Smart Chat: Chandra Allison on Positive Disruption

headshot of chandra allison wearing blue blazer
  • Senior Vice President of Strategy for Growth, Meetings, Conventions and Exhibitions
  • Oak View Group

How does one make an impact on an already well-established industry? Whatever it is, you better make sure it turns heads—and keeps them looking. Demanding attention seems to be the goal of Oak View Group (OVG), a development and investment company for sports and live entertainment that says it wants to make a “positive disruption” in the industry.

The company recently hired Chandra Allison, who will head the company’s $3 billion Las Vegas entertainment district, slated to open in 2026. Allison is a Las Vegas veteran, having worked with The Venetian Resort Las Vegas for the last 24 years. We asked her about her thoughts on her new position, the future of the meetings and events industry, and more.

What does “positive disruption” mean?

Tim Leiweke [owner of Oak View Group] has a vision to disrupt, develop and deliver the world’s best venues and experiences. We’ve built four arenas in major markets and we’ve expanded our convention center management across North America and there’s more coming.

Read MoreOak View Group Is Leaving a Trail of Partnerships

We’re committed to collaborating with our clients and our partners to provide first-class experiences and helping our customers think differently about their meeting and attendee experience or on the sports and arena side. We’re growing like crazy and I think that’s where you going to see us make this amazing, positive disruption to the status quo of live entertainment and live meetings.

You said you believe in the foresight of where the industry could/should be in 10 years. Where is that?

We’re developing, managing and delivering these world-class venues and experiences, and have put together this comprehensive suite of services, so that we can custom tailor our offerings to our clients and all these different destinations and venues. I think the Las Vegas project is going to be this entertainment district like no other.

“If you’re coming into the meetings industry, you have to have a passion to serve.”          

When you look at all our other different venues and convention centers, we’re really looking to change the way meeting planners think about going into destinations and [with] all the different suites and services we offer, I think we’re really best suited to tailor those experiences for the customer’s needs.

What will the new Vegas project bring to meeting profs?

There are clients seeking high-end, quality experiences over quantity in Las Vegas. I believe that client is underserved, and this project is going to serve that need.

Read MoreRamsay’s Kitchen Opens at Harrah’s Las Vegas

We’re going to have intimate high-end luxury services, meeting spaces that will “wow” on a small scale but also non-traditional spaces, such as an arena, a live entertainment venue like nothing else in the United States, some outdoor spaces and world-class F&B all within our property. But again, on a smaller intimate scale that’s all about quality over quantity.

What excites you about this new venture?

I’m passionate about meetings, conventions and exhibitions. I think this company is growing and has amazing passion to change hospitality, the meetings industry and the live entertainment industry through innovative thinking and growing partnerships, helping tailor our services to meet our customer’s needs. [OVG] has amazing partnerships and assets, and for that reason it made me want to be a part of this team.

Meetings, conventions and exhibitions are a major economic driver of any community that hosts them. It just really made me excited when I saw all the growth opportunity that OVG was expanding into to really grow those economic drivers within communities.

What advice would you give to new meeting professionals?

If you’re coming into the meetings industry you have to have a passion to serve. We’re here to create amazing experiences for clients and attendees, and if you don’t have that passion to serve others and to really get excited about making experiences come to life, maybe the meetings industry is not for you.

Live entertainment and meetings are so personal, and each individual attendee is looking for something different out of their experience and if you don’t have that desire to serve and think creatively, maybe it’s not the right industry, but if you do, it’s an overwhelming, amazing network of people that have a lot of passion for what we do. Once you get in, it’s hard to get out. So, if you have that passion to want to make people’s dreams and experiences come to life, I think it’s an amazing industry to be in.

This article appears in the December 2022 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.

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