Ricardo Ortiz | 08/21/2017
Sometimes the best ideas come from unexpected sources. For the 2018 Las Vegas Quilters, Points West Quilt Show and School, Shepard took our consultative approach to a fresh, new level. Let me share the story…
The Las Vegas Quilters were founded in 2008 to promote the art, craft, and heritage of quilt-making. In 2018, they will be making a quantum leap from local meetings to a national event being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For Ida Connors, Events Chair, which created a huge problem: They had never done an event of this size. “We thought we were going to do a small show, but we ended up doing one that’s much larger. Our team doesn’t have the experience to handle an event this size, and we have limited resources. That’s why we needed Shepard.”
A Unique Challenge
Lauren Bauer, our National Sales Manager, saw this as a unique opportunity to shepherd (pun intended) LV Quilters through the process of creating a successful event. “Ida and her team are experts in all areas of quilting, but they are not trained event organizers. Through our discovery process, I realized that she was going to need additional resources to make this a full-on professional event. Our approach at Shepard is to be consultative to our clients, so I connected her to our network to find the special help she needed.”
The Innovative Solution
The innovative solution came from Shinyong (Shawn) Jung, Ph.D., at the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The Points West Show and School became the special assignment for a six-week course. Students were divided into three groups and tasked with developing a launch event, from concept, site selection, floor plan, marketing and other resources a third-party planner would use during a traditional RFP process – using the Shepard consultative process.
“The Special Events Management course is for juniors and seniors who are majoring in meetings and events management,” explained Shawn Jung. “This was a tremendous opportunity to get hands-on experience with a real project and client. Each group developed concepts and ideas, created an event website, and developed a presentation to showcase its plans to the association.”
Ida, Lauren and I were present to share our expertise and advice to the class. Jung appreciated the involvement from everyone, “Shepard treated the members of the class like professionals. The students learned from Ida, Lauren, and Ricardo as well as each other. There was a lot of interaction. The students learned how industry professionals think, the procedures they follow and how to set expectations.”
A Consultative Approach
Throughout the six weeks, we used our process to provide structure. The focus was making the event a win-win-win for the organizers, exhibitors, and attendees.
Lauren Bauer explained it this way, “We are Ida’s service provider and a partner, and served as consultants to the UNLV students. We didn’t tell them what to do — we helped them understand the event process to establish the framework for success. Shepard provided our combined experience and tools to help them develop the most professional concepts.”
Priority #1 – Fresh Ideas
The objective was more than just creating a professional event plan. Ida Connors was looking for innovative and experiential ideas to incorporate into this new event. “The shows I’ve attended felt so predictable. We wanted some new ways to attract people and make the event more relevant and exciting. When I got involved with Shawn and the class, I thought ‘Wow’ — what an opportunity to get some new thinking and ideas from these fresh, young people.”
Jung agreed, “What makes this class unique is that the students don’t have any preconceived ideas about what you can and can’t do. They aren’t afraid of breaking away from the accepted ways of doing things. I think this makes them more confident in pitching their ideas.”
Six Weeks Later
Six weeks later, each team made a formal presentation to the Las Vegas Quilters Guild members and the class. The students transformed into professionals pitching their strategies, plans, and ideas for sponsorships and marketing. The level of expertise the class provided surprised Connors. “Their ideas were surprising — really out of the box, but practical. We could use all of them within the context of our event. They put a different spin on our show and made it unique. We have a lot to consider, and we will decide which ideas to use as the event develops this year and next.”
“One of the groups even came up with the idea of involving school children in the community,” she said. “We would make special presentations to classes about the history and art of quilting and invite them to attend the show as a field trip. Then we would have a custom experience designed for them.”
Professor Jung saw the experience as a way to give his students an edge in the job market after they graduate. “I was excited because there is no better learning than being involved in a real project. Project-based learning gives students practical, hands-on experience. When they go into the job market, they’ll be that much more likely to excel because the skills they developed with this project.”
The Value of Consultation
Looking back, this project was about taking a consultative approach and working together, Ida Connors told us. That’s what initially brought her to Shepard. “Shepard cares about their clients. It’s more than just business. I put bids out for our show. Everyone responded, but Lauren was the only one who met with me, took me to a show and helped me understand how they work with their clients. Shepard was working with me even before I gave them the job.”
Client interaction is essential for all of us at Shepard. Lauren Bauer puts it this way, “Being consultative isn’t about telling people what they want. It’s about listening, asking the right questions, providing the right tools and working together to make the event a success for everyone.”
That’s the inside story on the Las Vegas Quilters 2018 Points West Show and School. Just like a quilt, a successful event combines a variety of pieces that fit together through good design, strategy, and art to form something significant and memorable.
Join the Las Vegas Quilters at the Points West Show and School on October 17-20, 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.