Meet Our Member – Vegas Style

Meet Our Member

Written by Cara O'Neill

Cara O’Neill is a Project Manager at GCG Event Partners where she has happily set up shop for over 15 years. Her professional background may be in the meeting & event industry; however, she enjoys the multi-tasking involved in her day-to-day operations contributing to marketing GCG and the many services it provides.

February 28, 2017

We realize and appreciate the incredible talent we have pooled together in our nationwide network of meeting professionals. Because of this, I thought it would be interesting to showcase some of that expertise in a new blog series entitled “Meet Our Member”.  I hope that by sharing this information, you are provided with insight into what our members experience working in the meeting and event management industry.

To begin, I thought we’d venture out west and even though the old saying goes, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, in this case we’re going to share! I’ve had the privilege of working with this incredible meeting professional since 2007 and a few years ago, while visiting Vegas, I was fortunate to meet her in person. She’s a skilled and experienced pro who continuously ensures the success of the meetings and events she manages.

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Kathy. 

Having lived in Las Vegas all your life, what do you enjoy most about the area?

I enjoy so many things about it, let’s start with the weather. Although it’s extremely hot for several months during the year, I remind people that the airport, transportation vehicles, hotels, restaurants and theaters are all air-conditioned, so unless they plan on staying outdoors the entire time they are here, they will not suffer from the heat. Also, I love the entertainment here which is coupled by the fact that we live in a town that is open 24 hours a day! You can virtually go shopping or do whatever you want whenever you want. I’ve traveled the world and there are many places that roll-up the carpet at dusk and you’re left waiting for the next day for businesses to reopen.

 How long have you been working in the meetings and events industry and what types of meetings do you manage most?

I’ve worked in this industry for over 25 years and mostly work within the medical, government and entertainment sectors of this industry.

How have you seen the meetings and events industry change in Las Vegas in the last decade?

So many businesses and destination management companies have moved here. Sometimes it can be difficult to stand out from the pack when there are so many entities here all doing the same thing. I rely on my solid reputation working with the venues I repeatedly manage events in and the clients I assist at those events.

What are your favorite types of onsite management assignments? Full-scope, registration, meet & greets …. Etc?

Honestly, I love working in all of those capacities, but if I have to pick one, I would say managing registration for events. Here I am afforded the opportunity to greet the participants and serve as the first impression of the event they’re attending. The registration process can be fast and furious but I enjoy working in that frenzy, offering a friendly greeting and ensuring the guests feel welcomed and have all the information they need.

What do you enjoy most about being an on-site meeting professional?

I enjoy meeting and working for so many different people from all over the world.  I love being on “Team xxx” for that day, or that week. I like the idea that as a team of onsite professionals, we’re working together for a common goal which is a successful event. I take pride in knowing that the principals can go about doing what they need to do and I can take care of the minutia details. Many times, event planners arrive on-site and don’t have an opportunity to enjoy their event because they’re so busy running around completing tasks. It’s when they come to understand that they can delegate and entrust those tasks to me, that makes me realize I really enjoy doing what I do!

What is one of your biggest challenges when hired to provide on-site meeting assistance?

I would say there has to be an element of sensitivity with respect to recognizing who is “in charge” when providing on-site assistance. I try to be mindful that I have been hired to assist the client and not step on any toes. I want the client to be reassured that my purpose is to make their lives easier, make their event run smoother and make them look like a Rockstar to their company and/or end-client. I have found when working with younger clients, they think it will make them look bad if I assist them with doing their job. As a result, sometimes I feel I’m not utilized as much as I could be. I wish I could tell them “I’m here to be as helpful to you as I can be.”

Would you recommend this career path to others?

Yes, but there’s definitely a certain type of person who is best suited for this type of work. One needs to be energetic and positive, be willing and able to follow instruction and take direction, yet be capable of thinking on their feet and making decisions on the fly. One needs to be resourceful and “tuck and roll” when plans change on a dime. I would venture to say that a good sense of humor comes in handy too!

What was the best piece of advice someone working in this industry offered to you that you’ve found helpful throughout your career?

I would say it’s to show up for an event like a Girl Scout and “always be prepared”.  I like to travel with my rolling box which is my “office on wheels”.  Many times, while working on-site with a client, they will have forgotten little things like packing tape or scissors. In my traveling office, I always carry office supplies and it sure has come in handy many times.

What is the best piece of advice you would offer to someone new to the meetings and events industry?

I would advise them to make sure that everything that needs to get done is done before they leave an event. If they are scheduled to depart an event at a certain time but the client is still running around trying to finish things, they should offer to stay onsite and help. My motto is “no one gets left behind at an event”.  I’ve worked many an event where there have been 3 or 4 of us hired to assist the client and the event has run over. I’ll still be working to assist the client with wrapping up and another person will have her purse in hand, heading towards the door.  I would also recommend that you always try your best to be useful and keep busy. Don’t stand around waiting to be told what to do. Be proactive and discuss beforehand with your client what it is that you can do to assist them.

Outside of the demands your professional life, what are your hobbies and interests?  

I’m a singer (technically I could be called a professional because I’ve been paid to do it for many years).  I also work in TV production where I’m hired to oversee that the “talent” is where they are supposed to be at awards broadcast or TV show.  I enjoy gardening, researching genealogy and playing with my 2 grandsons and my 3 dogs. Lastly, I love to cook and my husband LOVES that I love to cook.

If you would like learn more from Kathy, please let me know. I’d be happy to connect you.

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  1. Stephanie A. Watson

    Great article

    • Cara O'Neill

      Thanks Stephanie!

  2. Jeri Swain

    Kathy is a trusted colleague and great to partner with on any event!

    • Cara O'Neill

      Agreed, Jeri!


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