Read and analyze the case study and answer eleven essay disscussion questions at the end of the study.

| June 19, 2015

Executive Summary

It was 4:00 AM, on a crisp fall Las Vegas morning as Ben Malcom drove to the Ben Malcom Productions warehouse to meet his production crew to load the trucks for set-up at the Desert Inn Golf Course. He was looking forward to the dealer appreciation event that was to take place later that day for Forum Tires. Forum Tires had a new CEO, David Oakley, who saw the value in holding an exciting event for the dealers and major distributors of their products. They were seeking an innovative theme and unique venue. It was emphasized in the Request for Proposal (RFP) that the “Take-Away” for attendees at this event should be a “very positive feeling and attitude” toward Forum Tires. And Ben was confident that Ben Malcom Productions would not only meet, but exceed, Forum Tires’ expectations.
Weather predictions were such that it would be a typical crystal clear evening, with the lights of The Las Vegas Strip forming a backdrop for Forum Tires on the manicured, emerald green, driving range at the Desert Inn golf course. Forum Tires chose to host a dealer appreciation event for their most loyal and productive outlets from across the country. Forum Tires’ corporate office hired Ben Malcom Productions, to create, produce, and execute a party for the top 200 dealers and their guests. Forum Tires wanted to create a night to remember.
The creation of such an exciting event took careful planning between corporate officers of Forum Tires, the Event Management Department staff at the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino, and the staff of Ben Malcom Productions. Layouts, designs, and ideas were formulated through many hours of critical thinking and planning. The assembly of the event infrastructure began days before the actual event occurred. Trucks were loaded with decorations, furniture, site-plans, production schedules and other necessary elements for the event. After weeks of meticulous planning, the event was ready to be executed.
All events include elements of risk. However, events that venture outside of the standard hotel/conference event space such as ballrooms and banquet rooms come with a unique set of risks that some clients feel are worth taking in order to create a “wow factor” experience for their guests. Ben Malcom Productions was about to embark on a journey that would discover unpredictable roadblocks en route to the production of an event located in a unique venue.
Introduction

Case studies have long been recognized as a valuable learning tool, providing instructors with methods for promoting mental inquiry and students with real life examples to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate. Case studies are descriptions of real events, with factual accounts of what happened. Case studies require analysis and evaluation of past events. The reader is encouraged to develop criteria and decisions for future actions through study of principals presented in the case. The assessment, discovery, and solution processes provide a valuable learning experience.

Presentation of Case
Background
It was 4:00 AM, on a crisp fall Las Vegas morning as Ben Malcom drove to the Ben Malcom Productions warehouse to meet his production crew to load the trucks for set-up at the Desert Inn Golf Course. He was looking forward to the dealer appreciation event that was to take place later that day for Forum Tires. Forum Tires had a new CEO, David Oakley, who saw the value in holding an exciting event for the dealers and major distributors of their products. Forum Tires was seeking an innovative theme and unique venue for their event. It was emphasized in the Request for Proposal (RFP) that the “Take-Away” for attendees at this event should be a “very positive feeling and attitude” toward Forum Tires. As with most corporate events Ben had one night to get it right and he was confident that Ben Malcom Productions would not only going meet, but exceed, Forum Tires’ expectations.
Ben’s confidence was high as this event had been meticulously planned over the last nine months and Ben had twenty years experience in the industry. But, most of the event had been negotiated with the Desert Inn’s long time Director of Events, Caroline Wallace. Ben had worked with her for ten years and she retired six months prior to the Forum Tires event. The new Director was Tracy Richards who was affable and seemingly competent despite her short time in the events industry. Yet a gnawing feeling lurked in the corner of Ben’s mind that if there was a wild card in the deck it just might be Tracy.
Weather forecasts predicted a typical crystal clear evening, with the lights of The Las Vegas Strip in the background, setting the stage for the Forum Tires event on the manicured, emerald green, driving range at the Desert Inn Golf Course. Forum Tires chose to host this dealer appreciation event for their most loyal and productive outlets from across the nation. Forum Tires’ corporate office hired Ben Malcom Productions, (BMP) to create, produce, and execute a party for their top 200 dealers and more than 150 accompanying guests. They wanted to create a night to remember.
The Event Site Supervisor for Forum was Nancy Matheny. Nancy reported to the Forum VP of Marketing, Chloe Derringer.
Las Vegas, Nevada, known for its gaming, restaurants, entertainment, and adult activities, is also known nationwide as one of the most successful meeting, convention and event destinations. It should be noted that Forum Tires based their decision concerning where they would book their rooms, food, beverage, and meetings business on where the event would take place. The theme of the event, and essential requirements to execute the theme, became an even more important element to their overall choice for the host property and meeting space.
Up Up and Away
According to David Oakley, CEO of Forum Tires, “This event needed to be special. It had been five years since we (Forum Tires) had held a major event for our dealers and key distributors. It required the talents of a special event producer and a unique venue. I was aware that when meetings and events are held in Las Vegas, attendance figures increase; and attracting guests to private, sponsored events is highly competitive. I believed it was necessary for our company to search for a unique venue as well as an event producer who was experienced in producing this highly specialized type of event.”
Yes, these venues come with higher risks, but the rewards can be memorable. Unlike the safe, reliable, and available elements found in a hotel banquet room, country club, or other permanent event structure, many components are nonexistent at unique venues, which often require the producer to literally start with a blank canvas. However, it is up to the event producer to act in a responsible manner and conduct a risk analysis; conveying the results to their clients in order for the client to make an informed decision whether or not to use a unique venue.
According to Ben Malcom, “Unique venues are more exciting for guests. They add an element of exclusivity for attendees. A special feeling is instantly created when an event takes place in a space where events are ordinarily not allowed to be held such as a public street, the rooftop of a high-rise building, the floor of a basketball arena, or on the fifty-yard line of a football stadium.”
Ben Malcom Productions (BMP) was chosen by Forum Tires, after “making the short list” of four proposals from different Las Vegas event companies in response to a broad Request for Proposal (RFP) sent out nine months prior to the event. The Request for Proposal list included the most established and creative independent event production companies in Las Vegas, as well as in-house production teams from well-known Las Vegas Hotel Casino Resort properties.
During the presentation to Forum Tire executives, Ben Malcom, owner of Ben Malcom Productions, stated, “When you do a great many outdoor events in challenging locations with no event amenities—meaning no bathrooms, power, kitchen, tables, stage, chairs, lights, sound, or anything else, it poses a unique set of challenges for each event. As opposed to producing events in the confines of a big beige box of a ballroom, where the hotel resources and staff are a safety net for all the basics required to execute a generic dinner or reception. Ben Malcom Productions has become known for making ‘something out of nothing’ and winning bids for higher risk events based on our record of success. A few notable challenges spring to mind such as high winds that actually moved a stage at a downtown Fremont Street party; rain and high winds at a pool side high roller function at the Golden Nugget; a power failure at a ‘Crush the Competition’ event for Hewlett Packard; and many other problems that can be solved and don’t reach a level resulting in the event being shut down. We have always found solutions that allowed events to continue safely in the face of adversity. Risk management is always a concern, that is the nature of the business but, the show must go on!”
Forum Tires chose Ben Malcom Productions based on their experience with unique venues and on the creative theme they proposed. The theme, “Up, Up and Away” which included helicopter rides, tethered hot air balloon rides, a live band with interactive dancers, strolling entertainers, a Toyota SUV giveaway, chipping, putting, driving cage, and a fireworks display custom designed for the event. The proposal from Ben Malcom Productions stated, “What better way to spend an evening than enjoying the view of the fabulous Las Vegas strip from an upscale golf course with distinctive entertainment, exceptional food and amazing activities?” (p.8). Ben Malcom Productions was also chosen to plan and execute a welcome reception at the Desert Inn and a wet-dry tire test drive at a parking lot on McCarran International Airport property.
The creation of such an exciting event took careful planning with corporate officers from Forum Tires, the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino Event Management Department, and the staff of Ben Malcom Productions. Layouts, designs, and ideas were formulated through many hours of critical thinking and planning. The assembly of the event infrastructure began days before the actual event took place. Trucks were loaded with decorations, props, costumes, furniture, on-site diagrams, stage plots, schematics, and other integral components – both creative and logistical – in preparation for the day of the event. The Ben Malcom Productions warehouse became a staging area for the Forum Tires event. After weeks of meticulous planning, the event was ready to be executed.
The location of the party was on the driving range of the historic Desert Inn Golf Course. Ben Malcom Productions led his client to the driving range at the golf course for multiple reasons. First he had a ten year relationship with Caroline Wallace the person in charge of all entertainment and events for the Desert Inn. Second, it overlooked the historic Desert Inn Casino and Resort and a fabulous view of The Las Vegas Strip. Third, the theme of the event was focused to be up and positive and would be an excellent backdrop celebrating a positive fiscal year for the company.
At the time of Dunlop’s event, the Desert Inn was the premier high roller resort on “The Strip.” The accommodations were extraordinary and the golfing was fantastic. The Desert Inn Golf Club was home to the PGA’s Tournament of Champions for 13 years. Surrounded by scores of exotic imported palm trees and tall mature native trees, the highly rated Lawrence Hughes-designed course offered golfers fun, challenging, and incredibly beautiful holes. Also, this space held an aura of exclusivity created when an event is held in a place not usually available for such functions. It was a major coup for Ben Malcom Productions to secure this very exclusive venue for Dunlop Tires.
Problem Statement/Key Issues
The final portion of setup on the Desert Inn property began at 6:00 AM on the day of the event, because that was when the Desert Inn would agree to allow access to the driving range. Truckloads of equipment, décor, and supplies were being unloaded and then transported to their assigned locations on the driving range at the Desert Inn. As plans were laid out for the erection of the state of the art tent that was to house much of the event, precise details indicating where every element was to be installed were coordinated between the services providers following a site plan created by BMP. These interacting parties included Ben Malcom Productions’ staff, event vendors (contracted by BMP), Forum Tires’ employees, golf course management, and a labor pool from the Desert Inn Casino and Resort.
After site plans were discussed, each individual worker took on their responsibilities and moved forward. During the erection of the tent structure, at approximately 9:30 AM, a serious accident occurred as employees from the tent company were pounding three foot steel stakes into the ground. Frank Moore from Moore Tents tells the story. “My workmen were following the diagrams outlining locations of various underground services on a blueprint provided by the Desert Inn Golf Course grounds keepers. As the pressure and pounding increased, my workers found a water supply line for the course irrigation system that should not have been there. It was found in the worst way possible, by piercing it with the tip of a tent stake. There was water everywhere. The entrance to the tent instantly became a small pond with a bubbling fountain in the center. Not only was the area surrounding the tent entrance flooded, but the event was also only ten hours away from arriving guests. I rushed to contact Ben on his radio to see if he could get the water turned off. In a few minutes it was off but water had collected and this problem would need to be delt with before we could continue with the tent structure set up.”
Comments from Terry Cornett Director of Golf for the Desert Inn: “I was radioed around 9:35 AM by Ben Malcom that the tent company had driven a stake into a water supply line for our sprinkler system. It took about five minutes to get the water turned off to control the flooding. Ben Malcolm’s production team, Nancy Matheny from Forum Tires, Frank Moore from Moore Tents, and I had an emergency meeting with my chief groundskeeper, to discuss options and explore what we might be able to do to fix this mess and save the event site.”
Contemplating the Next Steps
After the water was turned off a brainstorming session was hastily arranged which included; Nancy Matheny from Forum, Tracy Richards, Terry Cornett Director of Golf, Frank Moore from Moore Tents and Ben Malcom. Ben consulted his production schedule, the Holy Grail of all event documents, which led to a rapid stakeholder analysis to determine how the on-site brain-stormed fix for the sprinkler pipe break would impact the remainder of vendors scheduled to arrive throughout the day. Every minute of time needed to get the tent installers back to work would be a minute of delay for the arriving vendors and the Desert Inn’s event staff. It was now 10:20 am.
While this meeting was in progress Ben received a radio transmission from a twenty year old UNLV intern, Eric Puhl, saying, “Ben you are going to love this one. Now there is a forklift stuck in the mud with a load of banquet tables right in the middle of our tent entrance. They are from the DI catering department. They were tracking through the mud trying to get tables inside the tent and then decided to drive the forklift in instead.” Ben asked him to first stop the delivery, which Eric had already done, and told him to wait for further instructions.
Tracy Richards, who was standing right next to Ben in the “how are we going to proceed” strategy meeting was asked by Ben, “Did you think to stop all hotel activities and deliveries to the tent until we had figured out what to do next?” She had not, and the expression on her face showed it when she exclaimed, “Oh my God!” She got on her radio immediately and relayed to her office a directive saying, “Stop all activity and deliveries to, the golf course driving range until further notice. I will get back to you with an update ASAP.” This officially stopped the deliveries from the catering and events department and motivated her office to get the rest of the hotel staff on the same page regarding activities on the driving range. Ben told Tracy, “I think we will be OK. Thanks to Eric we caught it right away.” But, additional damage had already been done. Ben looked at his watch. The time was 10:40 AM and the first guests were scheduled to arrive at 6:00 PM.
They needed to take into consideration all of the stakeholders involved:
200 Invited Dealers and their Guests, totaling 350 attendees
Barbara Wasserman: Event Manager, Ben Malcom Productions
Eric Puhl, UNLV Intern, Ben Malcom Productions
David Oakley: CEO of Forum Tires
Joanne Watters: Event Site Supervisor for Forum Tires
Carolyn Fulton: VP of Marketing for Forum Tires
Terry Cornett: Director of Golf Course Operations for the Desert Inn
Tracy Richards: Event Manager for the Desert Inn – catering, tables, chairs, staging, dance floor, golf course venue, hotel rooms
Sub Contractors:
Lantis Pyrotechnics: Fireworks display, Bob Lantis owner
Up and Away: Tethered hot-air balloon rides, Bob Jones owner
Sundance Helicopters: Helicopter rides over the Las Vegas strip
Roby Turner: Rockfield Drive Band
Moore Tents: Main event tent, Frank Moore CEO of Moore Tents
Absolute Amusements: Golf driving cage
Hire Power: Generators, Glen Stetson, General Manager
Top Hat Enterprises: Luxury Bathrooms, Sue Bussell owner
Air Dimensional Designs: Forty foot dancing cylinders
This meeting was critical to the event outcome and had to be conducted in the most expedient method possible, as by that time less than seven hours remained until the first guests would arrive. Time was of the essence; and Ben was not one to suffer from the “paralysis of analysis.” Rather, he was someone known as a good trouble-shooter and, therefore, able to think quickly on his feet while remaining professionally and ethically aware of the risks that accompanied each possible decision. Now, his intuition was telling him that this challenge needed his combined skills, experience and event management knowledge. Ben would need to bring all his experience, problem solving, and on-site management skills to bear on this unpredictable problem.

Appendix B.

Not Your Ordinary Watering Hole

DISCUSSION TOPIC
1) What happened during the water main break situation? As part of crisis management, you would need to investigate risk management, including the risks that the various stakeholders could have been potentially exposed to and how they might best be minimized.
2) Do you think that human resource management for events differ from other traditional business environments? (Support your Answer)
3) When the client chose to hold their event at a unique venue, many considerations had to be weighed before making this decision. In order for the client to do its due diligence toward the attendees, what needed to be investigated first before making this decision?
4) Develop a stakeholder analysis relevant to the issues resulting from the water main break and the upcoming “Up, Up & Away” event.
5) If you were Forum Tires, would you consider using a unique venue again to host an event? What assessment tool would you use to help you reach your decision?
6) What do you feel is the most crucial element in planning this event? Could that element have helped in this situation? Why or why not?
7) What would you have done differently in the planning process?
8) What were the strengths of the event’s execution? What were the weaknesses?
9) What would have been your first reaction to the water main break?
10) Would you have handled the water main problem differently? Explain.
11) Given this scenario, was cancelling or changing the date of the event a viable option? Explain.

 

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