Ignite

Sept/Oct 2014

A fresh resource for people who plan and manage meetings, events, business travel, promotions and incentive programs. Providing you with inspiration, guidance and great ideas.

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September | October 2014 | Ignitemag.ca | 31 Star Powered As president of Calgary's The Event Group, Dave Howard has produced events for more than 17 years, working with talent ranging from Jerry Seinfeld to Bonnie Raitt. But the person who stands out most is Neil Sedaka. In 2003, the singer was booked to headline a benefit for the Owen Hart Foundation with 2,500 attend- ees expected. A call came five minutes before the doors were to open. It was Sedaka. He was ill and couldn't go on. It was crisis time for Howard and his team. Calls went out immediately to the media, sponsors and Ticketmaster to get the word out that the concert was cancelled. Worse, the non-profit organization stood to lose up to $250,000. The venue and its staff still had to be paid, show or no show. Afterward, Howard began negotiating with Sedaka, hoping that he would agree to come back to Calgary. He told the performer about the good work that the foundation was doing in the community. Howard crossed his fingers and waited for an answer. A "no" could have meant litigation—a costly road no one wanted to go down. Fortunately, Sedaka agreed to return, and waived his fee as well. The show did go on and a tidy $80,000 was earned for the foundation. As a result, Howard won the trust of his client and has contin- ued to work with it. To boot, he even gets a Christmas card every year from Sedaka, rec- ognition that, in the end, everyone was happy with the results. LESSONS LEARNED: "When I first got the news that Sedaka was cancelling, I took a minute or two to compose myself and develop a plan," says Howard. "I knew that I had to set an example for my team and be confident that things would be resolved. I think it's important to have clear communi- cation with a client. Take responsibility for what's happened, then explain how you're going to solve the situation."

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