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July 28, 2014

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Passion Parties: A passion for marketing success

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Steve Marcus

A booth in the lobby is shown during a Passion Parties convention at the Las Vegas Hilton on March 25. More than 1,200 members attended the convention, which recognizes the company’s top salespeople.

Barry Manilow headlines at the Las Vegas Hilton and always provides the music, but last week a local company supplied the passion during its national convention, which took place at the storied resort.

Passion Parties, the Las Vegas-based company that sells sensual products throughout the United States at in-home parties, hosted more than 1,200 representatives at a weeklong convention. At a time when convention business has been down, Passion Parties showed a 25 percent increase in attendance over last year.

The company spared no expense as it cost more than $1 million to orchestrate the week’s activities.

Pat Davis, president of Passion Parties, said the company uses almost all Las Vegas-based companies — from the decorators to the production company that stages the elaborate awards banquet — to arrange the week’s events.

“Even though we are based here, we could go other places,” Davis said. “We really want to support our city, and it’s also good for us because it’s a great destination city and we can have all of our staff on board.”

More than 74,000 women have joined Passion Parties as consultants since it was founded in 1994, and recruitment has increased 125 percent since February 2008.

Davis said that while economic woes have hampered many companies, it is part of the reason Passion Parties has increased its membership so much in the last year.

“A lot of women out there are looking for added income or just income,” Davis said. “If you look around at the convention, there is no single type or age or anything like that. This is something any woman can do.”

The reason convention attendance continues to grow is because the company puts a lot of effort into making it a fun, informative and inspirational event, Davis said.

“It helps them recharge their batteries,” she said.

The list of keynote speakers at this year’s convention included Jack Canfield, author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul;” Sue Johanson, host of Oxygen Network’s “Talk Sex With Sue Johanson;” and motivational speaker Brian Biro, who has helped close the convention for the last six years.

Biro, who has written several books and appeared on nationally televised programs such as “Good Morning America,” said the Passion Parties convention is one event he looks forward to each year.

“Of all the places I go to, this one has the most front-of-the-room energy,” Biro said. “A lot of times the room fills from the back forward, but here everyone wants to sit upfront.”

Biro’s presentation includes a board-breaking ceremony during which the participants write on a one-inch thick board and then break it.

On one side of the board, they write the primary obstacle to their success and on the other, they list the things they want to accomplish. The highly charged exercise builds to a crescendo as the participants first struggle to isolate the problem that they think stands in the way of their success, then symbolically remove it by breaking the board.

The cathartic experience, which included more than 600 people this year, is extremely emotional and volunteers move through the audience with boxes of tissue for the participants that are caught up in the moment.

Davis participated in the exercise several years ago and has the broken board displayed in her office.

“It was an incredibly liberating experience for me and then to see these women all go through it just brings it all back,” she said.

Jessica LaLonde of Huntington Beach, Calif., said the confidence she has gained in her ability to run a successful business is as rewarding as the money she brings in.

“I like to throw parties and that’s how I really got involved,” LaLonde said. “I called a consultant who lives in another state, who told me she couldn’t come to the party, but she could help get me started.”

The Passion Parties business model allows consultants to keep a percentage of the sales from their own parties as well as a share of the money brought in from people they enlist as consultants.

LaLonde’s first party was eight years ago and last year she made $70,000 with a network that includes more than 430 people.

While LaLonde is a Passion Parties success story, she is not alone.

An awards ceremony that culminated the week’s activities recognized consultants for achieving a wide range of plateaus of excellence in salesmanship and leadership.

Two women were awarded a house bonus, which means they will get an extra $1,000 each month to cover or supplement a house payment. Dozens of other representatives got car bonuses of $400 per month. More than 100 received Oscar-like statuettes, called “loving couples,” in varying sizes for achieving sales of up to $1 million per year, and everyone who attended the convention was recognized in some way.

“We want everyone here to feel like they are a part of our success, and they really are,” Davis said.

Mark Hansel covers retail and marketing for In Business Las Vegas and its sister publication, the Las Vegas Sun. He can be reached at 259-4069 or at [email protected].

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