audio/visual at Pheasant Run Resort
United Visual provides
in-house a/v services at Chicagoland's largest resort
the third day of your company's conference and you're slated for a two
o'clock seminar. The thing you want most is for this meeting to be fast,
efficient and informative, because a round of golf and a dip in the
pool are beginning to sound really good right now. Meetings run long
for all sorts of reasons, but if this one's at Pheasant Run Resort,
you can bet that won't be because of technical problems. Planners
at the site have been in the business long enough to know the best way
to handle a/v services-an area that's critical if they want to end up
with a happy client when the day is done.
Though few of the
resort's guests realize it, since 1989 United Visual has been the primary
source for audio/visual and business center services at Pheasant Run.
By outsourcing these services, the resort's managers can concentrate
on other aspects of the business, comfortable that the a/v is being
handled by professionals.
As the midwest's
largest resort and convention center, Pheasant Run is a place where
business and pleasure mix comfortably. While some guests golf, swim
or sun, others are deep in discussion in one of the complex's 42
conference rooms or Megacenter convention hall. Pulling all these pieces
together properly means knowing when to do the work yourself and when
It's no secret that
the best organizations "stick to their knitting" and develop those skills
critical to their core business. "The biggest advantage for us is that
it's one less thing we have to focus on," says Pheasant Run director
of sales Tim Hobbs. "It frees us up to concentrate on our own specialty,
running the resort."
Yet it would not
be enough, says Hobbs, to bring in a/v equipment on an as-needed basis.
"Having the a/v services in house means clients can sit down with the
a/v staff and talk about their requirements in advance. And since United
has been here so long, they can advise clients on what equipment works
best in which room and in what situation." Although a few clients do
bring in their own equipment, Hobbs says it's usually when all they
need is an overhead or slide projector that they already own. Anything
more sophisticated comes as part of a meeting package put together by
United Visual and Pheasant Run.
The volume of meetings
held at the resort keeps United's staff on their toes and calls for
a sizeable inventory of audio-visual equipment. Yet a/v needs there
vary widely by the season. In the spring Pheasant Run may host as many
as 40 meetings at one time, and each may call for a different type of
equipment. Yet the resort typically sees only half its normal meeting
volume in January. For many resorts, stocking enough a/v equipment to
meet peak demand is a daunting prospect, as it's difficult to pay for
it in the off months. It does not help that many a/v systems become
obsolete quickly. A firm like United Visual can move inventory in and
out with fluctuating demand and has the ability to purchase new equipment
and sell off the old economically.
For all that, Hobbs
suggests that the real proof of the value of outsourcing is the result
he sees with customers. For example, at a resort of Pheasant Run's caliber,
clients expect everything to be perfect and ready when they ask for
it, even if it's at the last minute. Eleventh hour changes can be a
big issue at properties that don't have technicians and equipment on-site.
United's on-site manager, Mike Ferraro, says it's critical to keep staff
available whenever they might be needed. "When the clients are here,
we're here. If they're here until two in the morning, so are we. We're
just a page away when they need us."
That kind of service,
combined with the professional planning, catering and facility management
at the resort and the sheer scope of what's available to the customer,
helped Pheasant Run win the 1999 Gold Key Award from Meetings & Conventions
Magazine. The award symbolizes excellence in the business of meeting
planning and facilitating and reflects an ongoing, extremely high level
of customer satisfaction.
Meetings at the
in the midst of a five year, 15 million dollar facelift, Pheasant Run
will soon have a fresh new look. Renovations are underway in guest rooms,
health club areas, swimming pools, and in the business center run by
United Visual. "Before the business center opened, the front desk had
to fill all the business needs of our clients, from making copies to
finding paper clips," says Hobbs. "The business center has become one
of the busiest spots at the resort and its services are in constant
Hobbs expects the
renovations to help Pheasant Run continue to win the area's most important
events. George W. Bush, for instance, hung his flag at the resort's
Megacenter twice in the 2000 presidential campaign, and each time over
2,000 people gathered to hear him speak. Mike Ferraro says there was
a show going on in the Megacenter the evening before his first appearance,
so crews had to wait until late in the night before moving in to set
up for the event.
For each rally,
the United Visual crew hung a 40' truss from the ceiling above the stage
holding speakers, microphones and stage lighting fixtures. They aimed
these lights at the podium, dignitaries' table and a giant American
flag that hung from the back of the stage. "We ran all the mics for
the rally," says Ferraro, "and the press box came out of our sound board,
so the audio had to be good. We also had to 'fly' all our sound in the
audience area, because the crowd was so big."
Two hours before
the candidate arrived, the entire Megacenter was evacuated so the Secret
Service could sweep the hall for security purposes. "A Bush advance
team came in several days ahead of the event," says Hobbs, "and even
did background checks on some of our staff members. It was odd having
limited access to areas of the resort that the Secret Service had shut
down temporarily for security."
quite as complicated when Francis Cardinal George came out to address
priests from the Chicago Archdiocese last year, but according to Hobbs
the Cardinal's visit was more work. "The difference was that Bush was
only here for one day...in and out. But the Cardinal's meetings ran
over a long weekend and involved a lot of different meetings. We were
constantly moving equipment from room to room over the four-day event."
United Visual was on hand to provide sound, projection and stage lighting
for a dining room and theater set up in the Megacenter, as well as sound
and projection in several smaller meeting rooms.
Of course, Pheasant
Run also hosts any number of smaller meetings and conferences. While
the resort is in the business of hospitality, it's United's job to ensure
that the technical side of meetings it hosts run smoothly, so that every
guest will have time for a dip in the pool or a round of golf before
the day comes to a close.