Welcome to my sixth blog about three of my passions: event planning, sustainability and fine food and beverages.  This one takes us on location to Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), and the L.A. Convention Center (LACC). This is the big time, a tier one city, and a world-class venue. And with that comes world-class competition. In this blog we’ll talk about how to get (your brand) noticed in this town.

The Standard Hotel Rooftop

Waterbeds on the rooftop of The Standard

Cue lights, camera, action, and…
Scene One: Set against the backdrop of a breathtaking L.A. sunset, a party ensues on the rooftop of The Standard Hotel, an excellent special event location. As the sun descends, it creates glorious effects through the prismatic L.A. haze.  Zoom in on the gallery of beautiful people, each one a stylized work of art. Hair is fabulously colored, artfully sculpted. Clothing is all about the reveal of toned muscles, ink, and god-given beauty: the average person in L.A. is a 12!  It’s hard to get attention here, but I have a ready icebreaker. I hire for corporate. It’s all about positioning baby, and I’m optimistic I’ll get a call back…

For now, why don’t you settle into one of these Iconic Red Waterbeds and I’ll order you a locally crafted Beverly Hills 90H20 mineral water. Because here, nothing tastes better than thin feels, and tomorrow we have an early crew call.

Los Angeles Convention Center West Hall

LACC West Hall

DTLA has made a successful comeback since 2007, and the L.A. convention center (LACC) is now located in a hip, vibrant, walkable district that includes the L.A. LIVE complex, GRAMMY Museum, STAPLES Center, Nokia Theater, art galleries, world class museums, upscale hotels, hundreds of restaurants, and totally awesome rooftop bars.

However, the LACC is not just a pretty facade. In 2015 it received the prestigious Sustainable Innovation Award from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the organization behind the LEED green building standards. To be LEED certified, a building must have been constructed according to these standards, and designed for energy-efficient operations. LEED certified buildings conserve natural resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants.

Why is this so important?

Let’s focus on the big picture: CO2 emissions are the number one contributor to global warming, and the number one source of CO2 is coal-generated electrical plants. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Energy Book reports that commercial buildings consume almost 20% of the electrical energy in the U.S., and 30% of that energy goes to lighting. If we can minimize the energy use drawn by commercial buildings, we might actually make a difference in the fight against global warming. But that’s only one issue. Air pollutants from coal-generated electrical plants are a major contributor to many serious national health issues, including the epidemic of asthma in children.

The event industry has a giant environmental footprint. There are approximately 1.8 million meetings in the U.S. each year, attracting an estimated 205 million attendees. According to MeetGreen, the average attendee is responsible for .18 metric tons of C02 per day. That’s an impact of 110,700,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to the C02 emissions produced by 23,500,000 passenger vehicles for an entire year.

The LACC is a LEED GOLD building

We event planners can make a difference if we collectively create demand. Make sure to ask your venue about their sustainability standards, and only support venues that are LEED certified. And despite those pernicious rumors, sustainable choices do not cost more. In fact, the opposite is true. Check out the recent Environmental Leader’s LEED Venues article and learn how LEED certified venues increase savings and decrease operating costs. 

What does this LEED stuff have to do with getting noticed? Glad you asked!

Sustainability Marketing is a thing. Now that you’ve made the right choices, leverage your good work into brand equity! Tweet, post and by all available channels get the word out to your attendees and community that your organization is following green standards. Social and environmental responsibility has never before been more key to building customer loyalty, creating goodwill, and giving your brand a competitive advantage.

A bit more about getting noticed by working at the LACC. I’ve been on 2 different project teams tasked with branding the LACC. The challenge is how to create awareness and impact is such a massive space? Here are two case studies for your consideration:

Project one: Establish market dominance for Autodesk, exhibiting at an industry trade show.

  • First Impressions! To achieve industry presence, we started with a banner on the front of the LACC West Hall. It was so large you could see it from the 10, and needed wind slits to prevent it from ripping free in the wind. 
  • Brand Awareness: Even before attendees entered the exhibit hall, they were met with product branding. Placed throughout the foyers and atrium, a series of 8’ tall branded kiosks established presence for each market group.
  • Market leadership: A trade show floor is a physically manifested marketplace, where customers and prospects feel your market presence relative to the competition. And here, size matters. Our booth itself was physically bigger and bolder than any other exhibitors, and so large, the fire marshal required it to have exit aisles. It featured hanging signs, demo stations, and stunning signature murals. The booth was always crowded because of our two stages, where professional talent and generous giveaways ensured full theaters at every presentation. 

Did we dominate? Yes. Hell Yes.

Project two: Brand the LACC West Hall for an entire tech conference with $10,000.

  • The solution leveraged light and sound, which scale big without big cost.
    Gobo lighting was used to project conference identity on walls, and a DJ filled the atrium with music.
  • A very spare budget was used for a tangible elements:
    • A customized entrance archway created physical gravitas
    • A ‘walk of fame’ created with carpet clings provided branding and wayfaring throughout the building.

Attendees felt welcomed, like they really arrived somewhere: mission accomplished! This solution was also relatively green, using very little new materials and renting (re-using) AV equipment and structures.

As with any production, it takes an army. I’d like to give some kudos and credit to:

Visit Los Angeles (The LA CVB), and the LACC sales and service staff. They made it easy and made us look good!
You were all professional, resourceful, friendly, and amazingly good-looking. Thank you Los Angeles!

My vendor crush in L.A. for signage is CR&A Custom Banner. They are green printers, and their team are experts at installing at the venue. They also get a special mention for understanding Google spreadsheets!

Well now, great to catch up with you. I’m way over my character limit so I better call this a wrap. Oh, and my cell phone is ringing, and this is one I need to take…



P.S. Why am I so passionate about air quality?  It’s personal. I grew up in Los Angeles, where there were smog alerts 3 or 4 times a week. During a smog alert, P.E. was cancelled, and children, old and infirm people were told to not go outside or exert themselves. Things have improved since those days, but there is still critical work to do. The most impactful, page-turning book on this topic is Lives Per Gallon, by Terry Tamminen, former Secretary of the California EPA. This deeply researched book details the health, environmental, and national security costs hidden in every barrel of oil. It clearly explains the correlation between airborne industrial pollutants and healthcare costs shouldered by all of us through taxes, insurance premiums and direct medical expenses. It should be required reading for every citizen.