Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

December 1, 2008

Open Topic Discussion - December 1, 2008

Posted by detroit1051

It IS a difficult balancing act, cost control vs customer service. If the holiday season ends with a slow New Year's, the Strip's strategy of superior customer service may have to be rethought, but what is the tipping point at which customers rebel?

"In recent months, the profits of several big casino operators have fallen faster than revenue, or total sales before expenses. It's a sign that the companies have not cut costs deeply enough to offset the decline in their business.
On the Strip in the third quarter, MGM Mirage's revenue fell 9 percent, and earnings declined more than 15 percent over the same period in 2007; Harrah's Entertainment's revenue declined 12 percent, and earnings fell 17 percent over the same year-ago period."

Cutting Costs vs Serving Customers


Read archived comments (35 so far)
December 1, 2008 6:49 AM Posted by Joey At VegasLinks

It's amazing to me how much the stock prices have dropped in relation to the percentage drops in revenue.

After listening to the latest FHBM the stories about signage bulbs not being replaced at Flamingo and Bally's certainly tells the tale of less maintenance. Also there have been reports of dishes being left in common areas of some 5 star hotels for days. It's too bad.

I wonder if stuff like this happened in the past but because we are now hyper-aware of the horrible state of the economy that we pick up on these stories more to fit into our hypothesis of bad service at places that might have had bad service/maintenance practices to begin with.

December 1, 2008 9:51 AM Posted by Aaron_b

It will be interesting to see what areas of service the hotels choose to cut. I would guess the cuts will vary based on the market tier of each hotel. If the “5 Diamond” properties were to cut back too much would they not be at risk of being stripped of a Diamond or two?

Personally if they were to cut service and maintenance too much I would probably forgo the flights to Vegas and choose to spend my vacations at resorts closer to where I live.

December 1, 2008 9:57 AM Posted by detroit1051

These tough times will work to Steve Wynn's advantage. If Bellagio is forced to reduce customer service, it will simply confirm Wynn's reputation as the preeminent property on the Strip, and that reputation will be further reinforced by the opening of Encore with all its publicity as the next wonder of the world:-) Where will all this leave ARIA? Steve will have a year's head start to solidify his two hotels' position in the market.

And, to answer Joe's question, I plan to stay two nights at Bellagio and two at Encore in the next few months.

December 1, 2008 10:14 AM Posted by mike_ch

All these companies throw money around pretty foolishly in some areas. Anyone who has worked around them has stories of casinos throwing money around wastefully at something simply because they had so much.

There's plenty of cutting that can be done without affecting guest experience, but that has to be done at management level, so...

Detroit: I've made my predictions already. Bellagio will very quickly lose amenities and prestige if Aria doesn't increase profits but instead just moves them further south down the road.

December 1, 2008 11:44 AM Posted by DavidF


In answer to your question on the Encore Thread - I stayed at the Bellagio for two nights this past July, this was at the Start of a 8 night trip that also Included 4 nights at Skylofts and 2 Nights at Sheldy’s

I was in a Spa Tower Room with Fountain view–


- The Public Areas are as nice as ever and it was a pleasant walk to/from the Spa Tower.

-The Room was clean comfortable and had everything I would expect of a 5 Diamond Room

- It was Fantastic to have the view of the Fountain Show with the Soundtrack through the TV. Both Nights I just moved the Armchair to the Window and Sat back with a Drink enjoying the show, a great way to relax. I would definitely do what you need to do to get a fountain view.

-All the Staff I interacted with were at the top of their game for customer service and professionalism.


Check in was disorganized and chaotic, it took me 45 minutes to check in…. at 11.30pm, I would have checked in earlier but I waited in the hope that things would calm down as I hate waiting in line! I only narrowly preferred the Venetians Check in line method, which has been taken straight from the process used by Frys Electronics, even down the “Available” hand Paddles, its only a matter of time before Sheldy starts putting drinks/snacks/ tchotchkes in the line for the full on Frys Effect. I have heard people complain about Wynn in the past but its done much better there.

The Room just didn’t have the “Wow” Factor that the Wynn Room has -. Don’t get me wrong, its nice, its definitely 5 diamond but it just seemed to be missing something. A little behind the times also as it only had a Tube TV, although I will say the Bellagio’s in Room Electronics, beats the Venetians “Straight out-a Walmart” line up.

Bottom Line, it depends what/where you have stayed before, I would recommend it, I would say from a Hotel Perspective its Nicer than Sheldy’s but not as Nice as the Wynn, you will have a good time there.

And before anyone calls me a Fanboy, I don’t think Wynn has the Best “Hands Down” publically reserved rooms/service on the Strip, for me its still the Skylofts @ MGM, although I await to see what Wynn will have when its fully opened, and with it now online, I may try a Fairway next time I am there.

December 1, 2008 1:31 PM Posted by Hunter

Hotels get a heads up before they lose a diamond from their rating. In some cases (cough... Bellagio 2002... cough...) they are even warned in advance that they are in danger of having their rating downgraded.

December 1, 2008 3:39 PM Posted by LeoNYC

I agree with DavidF. Skylofts still offer the best service, rooms and amenities (in room) in Las Vegas. It will be hard to beat it since it has only 51 rooms, what makes one very easy to manage and to provide a more personal service. Although, I must say, the Skylofts is part of MGM Grand. Don't get me wrong, MGM Grand is a nice property, but not as nice as Bellagio and Wynn. One thing that I don't like is the long distance you have to walk to get to the pools/spa at the MGM.
One note about Encore: I called the reservation today and I was informed that there is no Salon suites facing the Strip. All have views to downtown Las Vegas. Checking the floor plans on the website, I thought they would face the Strip (???).

December 2, 2008 6:17 AM Posted by Evan

LeoNYC - I agree - looking at the floor plans, the windows look to be on the bowed out side (which for Encore is facing the strip). Maybe it's just a floor plan copied from Wynn (I don't think they're really changing the floor plan for Salon Suites, just the decor). If you still don't believe them, try calling reservations again - you'll probably get a different person - if you get the same answer, maybe it is the truth. Hard to believe since I bet some of the strip views from the more west side of the Encore tower are great, not sure why there wouldn't be Salon Suites there.

December 2, 2008 6:42 AM Posted by Brian Fey

LeoNYC - Yes you are right, whoever you talked to must be mistaken, unless the room diagram on the website is wrong. With the room showing, the windows on the wide side of the room, it would have to be on the south side of the building.

December 2, 2008 8:26 AM Posted by Phil

I still have a bad feeling about City Center specifically its financing and whether it will be completed on time. As I mentioned before if you go on any Dubai message board it will tell the story of virtually all projects in Dubai stopped to a halt, the only exception is the worlds tallest building Burj al Dubai. The $40-$50 a barrel oil is hitting them hard and its glory days have virtually crashed over night. If oil goes back up to $80 thats one thing, but if it remains at $40 for a year or more City Center will face another big hurdle.

December 2, 2008 12:59 PM Posted by GregoryZephyr

I sometimes wonder if there's anything really innovative in terms of back-of-the-house improvements going on at these casinos. They add a nightclub or a restaurant or a show. And certainly keep trying new slots and rearranging casino floorplans. But, how is it that small hotel chains (I can't remember which one started it but it may be Hilton Garden Inn or Marriott Courtyard) have started installing check-in kiosks. It's ironic because I've never stayed at one of these places where there was actually any wait for the desk clerk. But, in casinos with thousands checking in, there seems no automation at all. Also, do the mid-tier resorts need to offer 24 hour room service? Couldn't they just have a 24 hour diner with to-go meals instead? Not everyone needs or even wants 5 star service.

December 2, 2008 6:13 PM Posted by detroit1051

MGM Mirage wants to strengthen the Monte Carlo brand:

December 2, 2008 6:55 PM Posted by craigneg

Profits almost always fall faster than revenue. It's business 101. You leverage your fixed costs after a certain revenue level. You pay your fixed costs with "X" revenue and the make your profits on "X+" while adding relatively minimal variable costs.

December 3, 2008 9:03 AM Posted by Hunter

Can't hurt.

Also, MGM Mirage is being sued by the real Monte Carlo over the name.

December 3, 2008 12:06 PM Posted by Mark D

Station Casinos will stop contributing to employee 401k plans at the end of the month. This will boost the culinary union's efforts to organize there.

December 3, 2008 2:29 PM Posted by JK

I was just checking out AAA's 2009 Diamond Awards, and Palazzo wasn't on the Five or Four Diamond List.

However, Trump was on the Four Diamond List, and it opened after Palazzo. Did they not rate Palazzo for some odd reason? Or did they just rate it as part of the Venetian? That would be surprising as Palazzo (in my view) is completely different from the Venetian (service at the Palazzo, if I might add, was much better than service at the Venetian).

December 3, 2008 3:36 PM Posted by Sam

I'm pleased by any sign that MGM isn't planning to level Monte Carlo for more CityCenter. I always feel like MC gets a worse rap than it deserves. If only it had a better facade, without such unfortunate windows. It's not 5-star or anything, but I'd rather stay there than NYNY, Bally's, or most of the other mid-market resorts in that category.

For some reason, this line of the MC lawsuit struck me as hilarious: "While tall and similarly shaped, this building is not the actual stratosphere." Something about sarcasm in dry legal writing, I guess.

December 3, 2008 6:59 PM Posted by Brian Fey


There is a rumor on another site, which states that CDS's Criss Angel show might close. I repeat, this is only a rumor at this point. The poster goes on to say, that Cirque would use the current theater with minor revisions to house a Cirque traveling show. The show would run for 6 months, and then the next Cirque traveling show would take its place. So on and so forth.

It does make some sense, the latter. And we know the show is getting horrible review after horrible review. I personally think with the investment that has been made, they would not make a call this early. The show has only been open for a little over a full month. This is more than likely all complete rumor with no basis, but that's what this board is all about, sharing what we think and know with one another.

December 4, 2008 5:11 AM Posted by detroit1051

Brian, Cirque traveling shows may be a brilliant idea. It seems I'm often seeing ads for the next traveling Cirque show to play in a temporary venue in Miami. Rotating shows might be very popular with repeat tourists who have already seen the permanent Cirque shows on the Strip.

December 4, 2008 7:22 AM Posted by Brian Fey

I agree, its not a bad idea. I live in Kansas City, and we're small enough, we don't really get all the CDS traveling shows. So i'd be all for the idea. I was so excited about the Criss Angel show, because the idea of a CDS magic show, sounded just awesome. But I guess the show is far from that. Maybe they should have skipped a big star name, and just had a no name star do amazing tricks, tied with their creative nature. It could have just been awesome. Some people laugh, and maybe I'm just still a kid at heart, but I loved S&R, it was one of the best shows in Vegas, and the show was about 15 years old. Think how much theaters and technology has changed in the last 20 years. That show would have turned 20 next year, amazing. I'd love to see what they could come up with today. I guess what I'm saying is, the Strip has Lance Burton, but there is plenty of room for another big production, magic show. I had hoped this would be it. It will be interesting to see what the next 6 months brings with this show. Maybe I should go see it this trip, incase its gone by next?

December 4, 2008 6:28 PM Posted by detroit1051

Homeless and "silver mining" in Las Vegas. The under side of the city:

December 7, 2008 5:35 AM Posted by detroit1051

That difficult to define term, "taste", is what makes Wynn so much more appealing than Venetian. Even though the story is about Macau, the room description sounds the same as Venetian Las Vegas.

"The 1,803-square-foot suite was not impressive.
"The bedroom, with its French drapes over the head of the bed, resembled the setting for a Las Vegas bacchanalia," the reviewer wrote."

December 15, 2008 5:23 AM Posted by MGK

Treasure Island sold to Phil Ruffin...

December 15, 2008 7:20 AM Posted by socalduck

I would be interested in hearing more details on the terms. Conceivably, Ruffin could have enough cash on hand to complete the deal without seeking outside financing, and would start generating cash flow from Day 1. It sounds as though he struck a good deal, paying $268k per room for a high quality, turn-key property, which I assume he plans to run it in its current form, at least for the next few years.

December 17, 2008 4:43 AM Posted by detroit1051

It would be great if some of you going to Encore's opening could head north up the Strip to give us a report on Fontainebleau's newly opened preview center.
There have been rumors for some time that some or all of the condo units will not be completed next year and will be mothballed until business improves.
Today's RJ has an update on the project:
Looking at the photo, I still wonder what the big, boxy looking structure is next to the tower. Is it retail?

December 17, 2008 10:04 AM Posted by mike_ch

It's a condo sales complex, so somebody else may need to cover that. The timeshare guys don't even bother to talk to me when I'm on my walks, because I'm a guy in a t-shirt and slacks who needs a haircut and I don't have a girlfriend or significant other following me around. In other words, I dress like I don't have any money at all and I don't have a second income walking around with me, so the only salesmen who want my time are porn slappers.

I'm not being carded all the time anymore, so I know that I at least don't look 19 anymore. Just one step up from a hobo, I guess.

I'm guessing that it's this building just north of Circus Circus across the road from the FB. It's been there for a long time, don't know why they just opened it up now.

December 17, 2008 2:15 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, I know it's a condo sales office, but they're not selling any condos. Strange. If I were there, I'd check it out to see how they're promoting the hotel, 100,000 sq ft casino, 300,000 sq ft of retail, etc, etc. Personally, I'm not sure FB will open at all in '09.
Yes, your photo must be the sales office with its stylized "fb" embossed in the pre-cast.

December 17, 2008 3:50 PM Posted by mike_ch

I thought they were going with no casino? Huh.

I'll give it a look over soon, I guess. I'm stuck in the house right now due to a slip and fall, but last week I got photos of some renovations at Mandalay and the new bar at NYNY that I mean to send in.

Personally, I'm most sceptical of FB than anything in town. It's a huge amount of rooms, scheduled to open at the same time as CityCenter, far up north.

December 17, 2008 5:41 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, sorry about your slip and fall. Maybe you should call Ed Bernstein :-)
I sure agree with your comment, "I'm most sceptical of FB than anything in town."
How can 100,000 sq ft of casino space and 300,000 ft of retail succeed that far north until CC North is built? I'll bet there aren't many leases yet.

December 18, 2008 4:55 AM Posted by Brian Fey

The Vegas Norm at LVRJ is pretty good today. Looks like Wynn has personally confirmed the BeeGee's musical, is a fact.

December 24, 2008 10:03 PM Posted by Mark D

Las Vegas Tower is back. Christopher Milam has entered into a new agreement to buy the 27-acre Wet n Wild site again for Las Vegas Towers. In the deal that fell apart last summer the land was priced at $17.7 million per acre, but in the new deal it's $22.9 million per acre.

December 26, 2008 4:48 AM Posted by motoman

Terrace Pointe is no longer 24 hours? Say it isn't so! Saw that on and couldn't believe it....

....Oh wait, I see what they've done: Zoozacrackers is now open until 7am, when TP reopens. Must come down to foot traffic. I'll admit finding TP a little unaccessible, especially for tourists who aren't familiar with WLV.

Guess that answers the question someone posted here years ago about the requirement for 24-hr eats in a casino (i.e., whether it needed to be a 24 hour restaurant, or merely some option available 24 hours a day). Yes the Drugstore is 24 hours for light snacks, but for an after-hours restaurant, Zoozacrackers can't match the ambiance of Terrace Pointe :-(

December 30, 2008 4:24 AM Posted by detroit1051

Time Magazine's website has two stories on the Las Vegas economy:
The Good Times Stop Rolling: Vegas Meets the Recession,8599,1868932,00.html?cnn=yes

Behind Vegas's Bad Bet,8599,1868933,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-bottom

December 31, 2008 7:56 AM Posted by detroit1051

Harmon at CityCenter:
I missed this story yesterday, but can it be true that CityCenter's Harmon has these major structural problems, or is it a way to defer the project indefinitely? I'm surprised that Light Group is allegedly out of the project after their close relationship with MGM Mirage.

December 31, 2008 9:36 AM Posted by Hunter

This rumor has been floating around for some time. Some think they may stop construction where it is and top it off, others suggest wrapping it as the article indicates.