Do you want a top singing star to give a private performance for your group? How about front-row tickets to a mega-sporting event? Or maybe your group would prefer backstage passes to a gala awards show. Whatever it is, if Manny Kess, principal of The Kess Group
in Las Vegas, can't get it, then it can't be got. Here's how this top VIP host, makes the impossible, possible.
What is a VIP host and how did you get started as one?
A VIP host is someone who helps organize and facilitate the arrangements being made for all types of client needs.
What we do is very different from a regular VIP host, who typically works for either a hotel or a specific property. Rather, we work for a specific client, which can be an individual or a company. We don't steer a client to a specific property, we take care of a client's every need while they are visiting Las Vegas.
In 2011 I moved to Las Vegas from New York, where I owned a restaurant and catering company in Manhattan, to take a position as a VIP host at the world famous Wet Republic Ultra Pool. I made the move because it was a great opportunity and I had always been enticed by the Las Vegas culture and lifestyle. It was a fresh new challenge and chance for me to expand and grow.
I was promoted within 8 months at stayed with the company for one year, and then started my company shortly thereafter. This was borne out by the fact that I saw there was a need to service my clients from start to finish, as opposed to steering them to specific venues that were under my umbrella. This served as the core of what became The Kess Group.
What qualities make a great VIP host?
A great work ethic, attention to detail, and thinking outside the box to create a customized experience for the client. I also think it's essential for a VIP host to see the long-term big picture as opposed to what is in front of them today. Finally and perhaps most importantly: Treating the customer the way that the VIP host would want to be treated.
How can meeting planners make the most of a VIP host's services?
Meeting planners can benefit from having "boots on the ground" that know the area and all the venues, and are able to quickly ascertain the goals of their group. They should be a specialist as opposed to a generalist. Simply picking up a phone and calling a hotel or restaurant is very generic. When I can text a GM of a facility, I can be more effective and make things that are unavailable become available.
What are some of the more elaborate things you have arranged for a meeting groups?
Three examples come to mind.
I once placed a group front row to the World Cup finals in Brazil.
I've also had a high-profile corporate executive and his senior team backstage at the Oscars. Having the opportunity to meet your favorite celebrity and actually spend time with them as opposed to seeing them walk by or even paying for a meet and greet which is basically a cattle call where you get ushered in for a quick photo is priceless. Especially when you are talking about dozens of celebs in the same space. My client still raves about that night.
I have had a Grammy award-winning artist perform a private concert for a corporate group in a huge suite in Las Vegas. The tricky part beyond the budget for something like that is putting it all together. From the airfare and transportation to ensuring the client follows the artist's requests, there are a lot of details. It's not as simple as cutting a check or transferring funds into an account. There is a tremendous amount of dialogue and negotiating that takes places behind the scenes. That's where our relationships with artists as well as talent managers provide us with extra leverage.
Because we are personal friends with these people, they know they aren't going blindly into an event. That goes a long way toward making something like this happen
What are the major challenges you and The Kess Group have to overcome day-to-day?
The biggest challenge is always finding exactly what the client wants, getting approval for the budget, and then executing it flawlessly. For all those events, people may not want to spend the money. Often, corporate opportunities have many, many loopholes that need to be handled.