Event Staffing Solutions for a Special Event That Gets Results

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When it comes to event staffing, we have been around the block once or twice. From working with household names to international businesses and plucky local start-ups, we have seen it all. Product launches for a shoestring technology business, samplings at local supermarkets, brand launches to give away cars, concerts and movie premiers. We’re probably in a position to claim a certain level of expertise.

We have gathered staffing expertise in so many broad categories that we could write a blog on each one – and sometimes we do. When someone asked us for a team of bartenders to staff their bar for a 1920’s style product release for 1000 people, we knew that someone who knows how to pour a beer and a vodka lime and tonic, isn’t going to be good enough. We look at what’s expected, and find staff that can get the job done, by defining the job in the first place.
Can you pour an Old-Fashioned? What are the ingredients? What sort of garnish would you use?
What about a Cosmopolitan?
How do you handle a busy cash bar?
What do you say to a drunk patron?
These are just a few of the questions that bartending staff who know what they’re doing will be able to answer easily.
This is just one example of how event staffing can be done well, and it’s an opportunity – if missed or underestimated – to do it poorly. Finding someone who fits a general overview of the role, isn’t the same as finding a team of staff that can get the job done brilliantly.
Perhaps wait staff are the most underestimated.
Aside from having to know how to carry plates (far more complicated than you think) wait staff also need to be able to explain various dishes and interact with the public. Even at a cocktail function, when walking around with a tray of food a good waiter or waitress should be able to explain exactly what they are holding, and how it was made. They should also be able to handle questions like, “is this salty?”
“This hasn’t got gluten in it does it?”
“I’m allergic to peanuts, was this cooked near peanuts?”
Promotional staff are often the reason that an event fails to deliver at optimum levels. We discovered the gap in staffing early on, with a lack of product knowledge, or experience in the specific event usually being the reason for less than stellar results. The staff weren’t to blame, and the client certainly wasn’t – we needed to hold ourselves to a higher standard. So we began increasing the number of requirements we had for special events, from increasing product knowledge requirements to an appreciation of the intricacies of a client’s business. We put planning processes in place and had staff go through a testing protocol to ensure everyone was up to standard.
Security and valet services are another event staffing area that is often underestimated, because security guards are licensed and valets are experienced. However, with both, an understanding by the staff of the expectations involved is critical. Have security staff worked in a, “hands off,” fashion before? Meaning, are the staff experienced in negotiating an elegant removal of a guest from a location, without creating a fuss? At a black-tie function when a guest becomes intoxicated, and it is the host’s legal responsibility to remove them from the premises, a good security guard is worth their weight in gold. Likewise, the valet who has to collect a car urgently due to a guest having an emergency, and manages to do so without an issue can create a feeling of gratitude in that guest, which echoes through to the host.
Special event staffing is a discipline reliant on knowledge, and a commitment to top performance. Event staff at PUSH Agency are held to a high level of performance, and we hold ourselves to that level also. Staff are the reason that events succeed and fail, and event staffing, when looked at in this fashion, becomes crucial, especially when you consider how much money is being invested in the event, by a business that expects results.

Modeling Agencies and Promotional Talent Businesses Come of Age

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Modeling agencies and talent management businesses have changed a lot since the industry was first created. While most industries can blame their evolution on economic shifts, and technological changes, modelling and promotional talent management has remained relatively static, for one simple fact – the product hasn’t changed.

In other industries, there have been significant or limited changes to the product or means of distribution. Even seemingly slow-moving businesses such as fresh produce sales has been revolutionized through advanced distribution methods and automated ordering systems. Far more obvious is the impact that has been made in industries that have experienced a complete overhaul of their product, such as the music industry and book publishers. Modelling agencies and promotional talent businesses, on the other hand, have not experienced anything quite so significant. Hiring humans to promote a product is arguably the most effective and direct means of engagement, but humans are the same as they have been for countless centuries. Additionally, there have been no significant improvements in how to send humans from one place to another, as Star Trek style transportation systems have not yet been invented. This has meant that modelling businesses have, from the outside, remained almost exactly the same as they have been for decades. Sure, there have been some changes including more effective communication methods – or at least more communication methods – like text messaging, email and social media, but generally speaking the product and the means of delivering the product have been limited by the disappointing lack of robotic humanoids and a frustrating shortfall of flying cars.
So where is the significant change?
While other industries have been focusing their communication improvements on technology, people-based industries such as recruitment agencies, promotional modelling businesses and modelling agencies have gone in completely the opposite direction. Focusing on increasing traditional communication, and using technology to empower that type of communication.
At PUSH Agency, we have the largest database of promotional talent in North America. We have built that up as a result of hard work and patient development, and are proud to be leading the industry. However, we have had to be more flexible than we thought in terms of the types of communication we have with the talent we rely on as a business. It wasn’t long ago that everyone thought we would simply be communicating via text, and that traditional phone calls would go by the wayside. We found that to be true…except when it isn’t. Blanket rules don’t apply when you are dealing with a significant cross-section of the population. We have talent who are from a wide range of social groups, varied ages and locations. Even within each of those demographics, we can’t determine exactly how a certain subgroup will respond to a specific type of communication. This means that if we are only communicating in one way, then we are inhibiting our ability to use our entire database effectively because even if there are a small amount of people who don’t respond well to a certain type of communication – text messaging for example– then we, if only using text messaging, cannot effectively engage with those people. In other words, if we only email our database, there will always be a percentage of our database that will never respond.
So, we have had to become not more specific in our communication but far broader and more flexible. As technology has evolved, we have had to embrace every part of it because the value we add to our clients is access to the best promotional talent in the country, and we need to make sure we are accessing it to the best of our ability. So, we have become a cutting-edge, old school, high-tech, phone-based business. We have an in-house development team who created an incredibly complex database and engagement platform, and who continues to improve it every day. And we have phones – actual phones that are plugged into the wall – that we use when needs be.
As an example (and this will serve to give nightmares to those of you who enjoy a steady and monotonous work day) many of our engagements are in regional areas, where there isn’t a significant amount of promotional talent but where some of our clients have a steady base of customers, and an opportunity to expand that base through promotional activities. We almost always have a good amount of PUSH Agency talent in the area, but when the event is of a significant enough size, we must sometimes rely on and uncomfortably high percentage of those people. Our fancy database is designed to pair with our project management tool, and as a result we can see potential staff shortfalls before they occur. If this should happen, it’s our job to find a way to fill the gaps and put contingency plans in place should people pull out at the last minute. Our team then jumps on the phone to anyone who hasn’t responded, or to those who were uncertain as to their availability. We then ask our promotional talent who have accepted the job if they know anyone, have any friends, or of heard of anyone who is with other modelling agencies who may be interested in the event. Then, we ask everyone to put a shout out on all their social media channels, and we do the same. In addition, we also email blast neighboring areas from our database, and text message anyone who has potential to be in the area. Modelling agencies used to make a phone call, book the talent and then get on with the rest of their lives. Now, it’s our job to make sure we can live up to the highest of expectations, and deliver the best possible talent no matter where they are, or how they communicate. Our database gives us the opportunity to deliver what other modelling agencies and promotional businesses cannot – exceptional talent we already know. But it’s always important to have a fallback position, and our ethos is that we do whatever it takes to make sure events and promotions go off without a hitch, with the best talent, and service so good that no client could expect it.

PUSH at the NCAA Final Four… or The Day We Met Charles Barkley

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We don’t always do crazy events. Sometimes, we like to get involved with more low-key occasions, like this –

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The NCAA Final Four Music Festival is a pleasant and quiet way to spend a few days. Rising, relatively unknown talent, like Aerosmith, Blink 182, Chainsmokers and Macklemore entertained a small but well-behaved crowd of 15,000.

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PUSH Ambassadors took care of the VIPs, Including NCAA players and coaches, along with their families and some guy called Charles Barkley. That’s Sir Charles frickin’ Barkley, who transformed the role of power forward and retired the number 34 more times than the Suns have won championships. Unfortunately.

For three days the music was loud, and Gonzaga, South Carolina, Oregon and North Carolina all held out hopes of claiming the championship on the 3rd of April. Keith Urban set alight Friday night and Arizona was the centre of the basketball universe as the best teams in the country battled for the richest prize in college ball and 15000 people battled to scream the loudest when Steven Tyler started belting out ‘Livin on the Edge.’

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March Madness is about more than just basketball. It’s a time when the entire world is watching the future of the sport and for three days, the focus was on Pheoenix, Arizona, where the North Carolina Tar Heels refused the Gonzaga Bulldogs their fairytale and won the championship for the first time…since 2009. The party was epic and the teams lived up to everyone’s expectations. Along with the stars, the crowds and the limelight, combined with a few Washington tears, there was also a sense that the future of basketball was bright. Also, and most importantly, we got to meet Charles Barkley.

 

Be Adaptable: The Art of Versatility

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In continuation of our discussions on the seven core values that keep the PUSH Agency running smoothly each day, we had a chat with Chris McDaniel, tactics specialist and resident “Jack-of-all-Trades” around here. Chris exemplifies our “Be Adaptable” value perfectly.

In his seven-year tenure at our agency, Chris has been able to flow with his ever-evolving role without missing a beat. Originally he was hired only to do graphic design, which he certainly executes with skill. However, Chris immediately showed an inherent adaptability and desire to be of value in ways beyond his defined role. If he saw a problem that needed solving or a role to be filled, he was quick to jump in and tackle it with the right solution.

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“As needs arose, I have always been happy to take on different tasks,” Chris said. “For example, I love that I have become a one-stop-shop for our clients who have print needs. We didn’t have sales or logistics positions in place, but it seemed like both were needed. I embraced the opportunity to learn some new tricks and as a result we’re now able to provide better service to our customers.”

In another fantastic example of being adaptable, Chris, who had never produced a single video prior to joining the PUSH team, took his “anything you can throw at me, I can do” attitude to a new level and is now pivotal in the creation of our demo training videos for clients. Add another feather to his growing cap.

Given his history with PUSH, Chris has a unique perspective on the company culture because he remembers a time before the core values were implemented. With the core values now in practice, to him, it’s like a completely different company. People are hired not only for having the right skill set but also for their fit within the company culture.

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“Now, everyone truly wants to be here and because their personalities are really in line with our core values, we’re all on the same page and working as a team toward a common goal,” he said. “It makes it a pleasure to come to work.”

In a sentiment echoed by many here at PUSH, Chris also noted that being adaptable at work has spilled into life beyond the office. He’s always able to step outside of the emotion of a situation, figure out what needs to be done and shift gears to make it happen.

They say the only thing constant is change; be adaptable and you stand a much better chance of being successful.

CES – Robots, Wallpaper TV’s & Smart Everything!

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One of our core values is to ‘Be Zen.’Usually, this means being calm under pressure, and adapting to unexpected circumstances as and when they arise. This requires balance, self-awareness and the ability to calmly move from one task to another.

Then, there’s the consumer electronic show, or as you may know it, CES. Held in Las Vegas, Nevada each January, CES attracts the largest brands, the most innovative technology businesses, and a ridiculous amount of people who love incredible gadgets. It’s a chance for businesses to showcase their wares and demonstrate how forward thinking and revolutionary their latest products will be.

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Our job was to assist legendary electronics brand LG by presenting extraordinarily advanced technology to a highly sophisticated audience of thousands. Simple.

An event of this size is more of a logistical activation than traditional assignments. First, we assigned responsibility to our two most experienced project managers, who would coordinate the training, rostering and management of the 110 PUSH team members required…that’s required each day. That’s 440 total shifts over a four day period, and they all needed to be up-skilled in technology, some of which has only existed in theory until LG decided to unleash it on the world.

Planning, Planning, Planning

Our robust project management structures are nothing without efficient humans to ensure they are adhered to. Our project management team in Arizona, worked with our leadership group to create rigorous structures, combined with limitless fail-safes to ensure the best chance of a perfect outcome. Then, just when they thought their work was done, we told the projects team they had to go to Las Vegas and oversee the activation- because trips to America’s tourist mecca, with free tickets to the largest electronics trade show in the world, are just a few of the painful requirements of working for PUSH.

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Training, Training, Training

LG brought a massive amount of products to CES, and every one of our team had to understand how each product worked, and why it worked that way. This included The Hub Robot, which uses Amazon’s Alexa and connects with appliances around your home. Speaking of smart, LG’s smart home solutions were amazing – from the smart fridge that becomes transparent when knocked on, to the oven that learns your recipes and manages the cooking process, and the vacuum cleaner with a built-in video camera that doubles as a security guard.

The highlight, however, was the ridiculously thin, extraordinarily light and generally awesome, SIGNATURE OLED TV W – the W stands for wallpaper. This television attaches to the wall via magnets and uses a soundbar to produce an experience that will redefine the televisions. Or, as Richard Lawler, the senior editor at CES put it when awarding the best TV product to LG –

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LG’s flagship OLED is our Best TV winner for the third consecutive CES. Even as the technology is popping up across other brands, as and LCDs continue to improve, this is still the best display we’ve seen during this show. Shifting its smarts and inputs to its Dolby Atmos soundbar enabled the “wallpaper-thin” design that makes it seem more like a window into another world than any TV we’ve seen before. With that, LG once again remains a step ahead of the competition. — Richard Lawler, senior editor.”

The engagement was an unmitigated success, with LG being the deserved focal point, and PUSH assisting through our project management team pulling out all the stops, and the promotional staff going above and beyond. There were a few standout performers who deserve additional recognition –

Edgar, who came in early and stayed late, while maintaining his flexibility. This was an incredibly strenuous engagement, and Edgar’s and professionalism made him an invaluable member of the team.

Viviana, took on the mantle of brand ambassador for LG and made it her own. Her trainers pointed out how committed she was to representing the brand, and making sure she understood every facet of complex products.

Be Better: Excellence is not optional

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As The PUSH Agency has evolved, we’ve always looked for ways to improve, whether it’s our customer experience, service offerings, software, or the vibe of our office. We believe striving for continual improvement leads to growth, and that’s why one of our core values is “Be Better.”

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Ashlee Fisher, accounting specialist at PUSH, has been with the company for three years, serving in several different roles ––and each transition has given her the opportunity to “be better” as an individual and contribute to the betterment of the team. We chatted with Ashlee about what it means to her to be better and how keeping this core value top of mind has helped her blossom in her various positions.

“One of the greatest things about the culture here at PUSH is that Jonathan, our CEO, leads by example,” Ashlee said. “We see him working every day to be better, continuously looking for ways to improve upon the day before, and it trickles down. We can’t help but be inspired.”

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And this is key. When the leadership exemplifies the core values, it helps lift the entire team and instill the company culture until it becomes second nature to all involved. When all are brought into the core values, everyone holds each other accountable.

As Ashlee put it, “we all feel comfortable putting each other in check when needed.” Everyone has moments when they’re challenged but the support our team is able to offer one another on a daily basis helps us all build each other up and ensure we’re all giving our best effort every single day. It becomes something we don’t even have to think about.

Be Better – it’s a way of life here at PUSH. As the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” and we believe when all are striving to be better, we all grow.

Culture Breeds Growth

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A message from our CEO, Jonathan Sacks

At PUSH, our company culture forms the basis of everything we do; from the way we interact with clients, to how we work with our diverse regional teams, right through to what is acceptable behavior in the office.

You see, to us, culture is more than just our dog park, or monthly rockstar awards; it’s a series of values that dictate the way we operate, and why we do what we do. We will be talking more about those values in future articles, but in the meantime, I wanted to discuss the importance of defining a culture to us, and what we have experienced as a result.

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Like most businesses, we didn’t start out with clearly designed culture. To a certain extent, a company’s culture is dictated by those within the organization itself, and something I’ve learned is the importance of owners and managers being the guardians of that culture, and adhering to something larger than themselves through apportioning responsibility to the business. Put another way, at Push, we have a way of doing things, and it’s my job as the primary guardian of the business, to ensure that actions taken by everyone in the organization, reflect our values and culture. That means, empowering managers to make decisions based on what PUSH-as a hypothetical entity-would do. In a sense, the business itself has become a personification for how we should act, and interact with each other, our clients and our prospects; our look and feel, if you like.

The best example I can offer is the way we choose new staff members. In the beginning, recruitment was fairly reactive; we would hire based on requirement, and whoever ticked most of the boxes was offered a job. The thing is, while our retention rate was good, we found ourselves in a position where we were ending up with people that ticked most of the boxes, but not all of them. For example, we would hire people who could technically do a role, but weren’t proactive, and didn’t like to take the initiative – which is very important to us. Now, we can interview based on this, but asking questions like that flat out, just encourages candidates to embellish facts.

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The answer lay in our company culture. Instead of asking more questions, we told the story of PUSH; from its origins, through to how we became the largest supplier of promotional talent in North America. Through this narrative, we were demonstrating who could thrive in our environment, and equally, those who would be better served elsewhere.  We encouraged candidates to talk about how they would see themselves in an environment like ours – highly energetic, diverse and perhaps at times annoyingly loud. We have heaps of fun in the office, but there is a lot of pressure, which comes as a result of each person setting high expectations for themselves and others.

When interviewing based on culture, we discovered that candidates would eliminate themselves, if not literally, it will become apparent quickly who was excited about working in a culture like ours, and who would become frustrated.

We have echoed this approach through to other parts of our business, allowing the core narrative to be the dominant force in promotion, internal rewards, and our management ethos.

A big part of our success in establishing our culture has been clarity around what it is. Paying attention to who we are, and, importantly, who we aspire to be, has been crucial as we continue to develop and grow. Reaching the point where we could confidently ask the question, “is this who we are?” made decision-making far easier, almost as if there is another person in the room, reminding us of our original vision.

While our culture will continue to develop, and we will remain fluid as it does, our fundamental values and vision will remain the same. Through defining, and understanding who we are, we have put ourselves in a position where we can move more quickly, do more things properly, and have more fun.

Love in the Face of Evil

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Few evils exist in the world that require our urgent attention as much as the exploitation of children. HEAL International is a non-profit organization founded to protect trafficked and vulnerable children through empowerment and health programs. These children get to see themselves as they truly are – worth loving.

HEAL’s work transforms lives, and they don’t only work to rescue, but also create new beginnings for victims of sexual trafficking. This is vital work, as many girls have had not only their self esteem, but the awareness of their own humanity taken from them. This is not glamorous or headline grabbing; in fact, for both the workers and the girls it’s often draining, arduous and frustrating – but that’s the importance of it. Returning children back to the world, and helping them realise that in spite of all the terrible things they’ve experienced, there are those of us who care enough to help, with no expectation of receiving praise, but because they deserve someone to be there for them, to care for them, and to remind them that they matter. HEAL does this work, not because it makes them heroes, but because it’s the right thing to do.

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PUSH for Love – was founded by the Push Agency to promote joy.. It’s ethos is simple; in order to do good, we must educate and change minds, we need to bring in other members of the business community, raise money for the right charities and continue the conversation.

Evil thrives when nobody talks about it. Inspired by the work HEAL is doing in Arizona and East Africa, PUSH for Love answered with a giant YES. “Yes, we will speak up!” “Yes, we will do something for these children!”

At a stunning residence on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, PUSH for Love, hosted an event to introduce people to HEAL. True to form, the event was a celebration of joy, and an open conversation. Live music, a casino night and a silent auction were just some of the highlights. Throughout the night there were heartfelt reminders as to why we were joining together; to give children who have been sexually trafficked, a bright future. HEAL gives these children love, empowerment, and safety to them. Without these services, the future looks like more of their past — atrocities most people can’t imagine..

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But it wasn’t only a conversation, the wonderful people who attended the holiday soiree, put their money where their outrage was, and as a group, we raised $10,000 – enough to fund the entire HEAL program.

It’s just a start – nowhere close to being enough. Those who donated contributed more than money – they told the victims that they are not forgotten, and that organizations like HEAL and PUSH for LOVE won’t stop until slavery and the exploitation of children are banished to the backpages of history.

If you would like to contribute, please get in touch with us, or visit http://www.healinternational.org/

Jameson Relies on Luck of the Irish and PUSH Agency

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Jameson Irish Whiskey loves a good party, and the Jameson Bartender’s Ball is the hottest ticket in…well, a lot of towns. Those lucky enough to attend are treated to live music, and an open bar packed to the brim with incredible Jameson Premiums. To call the ball a party would be like calling the ocean a swimming pool. It’s big, okay?

Attendees are stars of the bars. Servers, hosts, managers and bartenders – it’s a way for Jameson to say thank you to those who share their product with the world.

Legacy Marketing was given the responsibility of making this event epic – and not just once, but dozens of times; the ball goes on tour, with one or two events every week from October through December across the United States.

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That’s where PUSH comes in; who else do you turn to when you need incredible brand ambassadors across a crazy massive geography? With locations as diverse as Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Chicago, Rochester, Houston, Nashville, Dallas and Miami to name a few, we made the most of having the largest database of talent in North America.

Thankfully, there’s more to our database than just size; we were able to identify the most experienced – from taking coats and checking people in, to tending bar for bartenders (which is like serving a meal to a chef) we created a duplicatable process for each location, with the help of some incredible talent. Rockstars include – Leslie SNikki CVanessa R

It’s fair to say the client seemed pretty happy:

“The Promotional Models have been amazing, and The PUSH Agency has been so helpful!”

And so did the PUSH team:

“Everyone loved the event, and we interacted with hundreds of people.” -Nikki C

It’s a challenging activation, but heaps of fun and when you’re working with a brand like Jameson, and an agency as incredible as Legacy Marketing, you know you’re in good company.

 

VIP Nation and PUSH Agency Rock Out on the Guns ‘N Roses Tour

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group-1 Going to a Guns N’ Roses concert is one of those incredible experiences that’s hard to improve on, unless you book through our client, vipnation.com.

VIP Nation takes seeing one of the greatest live acts of all time, and throws in entry to a VIP lounge, priority access and the opportunity to get a photo taken on stage. It’s like a chocolate cake with chocolate chips covered in chocolate icing, inside a chocolate house.

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When VIP Nation started looking for experienced concierges to assist guests and add to the experience, they knew just where to go. In various cities including Philadelphia, San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix, New Orleans and Orlando, PUSH Brand Ambassadors had the arduous task of hanging out with concertgoers, and watching Guns N’ Roses. Because of this challenging trade-off between having fun and working, combined with the likelihood of coming into contact with rock stars, we needed to find levelheaded, experienced and effective brand ambassadors. Luckily, the clever people who designed our database, knew that we needed to know more than what someone look like – we need to understand their motivations, how they behaved, and details about their previous experience. As a result we identified over 60 incredible brand ambassadors who were pumped to be part of such an incredible event.

They understood that this was not only a fun job, but also a lot of responsibility – as the face of VIP, PUSH talent had to make sure that this was a night to remember, not only for the concert but also for the experience, before during and after. The team took this responsibility seriously, and based on feedback from the client, attendees, and our team of experienced booking agents,​ the models more than surpassed expectation.

Most importantly, the concert was a huge success and Axl, Slash and Duff have still got it!