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Gaming marketing conference moves to the West Coast

TEMECULA, Calif. - Raving Consulting Co. spent the last nine years hosting its annual Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference in the Midwest.

Each year they attracted a small yet loyal following. But conference planners wanted a change, so this year they made the move to the West Coast, to the Pechanga Resort and Casino Sept. 24 - 26.

''Last year we decided to move it out to a bigger, higher profile location to grow the event,'' said Dennis Conrad, Raving president and chief strategist.

The conference usually attracts about 130 to 150 attendees each year.

Conrad said attendance should increase this year, but the amount remains questionable as registration continues to filter in via the Web and fax.

The lineup of keynote speakers is expected to delve into current issues that marketing departments face on a daily basis. ''We always try to get them to speak on a topic that is very provocative,'' he said.

Additionally, the breakout workshops feature mock situations, and attendees must find out how to find positive solutions to cure the marketing ailment. Conrad encouraged attendees to ''get your hands dirty'' and ''bring all your issues'' to the workshops.

The conference will kick off with ''Native Voices: Communications Strategies for Tribal Nations,'' a half-day conference Sept. 24. Separate registration is required for the event, which is sponsored by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

Ascend Media Gaming Group handled the planning and production of Native Voices, and has worked with Raving on conferences for the past three years. ''I think they have helped take it to a whole other level,'' Conrad said.

Native Voices' keynote speakers are former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Northern Cheyenne and senior policy adviser for Holland & Knight, and Anthony R. Pico, former chairman and spokesman for the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians.

Both leaders are slated to share their experience and views on how marketing representatives can best deliver news on the economic and social progression of tribes to the media and public.

Charles Anderer, director of trade events for Ascend, said media and message management are crucial to the public image of gaming tribes. ''They're getting a lot of calls from the media and they're under more scrutiny,'' he said.

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Following the keynote address, workshop speakers, well-versed in effective communication strategies, will share their experience on ''Media Matters: Making the Most of Native and Mainstream Vehicles'' and ''Message Management: Crafting a More Accurate Image of the American Indian.''

Native Voices ends with a reception/networking party and speaker Joseph P. Kalt, co-director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The next two days will encompass topics designed to imprint conference-goers with creative marketing strategies to help boost hotel and casino revenue.

Conrad will kick off the first morning speaking engagement with a seminar on improving Indian casino promotions ''that you could be doing by next month.''

The keynote luncheon speak-er will be Mark Trahant, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe and editorial page editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Trahant plans to share his tips on how tribes can persuade their local newspapers to write more stories on what their casino has to offer to the public.

The second and last day of the conference will feature an award luncheon. The Excellence in Indian Gaming Marketing Award will be presented to the Barona Band of Mission Indians and its consulting partner, VCAT.

Anderer said the event will close with the Raving's Insider Party at the Eagle's Nest lounge at the top of Pechanga. The party features a performance by the band Inkompliant.

He noted that the band's lineup includes Victor Rocha, Luiseno and the brains behind pechanga.net, and Jacob Coin, director of the Office of Public Affairs for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and a member of the Hopi Tribe. Coin will serve as a moderator at the Native Voices conference.

Ascend Media Group produces trade magazines and newsletters for the gaming industry, including IGWB, Casino Journal, Slot Manager and Indian Gaming Business. It hosts about eight trade shows and expos each year.

''Our real purpose is to link buyers to sellers,'' Anderer said.

Raving Consulting Co. offers a full-service marketing consulting to gaming organizations by offering a large array of services ranging from customized casino training seminars to conferences, promotions and special event development (Raving Promotions).

''Sixty percent of our work is in Indian country,'' Conrad said.

For registration information, visit www.indiangamingmarketing.com or call (775) 329-7864.