Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

January 28, 2011

Maybe You Guys Should Try Staying In The Hotel?

Posted by Hunter

I'm a bit of a daydreamer sometimes.

I love wandering the casino floor and when I do, I often think up crazy schemes and ideas about what I'd do if I ran the place.

One of these strokes of brilliance (!) came the last time I was staying at Wynn Las Vegas, strolling through the beautiful Tower Suites lobby.

If I was running one of these hotels, I'd require every single one of my managers to stay a few days in the hotel each year. Eat in the restaurants, use the spa, go to the pool, etc... You see things differently as a guest, even if you're already on property every day going to your office.

Sure, a lot of resort employees have done all of the above as part of an opening routine and some eat in the outlets frequently. I'm talking about a concrete program, done without fanfare or as some sort of special event.

Perhaps the higher up you go, the more nights per year you're supposed to spend doing this sort of thing - and I'm not talking about checking into villas or eating at Alex - it's more important to stay in the cheapest and most popular rooms, eating in the more reasonably priced restaurants. It's as a guest you see the little bits of damage and problems with the rooms, service and facilities that you'd never notice during a quick walk-through.

And for what it's worth, I don't mean a stunt like this, though that does sound humorous and I'm sure I'll watch it.

Do any of The Strip properties already do this? I've never heard of a similar program but maybe I've missed it. Do other large hotel companies do this?

Just a little quick update - these guys should be staying in their competitor's hotels too. The VP of Hotel Ops at XYZCore should be staying at the Arias, Bellagios, and Mandalay Bays of the world, as part of their job.


Read archived comments (17 so far)
January 28, 2011 10:30 AM Posted by Brian Fey

I think this is a great idea. I don't think Jim Murren or Steve Wynn should probably spend much time doing this, but for many other management members, It could be a huge eye opener.

January 28, 2011 10:44 AM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, for a lot of reasons, it probably wouldn't make sense for the top guy to do it...

January 28, 2011 11:06 AM Posted by Steven

This is a really good idea, as sometimes you do need to see things from the perspective of the average person.

To take this even further, they should have to spend time in the trenches during the year as well and see what their employees have to deal with on a daily basis. Spending most of your time in the executive suite, one tends to be a bit insulated from the day to day experiences of the average employee. When you're an executive and walking the floor, you get a completely different look at thinks than if you're out there working as a dealer, a pit boss, a server in one of the restaurants, a desk clerk, etc.

By the same token, you let some of the lower level employees see what things are like towards the top of the ladder to show that it's not always the cushy gig that people think being a high-level executive is.

As for staying at the properties of the competition is a very good idea to see what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong and see if they can take advantage of those shortcomings or see what they need to do to step up their own game.

January 28, 2011 11:14 AM Posted by Amy

What a good idea. I'd also be curious to know if any Vegas (or hotels in general) do this.

January 28, 2011 12:51 PM Posted by chuckmonster

I was told by Wynn top brass that Wynn Top Brass spent a few days staying at Aria & Mandarin early 2010, presumably before they commenced the WLV room designs.

January 28, 2011 4:01 PM Posted by Ted Newkirk

While an interesting show, Undercover Boss is similar to other reality shows in that there is limited reality. Expect the MGM segment to basically be a big infomercial for the hotel. However... it might also highlight that being a dealer is much harder than it looks.

I not only absolutely agree but have been saying for years to any of my friends in the business that middle and upper management should be mandated to go hit The Strip (including an overnight stay) once per quarter. No perks, no high end stuff. They have to walk between the properties (theirs and competitors, a prescribed set of places), wait to eat in line, wait to get drinks, see what buying show tickets is like, see what a Friday evening check-in line is like, and (as you noted) stay in the most average room on the property.

I'm not a stranger to VIP parties of better treatment because someone knows I'm coming. But 95% of the time I hit The Strip or downtown (which is often because I'm 3 miles by car from Center Strip), I'm just being Joe Tourist. Part of the herd. And I could probably write a book each year on simple (and reasonable cost-effective) ways that most all the properties could do to improve their visitor experience.

Hopefully, this idea will get traction.

January 28, 2011 6:49 PM Posted by parchedearth

This is a no-brainer that should be mandatory for mid-level executives at all properties. I believe most major hotel chains have teams or hire consultants that anonymously stay and rate the properties for internal purposes. Not sure whether MGM and Caesars do this, but they certainly could/should.

January 29, 2011 6:16 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Brilliant! Why companies bypass common sense is beyond me.

My big idea is to require every casino president and county commissioner to walk both sides of the Strip, from the Sahara to Mandalay Bay, once a year. Every trip I take to Las Vegas I think of this, while we are crammed in a panic-inducing mass, hoping we aren't pushed into the street, or a crazed drunkard doesn't climb the curb and squish us. Trapped behind strolling, stinking, loud & obnoxious, drunken geezers/foreigners/love birds/SoCal fratboys, as we are walking on the east side north of Harmon where the walk is two feet wide and, somehow, there's a Whores To Your Room news rack taking up HALF the walking space!

Although many casinos would say " Our property isn't a problem", they are avoiding the overall issue of uniformly safe and comfortable sidewalk standards being a long avoided necessity in one of the 10 most walked roadways in the World.

January 29, 2011 6:37 AM Posted by atdleft

This really is a great idea, and the casinos really should require mid and upper management to experience what most of their customers experience at their properties... And their competitors'. MGM, Caesars, Wynn, LVS, Station, and Boyd all stand to gain from learning more about what us "plebes" regularly encounter on the casino floor, in the restaurants, and in the hotel rooms.

January 29, 2011 6:24 PM Posted by atdleft

parched & Ted-

Good ideas. I hope someone on Las Vegas Blvd. South is listening.


"My big idea is to require every casino president and county commissioner to walk both sides of the Strip, from the Sahara to Mandalay Bay, once a year."

Interesting. You do know there's a LONG history of MGM, Caesars, & Wynn essentially getting whatever they wanted from the County Commission? As soon as Steve Wynn started complaining about "The Stripper-mobile" riding by his casinos in 2009, they were pulled off The Strip. And whenever MGM and Caesars have wanted to alter the sidewalk arrangement just outside the casinos, the commission agrees. However...

"as we are walking on the east side north of Harmon where the walk is two feet wide and, somehow, there's a Whores To Your Room news rack taking up HALF the walking space"

What the County Commission won't ever do, the federal courts are hardly ever too afraid to do. In the last ten years, there have been a number of law suits regarding free speech rights on The Strip and Fremont Street for everyone from antiwar protesters to street vendors to union organizers to porn-slappers. And time after time, the federal courts declare those two famous streets lined with big, flashy casinos "free speech zones" subject to the same First Amendment protections as any other sidewalk in America. So while the casinos (and the county/city) can try to clean up the neighboring sidewalks and make them as tourist-friendly as possible, they can not infringe upon the free speech rights of those street vendors selling everything from cold water bottles to nightclub "passes", or even those famed porn-slappers trying to give you that card telling you to call Candy and let her come right to your hotel room in 20 minutes or less.

January 31, 2011 9:22 PM Posted by jinx

I like the idea, definitely can see the benefit of it. Myself in my time away from the computer I find myself thinking of advertising campaigns for Las Vegas.

February 1, 2011 7:54 PM Posted by Sandyastrogl1de

They would still be recignized and afforded special treatment. I've worked in large corporations where I didn't know everyone in management, but word certainly got around when they stopped in. A better idea: stop half a dozen guests on their way out, ask their opinions of their stay. LISTEN. Comp them a room for their trouble.

February 10, 2011 9:58 AM Posted by doc_al

This is a great idea, but are you guys with contacts saying this doesn't happen already?

February 10, 2011 2:11 PM Posted by Hunter

Based on what I've heard, some executives do this informally. I've not heard of a formal, on-going program yet.

February 10, 2011 8:44 PM Posted by Carmen

It's an interesting way to look at things. Certainly a different angle. It reminds me a "Mystery shopper" assignment.

February 21, 2011 1:23 AM Posted by Darren

I am pretty sure this kind of stuff goes on all the time, just not with the top execs. I mean, the whole operation would be pointless is Steve Wynn decided to check in at one of his hotels, or dine at one of the restaurants - all of the staff would obviously know who he is, and hence be on their best behavior giving him priority over other guests - in this way, he would not be able to really see how hotel guests are treated on a day to day basis. However, hotels do send in "spys" if you will, to test out the hotel facilities, the restaurants etc and report back on their experiences.

February 25, 2011 5:26 PM Posted by GregoryZephyr

I think I heard several years ago that Ritz-Carlton offers something like 2-3 nights free per year to every employee at any of their properties. The only request was that they had to fill out a detailed survey of the experience.