We interview Tao Group Marketing Manager, Mike Snedegar, as he discusses the celebrity trends in Las Vegas nightlife, and describes how celebrities are as close personal friends.
Jack Colton: What first began your career in Las Vegas nightlife?
Mike Snedegar: My career in Vegas nightlife began in 2002 when Derek Silberstein (now with AMG) hired me to be a busboy at The foundation Room at Mandalay Bay. At that Time foundation Room was THE SPOT, very exclusive and is still a great venue. I worked in the restaurant mainly and on weekends they would pull me over to clean up the lounge which was packed on Fri and Sat nights, It sounds silly but I really loved it, at that time I had been in Vegas for a year – working horrible jobs, making no money, now I was hustling for sidetips and seeing Celebs non stop. Loved it. At Foundation Room they started doing a Monday night which would be open to the public, a club night, Godspeed. Michael Fuller did this night, along with Derek , Justin Fralick, and Jason Hancock. I was a busboy on this night, and that is where I met Mike Fuller. Mike took me under his wing and started giving me side projects outside of work, training me. It was because of Fuller that I progressed, I was then promoted to VIP host on Mondays, and then Head Host. I stayed there for 4 years. I followed Fuller and Silberstein to ICE Nightclub in 2004, where I worked for the amazing Neil Moffit and at that time, Godskitchen. While doing VIP Hosting ICE and foundation Room at the same time, I started writing a nightlife column for 944 magazine. I was asked to write an editorial piece by 944 on newcomer to town, Jason Strauss, Owner of TAO. After spending some time with Jason, and learning what he was about, and what he was going to bring to Vegas, I Knew where I wanted to go next. I left both VIP hosting jobs and took a paycut, to become Jason’s Asst in 2005. Taking 2 steps back to move forward over time in a new career was one of the best moves I ever made. VIP Hosting was a great experience but it wasn’t for me in the long run. From there I evolved and learned more than I ever could have imagined, going from Asst to Marketing, to events, to forming what is now the Entertainment Marketing Dept at TAO Group.My Main focus now is celebrity relations & events, Pr and Marketing.
Jack Colton: You are infamously friends with many a celebrity. How do these relationships usually begin, and why do you feel you are able to break the protective wall so many high profile people tend to build around themselves?
Mike Snedegar: I suppose its because I have been lucky to meet people in the beginning stages of their careers and I treat them the same then as I do now, and establishing trust is key. One of the best examples is Perez Hilton. I met Perez in 2005 when his name was Mario. He was a blogger with a funny site that I loved called pagesixsixsix.com. I reached by email to say I loved his site and he told me he was coming to Vegas and we should hang out. That’s how we met, Mario also happened to know my new Vegas friend who at that time had just moved here – Abby Tagnelia (Now the Editor of Vegas Magazine) and the 3 of us went out one night. From there we became friends and I watched as his career exploded. All of my best relationships have similar stories like that, not just with Celebrities, with publicists, agents, managers as well. People want to work with people they know and trust, and you build that over time by putting work into getting to know someone, not just for what they can do for you.
Jack Colton: How often do celebrities that are booked to host your parties become truly hands on in the planning process? And, when it happens, what all do they contribute to the process?
Mike Snedegar: If its someone that ive worked with for years then I 100% involve them and we plan everything out , unless theres a surprise element of course. Contributions depend on the person but im always open to having their input if it makes them happier.
Jack Colton: Many people who are planning their Las Vegas nightlife will often want to go to a nightclub that a particular celebrity was seen at, and this is obviously a part of why they were booked in the first place. How much of this after the party marketing is planned, accidental, or just the nature of the beast?
Mike Snedegar: Its case by case, but ofcourse I know when im planning someones bachelor/ bachelorette or birthday party that depending on how much press is covering that it will influence people in other states or even countries to do theirs with us too. Having Kim Kardashians Birthday televised 2 years in a row at TAO on her TV Show, and that show being repeated constantly on E you cant put a number or figure on that, its endless the benefits and influence.
Jack Colton: What is the difference in the overall numbers between an A List celebrity hosting an event versus a performance by one of the top internationally known DJs?
Mike Snedegar: They are both a great value – but they generally speaking, they value in different strengths. The A List celeb will have a big strength in press , The Big DJ will have a big strength in generating revenue at the venue. And if youre lucky – they do it all.
Jack Colton: How do events hosted by reality television stars usually end up?
Mike Snedegar: Fantastic. Perfect demographic match up. The events ive done with Kim K and her family, have been some of the biggest and best ive done, and the most successful. Reality stars are much more approachable to people and fans and that’s part of their appeal.
Jack Colton: I’ve noticed Tao Group has a habit of occasionally landing and promoting very high profile artists like Jay Z and P Diddy, but with only a few days notice. How do these on-the-fly bookings usually begin? Who calls who?
Mike Snedegar: Its case by case basis, but that’s one of the things I love about my job – you never know what’s going to happen when you walk in the office for the day.
Jack Colton: Inevitably, someone reading this wants to someday do what you do. What advice do you have for them to be successful in a similar career?
Mike Snedegar: Start at the bottom and work your way up. I washed dishes, swept the floor, and emptied ashtrays in the beginning.
Jack Colton: Give us some names of people you believe are under recognized in Las Vegas nightlife, and why they deserve props?
Mike Snedegar: When I not working and hopping around town, any employee who has a great attitude and contributes to a great experience captures my attention, could be a busboy or a bartender, or a security guard. You can tell when someone really loves their job, and you can REALLY tell when someone hates their job – and that’s reflected in your experience.