from interning with the University of Arizona basketball radio announcer to bringing people into Las Vegas for the LA Kings vs. NY Rangers game a bunch of years ago. He spent 2 years with the Miami Dolphins, 1 year with the Florida Panthers, and then with the Charlotte Coliseum, St. Pete Times Forum, and the Nassau Coliseum. He went back to Miami to work for the Heat new stadium, American Airlines Arena, and then finally landed at AEG. His job is to help maximize revenues for the stadiums. He explained how each facility needs to hold non-game night events to continue bringing in money. Next, we were privileged to look at 3 different things he put up on the screen. The first was a stadium calendar for next year, which showcased booked days, days reserved for games even thought they might not happen, and days that are open. The point was so he can see when to not book events and when the possibilities were in case. The next thing was saw was an offer sheet given from AEG facilities to Sugarland for a concert at a stadium in Memphis. It outlines the prices per ticket along with the rest of the contract. Finally, we saw an NBA playoff schedule for this year. Mr. Bresler used this to see when he can book days based on off days and also when there are possible games. All 3 of these things are what Mr. Bresler uses to book events and handle all situations. He further explained everything from reaching budget and not losing money, the percentage split between the arena and artist, and the experience the fans must have to be justifiable for the event. Finally, as last tips we got from Mr. Bresler were to constantly take notes, avoid Facebook, learn how to talk, take an informational interview, meet the assistant, log your calls, and finally that opportunity is crucial to capitalizing.
After we left the AEG Global Marketing offices, the group headed to the Grammy Museum to look around and then some of us went to the Lucky Strike bowling alley and ended up watching the end of the Lakers game on TV.
Finally, we attended the Clippers game. To be perfectly honest, the game was not as exciting as I hoped because of a shortened crowd and the Clippers leading the whole game. However, the experience was still great and everyone enjoyed his or herself.
All in all, the day that we experienced was priceless as we all made insurmountable connections that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars obtain. The fact that these people have way better things to be doing, yet they took the time to meet with us is a privilege, honor, and gives me a great admiration for them. These executives realize we are the future, and the 16 of us were willing spring break and go on this adventure, making their time worthwhile.