Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

August 9, 2010

SIMPSON ON VEGAS #005: Downtown Blues, Part Two

Posted by Hunter

Jeff is back with part two of his take on the Downtown Las Vegas scene and what might help it turn around.

Keep reading after the jump and if you missed part one, it's right here.

In a totally unrelated thought - don't forget that we're giving away an iPad.

Downtown Las Vegas is never going to regain its once-proud status as a top gaming market but there are several strategies casino owners and civic leaders could follow to keep Glitter Gulch from continuing on its long slide toward irrelevance.

Right off the bat, the most vital element in reversing the trajectory of the Downtown market is substantial investment in the casinos and their hotels, restaurants, bars and entertainment offerings. Too many owners are undercapitalized and unable or unwilling to spend the money needed to improve or refresh their properties and too much of the renovation that has been done has been done on the cheap.

There is only one big casino operator operating downtown, Boyd Gaming. The current recession isn't the right time to expect operators like MGM Mirage, Harrah's Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands or Station Casinos to consider the purchase of or building a Downtown casino, and it's hard to believe they would want to do so even if times were great. But if the state's political movers and shakers were willing to make an aggressive play to pursue some of the big operators I think there is a slim chance at success.

The keys would be financial incentives and a pitch emphasizing the civic value of their participation. State legislators could set a special, 25-year gaming tax reduction to 5 percent (from 6.75 percent) for Downtown (and Reno, Carson City, Laughlin and the state's small rural markets) for new properties and for those that reinvest based on a dollar-per-gaming position and hotel room formula. Strip and Las Vegas locals casinos would keep the current tax rate. The disparity would be a tough sell as long as the recession persists but could be sold when and if the economy rebounds. The Strip's casinos won 53.4 percent ($5.55 billion) of the state's ($10.393 billion) gaming win in 2009, and the locals markets (Balance of Clark County market, $1.075 billion, 10.3 percent of state total; Boulder Strip market, $790.4 million, 7.6 percent; North Las Vegas, $286.2 million, 2.8 percent) accounted for another 20.7 percent of the state's total. Some adjustments would need to be made, giving the casinos in Primm and Jean (they are in the Balance of Clark County market) the opportunity for a lowered tax rate along along with the older casinos in downtown North Las Vegas (Jerry's Nugget, Silver Nugget, Opera House, etc.) and downtown Henderson (Eldorado, Rainbow and Emerald Isle). The tax rate deduction would only apply to about a quarter of the state's casino win, and then only if the owners reinvested substantial new money in their properties. That investment would result in additional jobs, more tourists and increased sales tax collections and would boost the fortunes of historic and struggling casino markets, including Downtown Las Vegas.

The financial incentives probably wouldn't be enough to attract the big players to invest downtown but a strong pitch from a persuasive mayor -- or maybe from soon-to-leave-office Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who should be recruited to helm a new downtown redevelopment district that would include control over the Fremont Street Experience -- could help. It's worth the longshot try. But with or without the entry of the industry's big operators, the financial incentives should drive substantial investment in the Downtown market (and the state's other decaying markets). Some of the weak operators who have promised the state's gaming regulators that they would invest in their properties (Tamares Group at the Plaza, Las Vegas Club and Western, for instance) should be held to those commitments and all of the operators who are unwilling or unable to invest should be strongly encouraged to sell to operators who are willing and able.

New investment in existing properties should focus on substantial room refurbishment, broadening the range of restaurant offerings (Downtown casinos don't have much beyond the old-school trio of steakhouses, cafes and buffets) and increasing the in-casino array of lounge and other entertainment. If the existing casinos and their amenities are updated and improved, if the closed Lady Luck is reopened, if Binion's hotel rooms are refurbished and reopened and especially if weak owners are replaced by committed, capitalized operators, Downtown would be in a much stronger position.

Downtown casinos should continue working to develop marketing pitches to attract underserved customer niches. Boyd Gaming's three casinos and their strong relationship with Hawaiian customers is the best example, but there are other opportunities for imaginative owners. A small casino might dedicate a casino area to vintage slots, for example, (and maybe even offer some old-school table games like faro) to appeal to older customers. Another casino might feature Latin music in its lounges, use Spanish-language signage and employ bilingual employees. One thing is certain, though: Downtown's value orientation should never be lost. Customers should feel that they are getting a good deal Downtown, with good payback on slots, friendly rules on table games, strong food specials and affordable pricing in bars and restaurants and generous comps for gamblers.

It also is critically important that the City of Las Vegas continue aggressively working to improve the area directly surrounding the downtown casino district. The Fremont East club district, the World Market Center and several nearby condominium developments have been great additions, and the Mob Museum and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts will soon be significant attractions. The city should work to expand the tourist zone, creating a wider, visitor-friendly safe and fun environment. Las Vegas city officials should also use whatever leverage they have (control of its parking garage, for one) over the owners of Neonopolis to get them to keep and attract tenants who will benefit the city and, hopefully, attract tourists.

The biggest boon to the area would be a sports arena with an NBA and/or NHL team; a lesser improvement but still a plus would be a new minor league baseball stadium (as long as the 51s or whatever they'll be called agree to stay in the city and play there). Las Vegas' City Council appears much more willing than the Clark County Commission to consider using tax-increment financing to help a developer fund a sports arena and/or stadium, and Goodman and his successor should continue working hard to lure a developer, a team or teams and line-up the political support for the tax deal. It's important for Downtown to capture the first-mover advantage that would likely prevent a competitor from building elsewhere in the Las Vegas Valley.

Casino owners who fund the Fremont Street Experience should boost their contributions to the collective enterprise and help it pay for better and more frequent live entertainment and fresh updates for its Viva Vision canopy shows. Looking at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority survey numbers, it's clear that the Fremont Street Experience is vital to luring Strip visitors Downtown; it needs to be nurtured and refreshed.

Transportation is a tough issue for Downtown casino operators. Taxis from the airport to downtown casinos are much more expensive than trips to Strip hotels, a big disadvantage for a market that emphasizes value. City officials and Downtown casino owners should encourage the Regional Transportation Commission to add frequent bus service with luggage-carrying capability from McCarran Airport to the Fremont Street-area casinos. For drive-in customers Downtown casinos need to improve their existing parking garages, stop charging for parking and add additional free parking space. Sure, space is limited but there is undeveloped space, including Boyd's big lot across from Main Street Station.

-- Jeff Simpson, August 2010


Read archived comments (14 so far)
August 9, 2010 2:53 PM Posted by parchedearth

Some interesting ideas, but sadly nothing that would result in a complete turnaround. The downtown properties (excluding GN) need major refurbishing (and not the paltry $20M recently announced for the Plaza et al.) They need the kind of money (>$250M) that only new ownership can bring. Until the entrenched owners sell or die out, there is little hope.

August 9, 2010 4:00 PM Posted by howardpark

All good ideas. I'll add that an awful lot of Vegas visitors I talk to don't really know that Downtown exists and that is not by any means limited to "Vegas virgins."

Marketing is an issue. For example, "Camp Vegas" obviously is about the Strip and only the Strip. Downtown could benefit from a seperate approach or, at least, a seperate campaign to let first /second/third time visitors know that Downtown exists and that Downtown has some advantages. A free shuttle from the airport to, say both ends of the Fremont Canopy, would be a great amenity. Downtown offers value, history, authenticity and easy casino-hopping -- an ad campaign and integrated PR strategy can easily be built around downtown's advantages if they could come up with the money and a structure to implement it. Marketing downtown could butt up against the interests of the giants on the strip but it should be tried.

August 9, 2010 6:23 PM Posted by mike_ch

I hate to get political, but the state can barely afford to make ends meet as things are, and there isn't any other industry to fall back on. A gaming tax reduction will leave even less money to budget with. And the state simply can't predict what will happen in 25 years.

Imagine what Nevada looked like 25 years ago, compared to where it was today. Stuff has fallen backwards enough to negate the whole past decade, but things moved at such a breakneck pace you're still nowhere near were things were in 1985. Then you have clauses like "only if they substantially reinvest into their properties," which is hard to judge from an outsider's perspective. How is that enforced?

The whole rest of Clark County outside of Las Vegas kind of eludes me. I have been to Laughlin and it is a fairly competitive market, not one with a lot of investment (though I stayed at Aquarius and it was nice, and Edgewater was renovating at the time). But there are multiple players there between Don Laughlin, the AZ Charlie/Stratosphere group that owns Aquarius, the Nugget, Harrah's, the Edgewater/Colorado Belle group, and so on. By comparison, most other Clark County gambling towns are one-company monopolies or total company towns (Jean and Primm, looking at you.)

What needs to be done about transportation? Stop pussyfooting around with the cab companies, for one. When renovating McCarran, Clark County gave cab companies prime space around the baggage claim, while the buses are hidden below on ZERO Level. In exchange for this great deal, the cab companies gave up nothing.

It is time to impose a flat rate on taxis on urban Las Vegas based on destination, not milage. I tend to pull cities I've been to as example, and I shall do so again: Toronto-Pearson has a flat charge based on where you're going with the maps online. As you can see on, this map, a trip east to downtown from their airport will cost you about $53 (the square below Yonge and Bloor is where most of "downtown" is). No amount of tunneling or long-hauling will change that. They also have a west of airport map and an other cities map, with per-mile (well, per-k/m) based fees only if you're not going somewhere that's covered.

Las Vegas should adopt this strategy, but the assorted governments are afraid of the taxi companies. When the public and the taxi agencies clash, this results in guests being dropped off at the wrong end of the hotel (this has happened to me personally), taxis clogging up the LV Strip just to make it difficult for people to move around, etc.

I have doubts that Las Vegas has the gusto to challenge the cab companies. They could some day if they can ever get dedicated lanes for mass transit and let resort guests move around on that instead. However, they could probably get away with this using just downtown hotels without causing more than a bearable level of fuss, since taxi companies don't see nearly as many downtown hotel guests as they do the Strip. Their bread and butter is, basically, still secure.

Trips to downtown should have a flat rate, let's say $20 (tip not included), to a zone encompassing downtown. That's half the estimated fare I made using a fare calculator from McCarran to downtown, using the tunnel (about $45 according to the calc). $20 plus tip will make it a little more expensive than a mass transit trip for two (around $14), but discourage long-hauling and will help make downtown hotels a little more attractive to the average tourist.

And finally, the sooner we can get Oscar out of our government, the better AFAIC. Yes, he is boosting downtown development in a sense, but it is through monuments to himself. It should raise a red flag that Oscar ground Lady Luck renovations to a halt the other day because he was concerned that their plans would obstruct the views of one of his monuments. I don't want him influencing urban planning any further once he's out of office. Chances are he'll line up a job in the private sector of a firm taking advantage of his own development incentives.

August 9, 2010 6:31 PM Posted by

Customers already feel that they are getting a good deal downtown. I constantly get "we visited downtown, wow... lower limits, cheaper prices, (food specials and $2 beers and similar abound)" so the key really is getting the word out.

Downtown has very frequent live music (I believe 5 nights a week this summer) and the canopy shows have been updated on a regular basis. Queen, Kiss, and The Doors are big hits.

The argument for dropping the gaming tax could almost be an argument for dropping it state-wide, something that is out of the question.

Hotels banding together for a free airport shuttle would have a HUGE impact.

Mayor Goodman needs to be made Mayor Emeritus (end of term) and continue to speak for the city and make appearances with his Gin and showgirls.

Agreed that downtown will never return to former standing. But I think it just needs time to bounce back. Economic recovery will once again make downtown the bargain rooms. All of the condos will eventually fill up. Performing Arts center will open. Fremont East will gradually continue to come to life.

I don't think there is a quick, government based fix in this economy. The clock just has to tick forward.

August 9, 2010 7:54 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I think these are great ideas. I wonder if there is a major place for Oscar Goodman in the future redevelopement effort. Chairman of the Las Vegas Sports Authority, or as Simpson suggested, Downtown Developement Agency?
Lower tax zones are, as well, a great idea. I always wanted to guilt Harrah's and MGM into reinvesting Downtown because it was their "Patriotic Duty". I think tax incentives are a much better idea.
It never ceases to amaze me how different the mindsets are in libertarian Nevada, as opposed to Oklahoma City. We have happily been paying some version of the same 1 cent MAPS sales tax for almost 20 years now. It paid for schools, libraries, parks and the Ford Center and its updates. Which helped land an NBA team which had been in Seattle for 40 years, but was stuck in a crap-ass lease. It paid, and pays, for many other civic improvements, but don't let anyone kid you, the NBA team really did make us major league. Although we have OU football, which by any measure is one of the top 5 college programs since WWII, NBA basketball has been an incredible boost for the image of Oklahoma City. My point being that the populace of Las Vegas (the people who stay there in July and August) deserve the boost in self image that an NBA or NHL team will provide. It will pay off in the long run, and Mr. Goodman is just the person to get it sold, IMO.
I love Downtown Las Vegas and sincerely hope that the best is yet to come.

August 9, 2010 9:13 PM Posted by Jeff Simpson

First, I'd like to say how great it is to get such thoughtful comments/feedback to my columns, especially when compared to the kind of (sometimes nutty) feedback I received from my newspaper columns at the Review-Journal and later at the Sun. One of the great things about online writing, especially on this site, is the chance to engage with such an informed and interested group of readers.
That said, I'd like to follow up with a few additional thoughts.
***First, to parchedearth. You are right that many of the current owners are too cash-strapped or disinterested to invest much in their properties. (Tamares in my opinion, bought Jackie Gaughan's old properties as a land play and probably hopes to capitalize on improving downtown land values at some point without spending money on the casinos. Don Barden at the Fitz doesn't have much capital available and I don't think Terry Caudill at the Four Queens and Binion's does either.) The keys are, first, an economic recovery, and second, new owners replacing the undercapitalized or disinterested owners. I'm not saying it will be easy to accomplish those changes, but financial incentives, regulatory scrutiny and the mayoral bully pulpit might help.
***Howard Park raised an important issue that I neglected to include in my column. The LVCVA's longtime policy has been to market the whole destination rather than emphasize the separate markets in Las Vegas, at least in its TV advertising, but obviously the Strip resorts (with the best visuals for commercials and the newest venues) are the main focus of its ads. The LVCVA needs to develop a smart multimedia ad campaign boosting Downtown, at the very least spending as much as the room tax revenue generated by Downtown hotels. The LVCVA believes in its one market, one brand strategy of promoting "Las Vegas," but that works to the detriment of Downtown (and suburban locals casinos) and turns its hotels into overflow dorms instead of sought-after destinations.
***mike_ch is clearly right about the limiting effect the state's current fiscal crisis has on the ability to offer any gaming tax incentives. Once there has been a recovery (let's hope there is one), I would argue that a targeted tax incentive, covering, at most, 25 percent of the state's casino markets, and only new casinos or those existing ones with substantial reinvestment, would generate enough additional tax revenue(sales, gaming, payroll, liquor, entertainment, etc.) and other economic stimulus to be revenue neutral or better.
About taxis: I'm with you, brother. The taxi companies enjoy ridiculous political juice here and their power, unfortunately, comes at the expense of tourists and their drivers. I would also argue in favor of a zoned system with lowered rates. A $20 cab fare from McCarran to Downtown or a $15 fare from Center Strip to DT seems like fair fares to me. You'd think folks would realize that tourists are the lifeblood of the economy but the taxi company owners own the Taxi Authority. That needs to change. Great point.
Third, we'll just have to disagree about Oscar. He may have an oversized ego, but he is a relentless booster of Downtown and, in my opinion, has been a shrewd and effective one. He is enormously popular among his constituents (much to the consternation of many of my journalistic peers) and, while I don't agree with a few of his policies and rhetoric, I am a big supporter of the Mayor.
*** also makes some good points. I agree that Downtown is already recognized as a value proposition and in my column I was just stating that emphasis on value needs to remain a cornerstone of its appeal. I also love the idea of airport shuttles; I believe the airport has discouraged them but Downtown casinos (and distant locals casinos like Red Rock, Suncoast, M Resort, GVR, Sunset Station and Aliante Station) and their customers would benefit from shuttles. Excellent point. And I also agree that an improving economy and the continuing progress of existing Downtown redevelopment efforts are key factors that would spur a Downtown rebound, but I would argue that additional efforts to spur investment in currently neglected properties and maybe even new ones could have a significant payoff. I agree that the FSE's efforts have been good in terms of live music and its video shows on the canopy, but I would argue in favor of more, more, more and better, better, better live music and video shows.
Jeff in OKC reinforces the massive value that a Downtown sports arena and an NBA team would bring. (I'm less convinced about an NHL team on its own, but both NBA and NHL would be even better, obviously.) I think there are a lot of folks like this Jeff (me) and Jeff in OKC who really love Downtown, its history and the walking-distance-proximity of its casinos, and I hope efforts to keep it vital and relevant pay off.

August 10, 2010 7:06 AM Posted by Gray

Good thoughts here. I agree that there needs to be some refurbishment, more creative restaurant offerings, and definitely more lounge entertainment. The fact that the pool scenes is practically nonexistent Downtown also hurts it during the warmer months. Right now, Downtown is a great bargain, but there's not a lot for the nongambler to do there.

August 10, 2010 1:41 PM Posted by jinx

Just some of my thoughts on downtown, great discussion so far.

1. Incentives for the big companies to come downtown? I have to ask, why? Part of the charm of downtown is the fact that it's different, putting a megaresort downtown in my opinion wouldn't help the casinos down there, it's likely to kill them off. Sure, I understand the reasoning, respected provider, player base, more marketing dollars, etc, but let's not forget the other side of it. Larger profit margins necessary, shareholder demand for certain conditions, etc. I think you risk losing the downtown market if you let MGM or Harrahs in there, especially if you give them a chance to be ahead of their competition with a new place and a lower tax base.

I think the other posters hit on some of the things I think downtown needs, outside of the necessary refurbishing the properties can use. Flat rate cab rides are almost a must from at least the airport and I'd argue the strip as well. The bus while a nice option for some is not typically going to be used by the marjority of tourists to get downtown. A cab ride for a solo traveller downtown is around $50-60 roundtrip or $30 if you split it with someone. That's an estimate but can be higher easily with traffic, on my solo trips I rarely visit downtown for that reason, it's just too pricey to get there and I don't want to take the bus.

The other thing that's always bugged me about downtown is there is very little to do or see there. Sure it makes for a nice night away from the strip, but it needs some activities in the area. I think they are getting there though, Gold Diggers, and Fremont east are a big part of this, they don't have to be huge nightclubs, but something like Rhumbar which I'm putting the Fremont East bars on scale with is a nice diversion from a casino for a couple hours. Add in some other spots and mix in some more live music and such and I think you have something that appeals to people. Keep it from becoming a completely 20-25 year old corridor and I think you really have something that appeals to people.

The last point is that I think downtown has an image problem. I've been down there and I still think of the places when I hear about them as small, dingy, and dark. The belief is that they are all in the same mold as the Western, truth is they are a little worn around the edges and could use some paint in spots, but I've been in some strip properties lately that were just as dingy, and I'm not even talking about Casino Royale or Osheas. The fact is the places downtown while considered small are decent size places. I think of small I think of Bourbon street bars, where if you put 50 people in there it's small, I know from talking to others they have some of the same thoughts about it. Again, I think a strong marketing campaign by the downtown places would go along way to getting people familiar with it and focusing on the positive aspects of the area.

August 10, 2010 11:02 PM Posted by mike_ch

I'm going to repost my thoughts about a sports arena from Stiffs & Georges the other week, for those of you who don't read that blog. This was my take on Chris Milam's now-ditched Silver State Arena by the Hilton/Sahara/F'nbleau.

I still believe an arena would work, but unfortunately I just don't think downtown is the right place. With all the freeways winding around and nearby it, there's not much room for it unless you go north of the freeway or some of the plans around Symphony Park don't plan out. The area around the Mob Museum that Oscar keeps chomping at the bit to build an arena in, there just isn't enough space. Arenas are big ugly buildings, but so are the World Market buildings, so who knows.

I think it'd be better off down south, by the highway, where people can leave to California from the arena without having to go by the Strip. Although that sounds pretty ugly from a money-making standpoint, like you're leaving cash on the table due to allowing people to leave and just pass, say, South Point and M on the way home, I think it is for the best. The freeway up by the Strip is crowded as all get-out, and there's still a lot of undeveloped or low-density land south of the airport.

(begin copy & paste)

Well, as I mentioned to somebody [detroit1051] on Twitter, what exploded condo growth on the Toronto waterfront was moving the Maple Leafs from their old Maple Leaf Gardens arena in the middle of downtown (now scheduled to become an enormous grocery store), to the Air Canada Centre, located next to CN Tower (opposite side from a baseball stadium).

That area marked where the waterfront was in the 70s, and since then it’s been expanded out further and further and since the hockey team moved there, condos have exploded. So I would say that arenas do have positive economic benefit.

But what makes the Air Canada Centre such a successful property that ISN’T the case for Milam’s arena is that it’s attached seemlessly over the railroad tracks to Union Station, which is the focal point for local mass transit at the waterfront, and terminus for commuter rails to the rest of the entire region.

By the way, the Phoenix Coyotes NHL team is presently owned by, uh, the NHL, as the team is hugely unprofitable and the NHL wanted to prevent it from falling into the hands of a Blackberry exec who wanted to move it to Hamilton, ON, a Toronto suburb. This is because (a) NHL execs really believe in hockey growing down south even if the numbers don’t back them up, and (b) probably Maple Leaf management didn’t want the competition.

There’s no long term plan for the Coyotes, but the word had long been that Jerry Bruckheimer, a friend of the commissioner Bettman, has wanted to fund moving a team to Las Vegas. At least, this is the story in the head of paranoid Canadians, who are still angry that Bettman took teams from minor Canadian cities like Winnipeg (now Phoenix) and Quebec (now Denver) to seed the US expansion.

Anyway, if there’s truth to it, I’m sure the NHL wouldn’t mind holding the team over in Phoenix while a Vegas arena is built. A near-empty Arena is much preferable to the Orleans Arena in any form just for looking good on television, and the Thomas & Mack is just too busy making money on other events.

August 30, 2010 10:27 AM Posted by Marc

I agree. The type of investment needed for the Downtown properties is currently lacking. Too many years of disinterest has caught up. A big problem that you missed is that when Terry Caudill bought the Binions he had almost no cash on hand. And now he's closed the hotel. I don't understand how people can buy something like a casino with all of the funding coming from bank loans. As a land owner of that establishment it kills me that something like that is possible.

September 4, 2010 9:49 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Marc, I have a sincere question. It appears that Binion's has not been a profitable operation for 10 years, or so, and it is on its fourth owner in that time period. It has also been reported that one of the biggest problems with the property is the complex land ownership structure. Much of the land under the casino and parking garages are tied up in long term leases that involve multiple land parcels that make up the property. The land parcels may have several owners now, since the original owners may have died and left their interest to many heirs. My point being that the rent terms are seen as being very expensive for the current Downtown market and this was one of the reasons that Harrah's, the largest casino operator in the World, decided to strip the property of the Horseshoe name and WSOP, and dump the shell that was left.
As a land owner, do you see that as being a problem that cripples the long term prospects for your property and are you willing to change the rent terms, or do you feel that the rent you are paid is fair and the casino operators are not working their business properly?

March 31, 2011 6:20 PM Posted by Paco

Regarding "Transportation is a tough issue for Downtown casino operators. Taxis from the airport to downtown casinos are much more expensive than trips to Strip hotels, a big disadvantage for a market that emphasizes value. City officials and Downtown casino owners should encourage the Regional Transportation Commission to add frequent bus service with luggage-carrying capability from McCarran Airport to the Fremont Street-area casinos."

The Westcliff Express now makes it from the airport to Bonneville Transit Center in 23 minutes for $2. I think that is as good as it's going to get. Unfortunately the headway is not good, as there is only 1 per hour in the afternoon.

April 17, 2011 8:43 PM Posted by Matt

I fly in and stay downtown about 6 times a year ( weekends mostly and for a week during the WSOP). I love downtown versus the strip, but there are several hurdles my friends don't like jumping through...among them the transportation from McCarran. Yes, you can get a shuttle down there...but if you are the first one in the van, it could be an hour before you are actually checked in at the hotel. A flat rate taxi would improve time and money output. Secondly, i've read many comments about East Fremont. I'm not a small guy, and have lived in cities most of my life...basically, I don't feel safe there after dark. I won't be down there spending money because I won't put myself in a situation that is unsafe....that is how you get mugged.
This is from someone who likes spending money in local businesses...but after dark, I stay up around the Experience.
Thirdly, I don't see Harrah's and their ilk coming downtown as a positive way to grow the area. If I wanted that experience, I would stay on the strip. The Nugget is a great example of how to grow business. When I walk into the poker room either John (the poker room manager) or one of the other managers say hi to me by name. The staff is friendly and the waitresses remember my drinks. Sound familiar? It's how the old Vegas ran things and as a manager of a multi-million dollar business, it's how I run things in my industry....superior customer service, reasonable (not cheap) prices and a great experience for the consumer.
Lastly, thanks for the salient points on how to build downtown. I'd love to see it grow even more...and with folks like yourself offering good ideas for growth, hopefully someone in power will listen.

April 18, 2011 10:47 AM Posted by Jeff Simpson

Thank you for reading the column and for your comments on downtown Las Vegas. I think your advice to operators: provide "superior customer service, reasonable (not cheap) prices and a great experience for the consumer," is spot on.
That advice applies to all businesses, of course, but is even more essential in a challenged market like downtown. The great thing is that the smaller size of the places downtown -- as you noted in your reference to the Nugget -- make it easier for their staffs to provide the personal touches that elevate customer service. We need more DT operators to invest in their staffs, training and properties to enhance their own customer service levels.