After a successful 2016, we kicked of this year in Rivera Maya, Mexico at Castaway with Southern Ground. It’s nice to soak up some sun and talk about business plans for the year ahead. This year though we gained more from that trip than we have from a number of professional conferences we have attended.
While we certainly did our share of relaxing, we also learned about lighting, staging, marketing, production, customer service, live music production, recording, DJ work, catering, photography, logistics and a whole lot more.
You see this was no ordinary sun & sand get away. We had the opportunity to learn from a number of very talented people in entertainment and event production including the Grammy Award winning group the Zac Brown Band. Along with Zac was Jamaica reggae group Toots & The Maytals who invented the word “reggae” and genre in 1968. Best New Artist Grammy nominee Maren Morris, Margo Price who recorded her first album at Sun Studios, JJ Grey & Mofro, Drake White & The Big Fire that are launching their first headlining tour, Rodrigo and Gabriela, Muddy Magnolias, Corey Harper, Brian Collins and all the incredible musicians in the groups were there. We spent time with Zac Brown’s personal Chef Rusty Hamiln learning about food and drinks with people from all over.
The event took place at the Hard Rock Hotel. Normally I would have avoided such a place as I would have thought it was too touristy. Boy was I wrong. From the moment we arrived we were greeted and offered a drink. Quickly we were given our credentials and escorted to our room. From that moment on every need we could possible have was catered to. 24 room service, buffets set up for each concert, tray served drinks everywhere, even for the live shows and the most incredible staff I’ve ever encountered.
The main stage could have hosted just about any band in the world. Lighting, sound, and video projection were top notch and with variety of styles of music and the needs of each artist, it is a challenge to say the least.
The event staff for this production was amazing. Despite long hours everything from charity auctions to safety and security was taken care of flawlessly. Event professionals understand what it takes to meet everyone’s expectations for just one event. This was 12 plus events in just a few days!
When food were ordered was just a few minutes late, we received an apology from the food and beverage manager that was not needed or expected. The ultimate in customer service.
Normally I can walk away from an event having seen even minor flaws. Maybe something that did not quite go as planned, or something I would have done differently. I’m hard pressed to come up with one thing to list. It was that good.
There were multiple teams that made it happen. Staff from the Hard Rock to the production staff and that makes it all the more challenging when you are dealing different groups with language and cultural barriers. My hat is off to the production teams on this one.
We came back to Pittsburgh recharged and with some great new inspiration for events ahead. All too often we find ourselves locked in our own little bubbles and blind to the world around us. It’s easy to do. This trip has changed that at least for awhile.