Vietnamese Student Association at Louisiana State University

Most Outstanding Social Event - VEGA Night

Provide a detailed description of the event and the population it served. Details MUST include: date of event, number of participants, program purpose (goals, objectives, etc.), use of resources (finances, community support, etc.), and marketing techniques.

On April 21, 2018, Vietnamese Entertainment, Gala, and Awards (VEGA) Night was held in the LSU’s Student Union Royal Cotillion Ballroom from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. We had over 100 people in attendance. This is an increase of 30 compared to last year’s VEGA Night. VEGA Night served as 2017-2018’s Executive Board last event, where we highlighted memories made throughout the year, recapping them in a video, showcased our talented members with various performances, and presented awards to our outstanding members. In addition to this, we announced VSA-LSU's Executive Board for the 2018-2019 term.
The event was put together by VSA-LSU’s E-Board and called for months of planning. LSU’s Student Union Royal Cotillion Ballroom is a well-known venue and has proven in the past to be difficult to reserve; therefore, we began planning VEGA in the fall semester, reserving the venue 6 months in advance. The venue is also free to student organizations, so we were able to cut venue costs. One big change we implemented this year was having VEGA Night on a Saturday. This is a change from typically having it during a weekday. We saw this as a reason for not having much attendance from alumni and other schools. Once we reserved the date, we reached out and began contacting our alumni via email to attend the event.
When it came to performers, we opened up it up to LSU students, prioritizing their performances, but we were also selective. We wanted a variety of performances that would make VEGA enjoyable and entertaining. While we opened up and focused on having LSU performers, we did make a single exception for unique talents- specifically, Anthony Huynh performing poetry. Overall, we were able to have acts from dancing to singing, playing a musical instrument to performing magic and, of course, poetry. We also had a guest speaker, former VSA-LSU President Tong Nguyen, whom we contacted two months prior to VEGA. We selected Tong Nguyen as many viewed him as the one who revamped and made VSA-LSU into what it is today. He was also a part of UVSA-GC’s first executive board. For VSA-LSU, he was a big name, had a successful job, and was passionate and hardworking.
Our choices for catering were also expanded this year. Before, our only choice of catering was LSU Dining. This year, we had a list of over 50 caterers to choose from, where we had to select a menu and contact the caterers 3 months ahead of time to reserve our event date. By changing caterers, we were able to save $300 from our budget of $1800 for VEGA. We also applied for LSU’s Student Government funding (PSIF), which covered a majority of the cost for catering. The initial cost of $2200 was cut down to $781. The rest of our budget went towards donations to ENVOG and Thien Ai Lion Dance Team since they offered us their services for free. We were also able to get floral arrangements from our sponsor Ever After Floral at no cost. This proved as a budgetary success since we were able to use our connections to keep our costs low while showing appreciation to those who’ve helped us.
For marketing, we advertised VEGA a month in advance with a Facebook event and Instagram post. We also posted looking for performers and several reminders. As the event neared, we announced our emcees and constantly reminded people to RSVP so that we could gauge how much food from catering we would need. These efforts got us enough responses to have the right amount of food. During the week leading up to VEGA, we released a promotional video for VEGA and distributed our sponsorship gifts. The video was to show VEGA’s location and how to get there. It was also to get everyone hyped and excited for the event. The week opened up an opportune time to talk to our sponsors to come and support us at VEGA. We also included all of our sponsors on the VEGA program.

What efforts were used to motivate and involve the organization's members?

To help involve our members, we invited them to perform and showcase their talents for VEGA. We began advertising VEGA Night and talking to members individually a month in advance, about how they would dress up, and if they were going to bring anyone with them. We also advertised ENVOG as a photobooth, the announcement of next year’s E-Board, free food, and a dressy setting. This all added to the atmosphere of great entertainment, delicious food, and a fun time.

How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the event?

When we were looking to reserve the venue, we ran into issues with LSU’s Student Union as communication proved slow, as well as conflict with LSU’s big events. We were initially looking to have VEGA Night on April 14th; however, we learned that LSU’s biggest volunteering event, Geaux BIG, was on that date. We decided on April 21st because it was the only available date within the timeframe we had wanted. While it was close to dead week and finals, attendance blew us out the water.
When we decided not to use LSU catering, we were not informed about table linens not being provided, so on the day of our event, we found that there no linens on the tables except those from the caterer. We improvised and used table covers, which ended up accentuating the environment. We also faced difficulty reaching other caterers because their information was either outdated or they didn’t check emails and calls often. Because of this, several of our top choices for catering did not respond to us or could not accommodate us, but we managed to find a caterer willing to host our event two weeks prior.
We also ran into an issue with LSU’s Union. We were under the impression that we would have a technician throughout the event, but he was only present during the beginning. To work around this, whenever we needed a change made to the lighting or audio, we would send someone to get him from the front desk five minutes prior to when it was needed.
During intermission when people wanted to take pictures at the photo booth, the booth was locked, and the attendant was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that we were able to get it unlocked. This resulted in a delay in our programming, but it ended up in our favor as it gave people more time to eat and take pictures.