Q & A with Chris Gerhart
President-Crescent Event Productions, Charlotte, NC
How many years in the hospitality industry?
I personally grew up in the industry, beginning my career working for my father, who owned Impact Audio/Visual Systems out of Southern California for 30+ years. I went to work for my father full time in 2007, and bought my father's company, re-branding it as Crescent Event Productions, in 2013. I have worked full time in the industry since 2007. While our company is technically only just over a year old, we are building on the 30+ year history of my father's company, and have client, vendor and employee relationships dating back well before the formation of Crescent Event Productions last year.
How long have you been a PCMA member?
I only joined PCMA in January of 2014, and attended the annual meeting in Boston. It was a fantastic networking and educational opportunity.
Current job title at your organization?
I'm the CEO of Crescent Event Productions.
Most everyone has had to make a last minute adjustment to “Plan A”. What advice do you have for clients regarding making a “Plan B”?
Be flexible, and trust the people you hire. Running an event is similar to managing a company, you've got to be surrounded with people more talented than yourself. When you're forced to adjust for a "Plan B" scenario having the right team (both full time and vendor/subcontractor) gives you the peace of mind that the outcome will be the best it possibly can. Sometimes putting talented people in a high-pressure "Plan B" scenario allows them to really shine, and the outcome can often be better than the "Plan A" scenario you were preparing for.
If you could recommend one book, what would it be and why? (this can be a book to read just for fun or for personal/career benefit)
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. The book speaks to the culture that I think is lost in today's workforce (and one that I'm trying to create in my growing organization). To set ourselves apart we have to do more than offer a great service at a competitive price. We have to create those "wow" moments at every opportunity, which is done by having a dedicated team more interested in the service of others than of self.
What types of social media work best for you and your business?
Facebook for sure. We are very active in promoting our business, and our customer's events. Not an event goes by that doesn't get photos, messages, hashtags, etc, posted via our Facebook account. I personally use LinkedIn quite a bit as well for building and strengthening my personal network, but from a company standpoint Facebook has been a fantastic social media resource.
“Comfort Food”…we all crave it! What & where is the very best (in your opinion, of course)?
Sushi... Pretty much any type from a top-notch sushi restaurant. SugarFish is a great Southern California chain with some really unique options.
What is your advice on staying relevant in the hospitality/meetings industry?
Given my position as an audio/visual provider I think it is all about the use of new and innovative technologies. From LED walls to digital meter boards, to decorative / theatrical lighting, to custom hard and soft sets. It doesn't have to dramatically increase cost to offer something greater than a "black drape" event. Also making your content available to your membership who might not be in attendance (via livestream, etc), without devaluing the "on site" attendee experience.
Money is no object but you only have 5 days including travel time: Where would you go and what would you do?
I'm tempted to say that I'd stay home. It would make the best use of the 5-days (no travel time) and given how much travel I already do a few days at home would be welcomed! :-)
But, I'll play along -- I'd say a great family cruise. I have a beautiful wife and two young boys (make that three this Friday) and would love to give them an amazing experience like that. Let’s call it a five day Disney Cruise to the Bahamas out of Charleston so I could travel and start the cruise experience all in one day!