Danielle Ottman wants you to think beyond football when you see U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The sales manager for the up-and-coming sports facility, which is managed by SMG, has been telling meeting and event professionals about the site’s capabilities for months.

“We’re trying to sell something that doesn’t really exist yet,” she explains. “That’s what I found is a real challenge. You’re selling them on a dream.”

Ottman meets with clients at the Vikings’ Preview Center and uses drawings, renderings and schematics to help them see the stadium’s potential for their events. Because the Vikings only use the stadium for about 10 games per year, all other dates are open to everything from corporate meetings, galas, weddings and proms to consumer events, concerts and sporting events.

The space accommodates up to eight simultaneous events. In addition to the concourse and exterior plaza, there are six luxury clubhouses that vary in size from 9,500 to 20,000 square feet. “We also have the field,” Ottman says. “If you want to have a party for 70,000 people, we can accommodate that right down on the turf.”

A longtime Minnesotan who grew up in Cottage Grove and graduated with a degree in marketing from Winona State University, Ottman began her career selling booths for the Women’s Expo. That led to a management position in which Ottman planned events, booked speakers and acted as a liaison for exhibitors. She loved the hands-on aspect of the industry and continued to work in a sales, marketing and event planning capacity for home and garden as well as food and wine events.

“I think that sales isn’t so much techniques you can learn from a book, but how you connect with people,” she says. “I enjoy talking to people and finding out about their needs and how I can help them out with that. It’s so fulfilling to see them achieve success and to know that I was a small part of it.”

What appealed to her about the sales manager position was the opportunity to work on a wide variety of events, especially the Super Bowl LII in 2018 and the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2019. Being on the promotion side of events for so long gave her the insight to serve clients better now that she’s on the venue side. “I anticipate what people need and what amenities are important to them,” she says.

Ottman’s goal is to see repeat customers booking event space at the stadium. She also hopes to be a careerlong team player for SMG. “To have the opportunity to work at a state-of-theart facility that’s going to get so much national coverage in the coming years is an honor,” she says. “I just want to make sure that everyone who comes into the stadium has a fantastic experience.”

As CEO of Miami-based Loni Paige Events, Loni Paige has launched and managed experiential campaigns for high-profile brands such as Bacardi, vitaminwater, T-Mobile, American Express and Target. While many people used quarantine cocktailing as a coping mechanism during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the bars and everyone’s favorite mixologists who needed their own shot of help. Paige set out to do her part by creating Mixology Mixer

 

League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 

 

Event planning and experience design go hand in hand. Just ask Maria Moyano, experience designer for the Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC), based in NYC. “I think that everything is an event. You can go have coffee, and that’s an event. Everything is also an experience. You feel happy, and that’s an experience. It’s about what you are trying to get out of the event—and then how does an experience elevate it,” says Moyano.