Lessons From An Event Coordinator

by Erica Krystek, Event Coordinator

While there are an abundance of lessons I’ve learned while employed at the Bayfront Convention Center, I’ve found that there are five that stand out in the event coordination world. While these traits are necessary in the work environment, they are also simply great life skills to have. Let’s take a look!

  1. Communication skills. This is essential! Communication is one of the most vital parts of being a successful event coordinator. One of the most effective ways of communication has proven to be picking up the phone and calling the clients directly, instead of text or email. Not only does a phone call add a personal touch, it also gives the customer a sense of ease when they speak to a person instead of a recording. Pay attention to what is being said and (sometimes more importantly) what is not said. Listening and evaluating your client’s needs throughout your planning process will help you stay one step ahead.
  2. Organization. In event planning, success is in the details… and there are so many! Multi-tasking is required for both smooth planning and a flawless execution of any event. Working in events requires the ability to focus on the big picture while keeping track of all the little details. Being highly organized is a must in event development.
  3. Passion. Timg_0010hey say, “It’s not work when you love what you do.” With all the pressure of the job, you have to really embrace every aspect of what you do. Passion helps you overcome bumps in the road and stay composed when things become trying. Things like time management and the proper use of industry jargon can be taught, but you can’t teach passion, and you’ll need it in order to develop true customer relationships and succeed in this business.
  4. Composure. All teams will look to you for answers to just about everything. In moments of stress, the last thing they need is a shaky leader who makes poor decisions (or none at all) because they’re cracking under the pressure. Successful event coordinators stay level-headed and continue to treat everyone with respect, no matter what. Cleaning up messes and putting out fires — quickly, quietly, and efficiently — is part of the job. Stay calm, get it done, and then get back to running the show.
  5. Decisiveness. Event coordinators need to be comfortable in their role and have the ability to make several executive decisions at once, and to make them quickly. More importantly, they need to be able to recognize when it’s too late to change those decisions. When clients are travelling from their home base to the Convention Center, they may not have time to answer their phone or an email about a last-minute question. It is our role to ensure that the requests and expectations have been communicated, and to take responsibility for necessary adjustments.
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Reflecting on 35 years at Erie Events

by Patti Wigham, Administrative Assistant

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Patti waiting for the Hogwarts train! Patti is a big Harry Potter fan.

After working at the Erie Insurance Arena for 35 years, it’s time for me to retire and I would like to take this opportunity to say goodbye and thank you to all the wonderful patrons that I have talked to and assisted on the phones during this time.  It has been a real pleasure for me as the vast majority of these patrons have been courteous; appreciative of the help they’re given and just utterly delightful.

What started out as working a few hours a day for a few days a week as a phone clerk quickly turned into a full time job working forty hours per week as an administrative assistant/receptionist.  I love my job for a number of reasons and I have a lot of fond memories from years gone by.  It’s never the same day twice working at the Erie Insurance Arena and that’s what makes it enjoyable.  My immediate supervisors were flexible when I needed flexibility and the work environment was always pleasant.

I wonder how many people remember what it was like way back when the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus came to town.  The circus animals, including the elephants, would arrive by train.  A procession from the train station to the arena would follow.  People would line up along the parade route to catch a glimpse of these circus animals and the mood was always festive.   Long ago, the circus animals were housed in the “old Sears building” between performances and overnight.

I wonder how many people remember that the “old Sears building” once served as a meeting/exhibit hall.  Who remembers going to one of the Haunted Houses held there years ago?   If you did, I was there selling tickets.  I’m sure there are some people who would even remember going to the Haunted Houses that were hosted at the Warner Theatre with the proceeds benefitting the Warner Theatre restoration.

Many, many years ago, the Warner Theatre hosted a summer film festival featuring old-time movies.  It gave everyone a chance to see these movies on the big screen at very reasonable prices.  Does anyone remember going to any of these films?  I remember that on “Opening Night” of the summer film series, employees would dress up elegantly like the actors and actresses starring in the films and they would arrive in front of the Warner Theatre to walk ‘the red carpet’.  Fans would be assembled to take their pictures and then go inside to watch the film.

Another memorable event was watching the demolition of the “old Sears building” from our office window. This demolition was making way for the construction of the ballpark. We (my coworkers and I) also watched the entire construction of the ballpark from our office.  It was completed in May of 1995.  We attended the grand opening of the ballpark which was quite a great celebration.

Years and years ago, as an administrative assistant, I had a great deal of typing to do and this was before word processors.  I used a typewriter and carbon paper if I needed duplicates.  When typing purchase orders, there were three pages – one was white, one was yellow and one was pink.  I was lucky enough to have white, yellow and pink Wite Out for my typographical errors.  I was ecstatic when I received my computer.  The typewriter, carbon paper and Wite Out became obsolete.  I also remember that our first copier was called a Xerox machine.  Copies made were often referred to as carbon copies.

I fondly remember coming in to work the day after our first Elton John Concert (April 2000) to find a huge floral arrangement sitting on my desk.  After making a few inquiries, I learned that the show promoter for this concert arranged for me to receive these beautiful flowers that were in Elton John’s dressing room.  I was very touched by this kind gesture.

I remember there were two days during my employment where the mood in the office was extremely somber and not much work was accomplished.  The staff stayed glued to the small television set in the office all day trying to make sense of what was happening. The first disaster was when the Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff on January 28, 1986 with seven people killed.  The staff was heartbroken to hear about this.   They were even more distressed to watch what was occurring in our country on September 11, 2001.   We saw the devastation and destruction.  We learned about the loss of thousands of lives and we heard about the heroes who gave their lives helping others.

For quite some time, I served as swear police for our main office.  I was given a genuine certificate and a shiny badge to substantiate my appointment to this position.  I was in charge of the swear jar and I was very diligent in collecting $1.00 per offense.  Once, when the jar was full, we had enough money to buy dinner for all of us.  After that, the money collected was used to purchase clothing and toys for the homeless children we sponsored each year.

As my last day of work grows nearer, I’m asked more and more frequently what my plans are when I retire.  I’ll have been given the gift of time, which is the time to pursue all my hobbies and interests.  Birdwatching is my first love.  Photography is my second.  Two of my photos have appeared in wildlife calendars and I’ve won numerous ribbons for photos I’ve entered into contests.  I’m going to take some time when I retire to become more familiar with my fairly new camera and zoom lenses.  I need to learn how to use all the special features available to me.

I’m an avid reader of mostly non-fiction and mostly historical biographies.  I’m very interested in World War II, the Underground Railroad, the weather, birds & migration and life within the Arctic Circle.  I thoroughly enjoy coloring in my adult coloring books with my sparkle gel pens.   I’m also a “collector.”  I collect beach pottery and beach glass.  I collect Hallmark ornaments, focusing mainly on “The Beauty of Birds” and “Harry Potter”.   I collect some pop culture and movie dolls.  I have Barbie and Midge, Tris (Divergent/Insurgent), Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games), Harry Potter dolls and Jacob (Twilight).  I’m a novice “cloud collector” and I’m looking forward to learning more and more about clouds as I go along.

I think I’ll be busier when I retire than when I worked here.  And that’s fine with me.

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by Ed Snyder, Assistant Director of Sports Facilities

Here at Erie Insurance Arena, there is always activity and we are always looking forward to what’s next.   However, getting ready for the next big event is a team effort and we have a lot of people working behind the scenes to make sure everything is just right for when you come in the door.

First of all, we need to set the arena for the type of event we will be hosting.  Our Operations staff works around the clock to make sure everything is set up properly.  If the Erie Otters have a game, we need to make sure the ice is ready to skate on and set up just the way the players like.  Once we install the ice surface in August it is down until hockey season is complete in the spring!

When the Erie BayHawks have a game, we first cover the ice and then build the basketball court, courtside suites and kids zone right on top of the ice covering.  It takes our overnight Operations staff approximately eight hours to convert the arena from hockey to basketball.

Concerts, graduations and other special events are similar to basketball as we cover the ice and then construct whatever is needed on top of the floor.  We may build stages, chair set ups and other special requirements depending on what the show or event requires.  We may even bring in 55 dump truck loads of dirt to put on the floor as we did in November for Monster Jam!  Our local Stage Hands arrive at the arena hours before the event and work long after to assist the traveling crews with set up and tear down all of the gear, lighting and sound that may be used.

Once the arena is set, our Housekeeping, Food & Beverage, Guest Services and Security departments all get to work to ensure everything is stocked, cleaned, prepped and ready for guests to enter.  Our Box Office staff is on hand for any ticketing needs and our Production staff prepares content for the video board.

It is truly a team effort with hundreds of employees working behind the scenes to make sure building is ready to go! It would not be possible to host over 100 events a year without our staff.  We at Erie Events are very proud of our staff and cannot thank them enough.  All of us can’t wait to see you at an event in 2019!

‘Snow’ Getting Around Winter Work

by Dave Yusz, Building and Grounds Superintendent

I’m a snow man.

Notice the space in that. I’m not a snowman (it would be pretty impressive that I’d be writing this blow right now)! I’m a snow man. When it snows, I’m the man who has to deal with it.

And while winters in Erie are terrible all the time, it’s especially bad to deal with until the lake g"Haven't you finished shovelling the driveway yet?"ets frozen. When the winds kick up, the bay water washes up and tears up the sea walls. There’s been a few times where we have to block off the sidewalk down on the Bayfront because of ice and snow buildup.

The worst we’ve ever had it came last year at Christmastime. I’d ask if anyone remembers, but how could you forget? In addition to taking care of the Bayfront Convention Center area, we also take care of the Sheraton and Courtyard. Marvin, a crew leader here at the Bayfront Convention Center, and I came in on Christmas night to deal with the accumulation of snow.

We worked 17 hour days for 6 or 7 days straight.

It’s not that we don’t have the equipment. We have plows, a box blow, brushes, snowblowers, shovels…you name it, we’ve got it. But the other thing we’ve got is a whole bunch of property to take care of.

If it snows, say, six inches, it will take us five or six hours to have everything accessible for people. To have it spotless (or close, anyway), we’re looking at about 10 hours.

And, naturally, it snows at the most inconvenient times. If there’s an event, it’s three times worse, too. All you’re doing is trying to clear paths so that people can drive and get out. Unfortunately, that sometimes means a little snow ends up behind people’s cars, and yes, I notice the sign language they give me to show their appreciation for that snow!

I’ll end this blog with a little note about the geese, which I wrote about last time — and yes, they’re still there in the same spot by the Courtyard! They aren’t scared of our wolves!

The geese stay in the winter, and they like to go where we’ve paved. Often, we’ll be trying to pave a spot and there they are, standing in our way. We’ll rev the engine, honk the horn and do what we can to get them to move, but when they don’t — and they won’t — we go to another spot and come back later.

Even a snow man won’t mess with those geese.

 

 

 

Boogie on the Bay is Top Choice for New Year’s Party

by Brighid O’Brien, Executive Assistant/Premium Services Coordinator

Are you just starting to think about what your plans are for New Year’s Eve?  Boogie on the Bay the Hollywood Way at the Bayfront Convention Center is certainly the right fit!

Come with a date or wboogieticketsonsaleith a group of friends and a great time will be had by all.  Enjoy dancing the night away while the Chozen Few plays everyone’s favorite songs.  Heavy hors d’oeuvres and four drink tickets are provided in the ticket price, as well as a champagne toast at midnight!  If you are looking to spend the night there are hotel packages offered at the Sheraton and Courtyard, though those are going quickly.

Grab your tickets here before we sell out!

Looking for a Job? We’re Hiring!

by Gus Pine, General Manager of the Bayfront Convention Center

As the General Manager of the Bayfront Convention Center, I’m often asked about the biggest challenges I face in my position. It’s always fun to talk about my experiences over the years; like dealing with circus animals in your convention center for a week, or how to clean up a building after a 3,000 person paint and electronic dance party. In reality, the biggest challenge I face in a given year has always been finding and keeping dedicated customer service-oriented staff.

We often work when others are celebrating, and that can present a problem for people unwilling or unable to have a flexible work schedule. For others, however, the jobs we offer can be ideal. For students, semi-retirees, teachers or anyone looking to supplement their income with part-time work, we have lots of positions we are looking to fill to service our convention and show guests. We are proud of ForSaleSign-mockup10our service culture, so a positive, friendly approach is just as important when we look for a potential employee. Surprisingly, these people seem to be harder and harder to find in today’s competitive environment.

To address some of our challenges we’ve implemented several changes over the past year. For instance, we now offer a money incentive for any of our current employees that recommend a new hire that is able to make it through 90 days of employment. Any employee can refer an employee to work in the following departments: Operations, Food & Beverage, & Kitchen. That referred employee must work 300 hours in a 12 month period. We feel strongly that tomorrow’s star employee can come from today’s star employee. In addition, we are offering a new “on-call” designation of flexible employment that allows for people to utilize us as a second or even third job. And finally, we have begun to work more closely with our two hotels in order to share workers across or organization which is allowing some people to work as many hours they would like across our three properties.

In my role, I’ve come to realize that we will always be on the lookout for more people friendly employees. With our busy year ever coming up in 2019, this certainly won’t change anytime soon. Whether you’re a current employee who knows someone looking for part-time work or someone looking to supplement their own income, we are always looking to add customer-oriented people to our family!

To become a part of our team or to learn more about our recommendation incentives contact our Human Resources Department at dweaver@erieevents.com

Thanksgiving-time Events at Bayfront Convention Center

by Ariana Malizia, Event Coordinator

Festival of Trees 2018
Live ReindeerAs Thanksgiving creeps closer, our doors will be opening yet again for the annual Festival of Trees event.  This affair takes place the weekend following Thanksgiving, and has proven to be a door buster for children and adults alike. Guests who enter the building receive a ticket to choose their favorite decorative tree in the Grand Ballroom, and the winner is chosen at the conclusion of their final day, Sunday, November 25. The winner of 2017 was the NICU Nurses at Hamot. From meeting real reindeer, busting out all moves in Santa’s Dance Party room, writing letters to Soldiers and having Breakfast or Lunch with Santa, there’s never a dull moment in the day when you come to this festival!

Festival ticket prices:
-$6 for children and $10 for adults.
Breakfast/Lunch with Santa (includes tickets to the Festival)
-$15 for children and $20 for adults.

Hours:   Friday 10:00AM-8:00 PM
Saturday 10:00AM-8:00PM
Sunday 10:00AM-5:00PM

MMA Bayfront Brawl 2018
BoxingPrior to the Festival’s opening day (Friday November 23), another event will be hosted the evening before Thanksgiving; that being the annual MMA Bayfront Brawl. Tickets for this event are $30 for General Admission, $50 for VIP and $600 for a VIP table (tables are sold as a single unit, not by chair), which are located closest to the octagon. This bout is brought to you by Bizzarro Promotions and is another high-volume event during the month of November. Doors will open at 6:00PM and the fights begin promptly at 7:00PM. While you’re here, you can enjoy an all brands bar as well as our many offerings at the concessions stand!

How To Save On Tickets

by Ann Noble, Box Office Manager

Sell-more-tickets-for-eventEver wonder how you can purchase your tickets quick and easy? Possibly save a few bucks along the way? Let’s take a look at the ways you can purchase tickets to your favorite show!

The most important thing is to make sure you are purchasing directly from the venue or the official website! There are a lot of websites out there, but be sure to go to www.erieevents.com to get your tickets at the correct price. Other websites charge much more than the face value on the ticket, and if you misplace your ticket that you paid a small fortune for, well, we cannot help with that as we did not have anything to do with that transaction.  Tickets can also be purchased by calling us directly at (814) 452-4857 during regular business hours.

If you opt to purchase tickets online or by phone, additional convenience fees will apply. These fees range anywhere from $2.25 all the way up to $10.25 per ticket, and they are based on the ticket price.

Tickets for events at our facilities are available in person at the Erie Insurance Arena box office located at 809 French Street.  Here’s the advantage to buying your tickets in person: You only pay the face value of the ticket! No convenience fees, no additional handling fees — just the ticket price!  That can add up to a lot of savings! If you are able to visit our box office in person, there is parking located in the service apron on 8th Street.  Don’t worry if you see the signs posted as handicap-accessible parking, as it also states that this is parking for ticket pick up as well.

Whatever way you choose to purchase your tickets, rest assured you will get the best possible seats at the time at the fairest price. We look forward to seeing you at your favorite event soon!

Box Office Hours

Winter

Labor Day thru Memorial Day

Monday – Friday: 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Saturday:  10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. (non-event days)

10:00 a.m. until intermission (event days)

Sunday: Closed ( non-event days)

Noon until intermission (event days)

Summer

Monday – Friday: 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday: Closed

Warner Theatre Continues Busy Schedule

by Barry Copple, Operations Manager of the Warner Theatre

Hello, Erie! In many ways, it’s been a busy time here at the Warner Theatre. In the last several months through October we have held  16 events varying from weddings, receptions, Philharmonic performances, private lobby events, a sold out Jerry Seinfeld show in August, REO Speedwagon concert, and Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac.

The next two months are even busier with 17 events including

  • The Erie Philharmonic Nov 3rd and Dec 1
  • The Broadway show “Menopause” on Nov 7th
  • Toby Mac concert on Nov 11th
  • The Warner Theatre Christmas Craft and Art Show Nov 24-25
  • The Broadway show “The Sound Of Music” Nov 29th
  • A Motown Christmas comes to Erie Sunday, Dec 2nd
  • The Beach Boys will perform their “Reason For The Season Tour”, Dec 5th
  • The annual Nutcracker Ballet will be held Dec 15-16
  • Little’s Dance Studio will perform their holiday performance Dec 22
  •  We end the year with Grace Church services, held  Dec 23rd 6 p.m. & 8 p.m., and Christmas Eve the 24th, 2 p.m. & 4 p.m.

So you can see how much exciting and diverse programing we have here at the Warner Theatre in Downtown Erie, Pa.

On a side note, Erie had a very exciting event in October, including a Presidential visit to the Erie Insurance Arena.  The Arena staff did a magnificent job pulling together such a huge undertaking in such a short few days. Hats off to all of them that made the event such a smooth and seamless day.  Even though this was an EIA event, the Warner Theatre did play a part in the logistics and planning. It was one to remember.

2018 was a good year, and 2019 is going to be an even better and more exciting year — not just from a programming stand point, but we are also scheduled to begin a long awaited final restoration and expansion of the Warner Theatre.  Plans are being finalized as we speak and you can be sure in the coming months and year, you will see and hear all about the wonderful things that are scheduled to take place as part of this construction project.  Erie will be very surprised!!  This, however, means we will have some down time for the Theatre in 2019 and 2020. This schedule is soon to be set, but the plan is for a finished building in Nov. 2020. I can’t wait! So “Get UP And Go Erie!” You have lots to choose from when it comes to entertainment in beautiful downtown Erie.

Until we talk again…Thank you, Erie.

BCC Takes Grades Seriously

by Lisa DiLuzio, Director of Marketing & Sales at Bayfront Convention Center

Even in my professional life, one of the things I value most is my report card.

Some things never change.

As part of my role as the Director of Marketing and Sales at the Bayfront Convention Center, I am responsible for ensuring great customer experiences. And really, there’s no better way of hearing back from our customers than with a customer survey.

Here’s how it works: We ask customers to rate us on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the best) on these categories: Overall Food, Overall Cleanliness, Overall Operations Department, Overall Service, and Overall Staff. Then, we total it up and get an Overall Score Average.

Getting all 5’s on our survey feels a lot like being a student and bringing home that report card with all A’s.

reportcardEach of our event coordinators follows up directly with each and every customer at the conclusion of the event verbally and then forwards a customer survey to complete that outlines details of the event’s experiences. The event coordinator has a monthly/quarter goal they’re held to, and the building as a whole is held accountable to a percentage goal.

But we don’t just want 5’s. We want to earn them.

These surveys assist the Bayfront Convention Center in making changes, enhancements, etc. to make experiences even better for all. It’s a great way to listen to what our customers are saying and looking for, and a constant working aide to help us continue to strive for the best.

Like in the classroom, we want to learn and grow as we earn our grades.