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XLIVE Interview Series
XLIVE Interview Series - Kevin Kreczko - RWS Entertainment Group.jpg

Kevin Kreczko, RWS Entertainment Group - XLIVE Interview Series

This week on the XLIVE Interview Series, we sat down with Kevin Kreczko, Senior Director of Business Development, Events & Attractions at RWS Entertainment Group. RWS Entertainment Group is a worldwide production company which creates award-winning custom entertainment, live events and branded experiences. We spoke to Kevin about a number of topics, from how he entered into the event production space, changes he’s seen along the way, some of the favorite experiential productions he’s worked on, and what’s next for the experiential design and production market. Read the full interview below!

Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us today, Kevin!  For those who aren’t familiar with RWS Entertainment Group, can you give us a brief overview of the organization, how it started and changed along the way, and share some insight into your role there?

RWS Entertainment Group is a leading experiential company that creates award-winning activations through technology, performance, branded experiences and live events worldwide. We develop innovative productions, custom brand experiences and designs for top resorts, cruise lines theme parks and corporate events.

Since its founding in 2003, RWS Entertainment Group has evolved from operating in an apartment in Queens to a 52,000 square foot studio complex in NYC. Today, RWS Entertainment Group consists of four creative and operational departments: the Global Entertainment Team that focuses on live show production; the Experiences department, which immerses guests into a whole new world utilizing the 5 senses; the Design department, which provides turn-key solutions for any design need – from scenic to costumes, props, sound, lighting, technology; and Theatrical and Development, our newest department set to produce theatrical shows for Broadway, Off-Broadway and more,  including its first national theatrical tour in 2019 with the production of Xanadu.

At RWS, I serve as Senior Director of Business Development, Events & Attractions, where I lead the full conceptual design and installation of a wide range of experiential services including theme design, decor, attractions, seasonal activations and light shows year-round.

You have over 20 years of experience producing events, and working with different productions or venues.  How did you get into the live event industry?  Was this something you had always wanted to do professionally?

The theatre bug hit me at the age of 5 and ever since then I have always had a passion for creating experiences that put smiles or screams on people’s faces! Growing up, I produced neighborhood events from Easter Egg hunts to home haunts and engaging magic shows. These home produced productions led me to develop a service organization, Making the Millennium Better, which gives homeless children a chance to experience the holidays. After developing this program for two years, I attended Niagara University, where I received a degree in theatre and another in hotel and restaurant management. While studying at Niagara, I created an interactive Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre company, K Murders, Entertainment to Die For. Following my tenure at Niagara, I traveled to the west coast and obtained my MFA at the University of California, Irvine. While studying, at both Niagara and UC Irvine, I had the opportunity to work with some incredible industry professionals from the Broadway and Entertainment worlds. These relationships lead to an expansive career in creating some of the most successful experiences in the entertainment industry.

XLIVE Interview Series - Kevin Kreczo

Photo from RWS Entertainment Group's Experiences division for Six Flags, called "Six Flags Great America - Holiday in the Park."

You boast a very impressive client list, including Six Flags, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Sesame Place, San Antonio Zoo, ZooTampa, Westfield, Holland America Line, and more.  Are there any productions which stood out as some of the favorite projects you’ve worked on? Any great stories from our career you can share with the XLIVE audience?

Each experience is curated specifically for the brand, which makes all of them unique; therefore, each of them hold special memories for me. I am in the business of creating stories and making memories and when I see guests become immersed in these stories, I smile. I still hold close to my heart the memories of going to theme parks or shows with my family, so I am happy to be able to now provide this opportunity for families. As a creator, you never know when you are going to provide that spark of creativity that will inspire that one child to create something inside of their imagination.

One time a family entered a Santa experience I had created and the mother came up to me and said can you please take a photo of us. She said, “Do you know this is the first time my family has ever been able to capture a moment with Santa in an experience so magical?” It is moments like that, which allow us to leave a legacy and create tradition.

Over your career, what are some of the biggest changes or shifts you’ve seen affect the live event space, both with regard to technology, but also the shift in mindset of how to further immerse attendees into an experience and connect with them?

Technology is always going to evolve and challenge us to incorporate the newest trend; however, the foundation of what we do will never change and that begins with the story. Being a company that is rooted by the principles of theatre, RWS’ team of artists are geniuses at this––we are master storytellers.

Over the years, guest experiences have transferred from spectator to participant and it is important that we allow guests to now become part of the story. If we continue to create moments of discovery, surprise and delight we then allow guests the opportunity to create their own story, making each experience unique for yourself.

When we develop unique moments of surprise and delight, we create conversation after the experience. The opportunity for each guest to share his or her own experience often results in repeat visitation because a friend will want to experience the same!

A question which often comes with experiential events or activations, is how do you measure the impact. Return on Experience (ROE or ROX depending on who you ask) is a new metric in our industry, however measuring ROE/ROX can be different depending on who you ask. How are you able to go back to your clients, and explain to them the impact these event productions had on their businesses?

I like to enjoy the experience with my clients and, as we observe together, we are immersed in the sounds of laughter, screams, but most importantly, we see smiles. This is a true measure of the return on experience because we provided the guest with something intangible­­––an emotional souvenir.

When you get your story right, the return on experience will provide a natural return on investment through additional in-park purchases and repeat visitation, allowing us to measure the success and power of that emotional souvenir.

RWS SFGAm Holiday in the Park 120818 Reel.00_00_49_00.Still001.jpg

Photo from RWS Entertainment Group's Experiences division for Six Flags, called "Six Flags Great America - Holiday in the Park."

Many experiences are involving more than site and sound.  They are tapping into multiple human senses, to further immerse people into an experience.  Can you talk to us about the rise in experiences like this, and how you’re engaging multiple human senses in your experiences?

All of the experiences curated by RWS are designed with scalability, flexibility and full immersion in mind. Naturally, we are focused on the five senses… what does a guest see, hear, taste, smell and feel, but many people forget the sixth sense, which elevates RWS experiences. This sixth sense is human engagement and interaction. In order to make the story authentic, it is important to remember that everyone is part of the story; therefore, RWS engages all departments to curate the perfect immersive experience.

Some of our favorite immersions include themed culinary and merchandise activations, the inclusion of scents, chocolate tastings and compositions of original scores. In combining all of the senses, we definitely capitalize on creating an emotional reaction and that is what defines immersion.   

Where do you see experiential events going from here?  What’s next as we finish 2019 and head into 2020?

As the popularity of gaming and digital culture have become more mainstream, the goal of an event and bringing people together has become even more important. As we begin to look at the design of an event, people desire to be immersed in an environment and we are excited to be at the forefront of developing these sought-out experiences.  By combining the elements of live entertainment and immersion, we are creating a whole new attraction that is turning the industry on its head.

Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us today, Kevin!  For people who want to learn more, how can they connect with RWS Entertainment Group, you, and learn more about the events and productions you’re working on?

RWS’ mission and passion are to raise your experience and that can be seen through our productions and experiences, and  we invite you to share these with us! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube and visit our website at rwsnyc.com. You can also contact newbusiness@rwsnyc.com or call 212.391.1795.

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