In the United States, obesity has reached epidemic levels and people are looking to become more health conscious, and MGM Resorts International is taking its guests’ health seriously. They are reinforcing the company’s commitment to healthy living with the addition of Smart Plate®, a new program providing guests and visitors delicious and healthy menu items at 700 calories or less per dish. The exclusive calorie-conscious items are available on select in-room dining menus and at participating cafes. Smart Plate selections, designated on menus with a specialized logo, will be updated frequently, offering guests new choices throughout the year.
“The Smart Plate program is an excellent resource for Las Vegas visitors wanting to manage their healthy lifestyle on the go,” Mandalay Bay Vice President of Food and Beverage Sean DiCicco said in a release. “In order to positively impact eating decisions, it’s important to provide guests flexible options that cater to their dietary needs. Smart Plate menu items provide all of the essential nutrients required per meal while allowing guests the opportunity to stay on track and motivated throughout their travels.”
Guests can get healthy and experience the Smart Plate program at Café Bellagio with grilled Atlantic salmon served with a side of broccolini and topped with yellow tomato and cucumber salsa (690 calories, top). Over at Raffles Café at Mandalay Bay, try the blackened ahi tuna sandwich served with a side of fresh cut fruit (510 calories). Monte Carlo Resort’s The Café at Monte Carlo has a very healthy club wrap made with Boar’s Head ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo, served with a pickle and side of fresh cut fruit (620 calories). The Pyramid Café at Luxor is featuring chicken breast topped with balsamic glaze and served with a side of steamed vegetables and quinoa pilaf (580 calories). Market Café at Vdara is serving a primavera pizza made with summer squash, artichokes, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini, fresh basil, crumbled feta cheese, nonfat mozzarella cheese, black pepper, olive oil and raw garlic (700 calories). Further down the strip, the Garden Grill at Circus Circus has a healthy chef’s salad made with spring mix lettuce, turkey breast, ham, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, croutons, cabbage, carrots, hard-boiled eggs and red onions and topped with balsamic vinaigrette (680 calories)
In-Room Dining is getting resort guests healthy as well. The ARIA resort will deliver a cracked wheat fettuccine mixed with chicken fennel sausage, shrimp, asparagus and tomatoes (570 calories) right to your room. If staying at the MGM Grand why not call down and ask for their caprese sandwich made with buffalo mozzarella, yellow and red tomatoes, balsamic pesto aioli, fresh basil and pickled vegetables (690 calories). In-room dining at The Mirage has market fresh greens with chicken a spring lettuce mix, tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes, topped with balsamic vinaigrette and served with a fresh fruit cup (630 calories) that is sure to put a spring in your step. Not to be left out, The Monte Carlo Resort has a rich red bean chili bowl with cilantro, onions, and cheddar cheese (260 calories) that will warm you up.
Promoting healthy eating is one component of MGM Resorts’ greater healthy living efforts. In February 2013, the company announced the launch of ‘Healthy Eating, Healthy You,’ a complimentary mobile app, featuring more than 50 recipes from property chefs, including Julian Serrano, Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck. Calorie counts and other nutrition information are included with each recipe as well as photographs of the finished dish. Additional healthy living initiatives include:
MGM Resorts also partnered with The Jared Foundation on a comprehensive program to cultivate a healthier workforce, healthier schools and ultimately a healthier community. Founded by weight loss icon Jared ‘the Subway Guy’ Fogle, the foundation is committed to raising awareness and developing programs that educate and inspire kids to live healthier, happy lives.
Valuing time, cost and quality care, MGM Resorts introduced the Direct Care Health Plan option in 2012. The plan focuses on patient engagement with a strong emphasis on prevention, early detection and annual physicals.
MGM Resorts employees were introduced to “Jim’s Plate,” a program coined after Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International Jim Murren. The initiative ensures that all employee dining rooms offer healthy meals daily with recipes created exclusively by chefs at MGM Resorts properties. Each recipe has been reviewed by registered dieticians and is modeled after the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate.
Since 2011, MGM Resorts has partnered with Wellness Coaches, USA to provide on-site wellness coaches at five Las Vegas properties: Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, New York-New York, MGM Grand, and The Mirage. Wellness Coaches work with employees to build personalized health plans centered on reaching fitness goals and reducing health risk factors.
With all of these programs in place, The MGM Resorts guests and employees are sure to be the healthiest on the famed Las Vegas strip.
Pac-12 picks MGM executive Kliavkoff as next commissioner
The Pac-12 hired George Kliavkoff to be the conference's next commissioner Thursday, replacing Larry Scott with another college sports outsider and charging him with rebuilding the football brand.
Kliavkoff has been the president of sports and entertainment for MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas since 2018.
University of Oregon President Michael H. Schill, the chairman of the Pac-12's five-member search committee, called Kliavkoff “a highly experienced and pioneering sports, entertainment and digital media executive.”
Kliavkoff, 54, has previously worked with Major League Baseball Advanced Media and Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, and was also the chief digital officer with NBC Universal Cable.
“He is very much a new prototype for sports commissioner,” Schill said. “He is the sort of person we need for this decade and the decades beyond. Even without serving a day in the job, George has thoughtfully challenged us to envision what is possible for the Pac-12. What is possible for the coming era of new technologies and media.”
The Pac-12 university presidents conducted a secretive nearly four-month search with the executive search firm, TurnkeyZRG.
Some familiar names in college sports were among those speculated to be up for consideration by the Pac-12: former NCAA executive and NFL quarterback Oliver Luck, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Texas AD Chris Del Conte to name a few.
Instead, the Pac-12's next commissioner — much like its last —- comes to the conference with no previous experience as an administrator in college sports.
“With today's announcement, I believe that I am transitioning from the best job in entertainment to the best job in sports,” Kliavkoff said in a video conference with reporters. “I made this jump because I'm passionate about the mission of the Pac-12 Conference, to drive financial results, to protect and expand scholarships and support the other educational goals of our member institutions.”
That the Pac-12 found its new commissioner in Las Vegas is no coincidence.
The conference has been building a foothold in Las Vegas as it becomes a hot spot for sports, with two relatively new professional teams (the Golden Knights of the NHL and Raiders of the NFL) and a brand new football stadium.
The Pac-12 has already been staging its men's and women's basketball tournaments in Las Vegas, and its football championship is set to be held at Allegiant Stadium for the first time this season.
Kliavkoff said he has three priorities when he formally takes over as commissioner July 1.
“First, we will protect and support our student-athletes. Second, we will make decisions to optimize revenue for our member institutions, including renegotiating our media distribution deals. And third, we will do everything we can at the conference level to make our teams more competitive in revenue-generating sports, especially football," he said.
Kliavkoff said he supports expansion of the College Football Playoff and the implementation of consistent name, image and likeness guidelines across NCAA sports.
“We think that both CFP expansion and NIL legislation are good for college sports fans, good for our student-athletes, and can be a significant competitive advantage for the Pac-12,” he said.
Kliavkoff, a former Boston University rower, has also served on the Board of Governors of the WNBA.
Scott announced in January he would be stepping down at the end of June.
Scott’s 11-year tenure as commissioner began with the conference landing a transformational billion-dollar television deal, but the Pac-12 struggled to keep up with some of its Power Five conference peers when it came to revenue and exposure.
The Pac-12 launched a television network under Scott, but it never became a cash cow like those in the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference.
Scott, who came to the then-Pac-10 from the Women’s Tennis Association, was often criticized for being out of touch with campus-level decision makers in college sports and overspending on the conference office.
Kliavkoff said a meeting with all the Pac-12 athletic directors is already in the works as well as a plan for him to visit each campus.
He takes over as commissioner with Pac-12 football struggling to assert itself nationally.
The conference has placed a team in the College Football Playoff only twice since it began in 2014. Scott began pushing for playoff expansion late in his tenure, and now it seems to be heading in that direction. Kliavkoff pledged to help get it over the line.
The Pac-12 has not had a football national champion since Southern California in 2004 and a men's basketball champion since Arizona in 1997.
Kliavkoff called those droughts the conference's greatest weakness.
“We know where our bread is buttered,” he said. “We’re focused on the revenue sports and winning in football and men’s basketball.”
AP Sports Writer Anne M. Peterson contributed to this report.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
The online food delivery service announced that it was foregoing delivery fees for all orders. "We will also launch daily dedicated, targeted marketing campaigns—both in-app and via email—to promote delivery from local restaurants, especially those that are new to the app," UberEats' press release said.
Michael Neil Thomas/Shutterstock
MGM Resorts manages a ton of hotels and casinos all over the world, but especially in Las Vegas, which is completely shut down as a result of self-distancing and White House guidelines. So, what to do with the massive amount of food already in the enormous food preparation and inventory systems that feed and serves million of meals weekly? Donate them to local food banks.
MGM Resorts partnered with food banks and local organizations in eight states to distribute 480,000 pounds of food—equivalent to 400,000 meals—to those in need. They also donated $1 million of disaster relief to an employee emergency grant fund that will help employees pay bills and cover unexpected expenses.
Long-Standing Relationship with the BCLC
The full integration of the innovative responsible gaming program into the BetMGM platform is expected to complete later this year, BetMGM informed in the official press release, stressing on the importance for both BetMGM and MGM Resorts of responsible gaming education.
“As online gambling and sports betting increase in popularity, BCLC is so pleased that BetMGM is offering players more opportunities and resources to support healthy play with our GameSense program.”Lynda Cavanaugh, Interim CEO and President, BCLC
MGM Resorts has been utilizing GameSense for 4 years already by allowing customers at its US gaming properties access to educational resources and interactive touchscreens at its M life Rewards desks, an initiative which led to multiple awards for the gaming and hospitality operator as the National Council on Problem Gambling recognized its efforts for responsible gaming.
“BCLC’s commitment to player health extends well beyond British Columbia and we look forward to working with BetMGM to increase our mutual understanding about how best to provide players with the tools that enhance positive-play decisions.”Lynda Cavanaugh, Interim CEO and President, BCLC
As an extension of the long-standing relationship between the BCLC and MGM Resorts, GameSense will be made available to BetMGM customers across all current and future states where the mobile betting and iGaming brand operates.
With 4 years experience as an analyst, Julie—or ‘Jewels’, as we aptly refer to her in the office—is nothing short of a marvel-worthy in her attention to the forex and cryptocurrency space as she quickly became the first pick to co-pilot education to the masses with Mike.
MGM Resorts Get Healthy With 'Smart Plate' Initiative - Recipes
The US EPA’S Food Recovery Challenge asks for a commitment to three food diversion actions: prevention, donation and composting. Program participants share their stories.
BioCycle March 2012, Vol. 53, No. 3, p. 48
ARIA is part of CityCenter Las Vegas, a MGM Resort International property. It is the largest LEED Gold building in the world, and recycled 1,800 tons of food scraps in 2011.
MGM Resorts International, a global hospitality company, is striving to become more sustainable based on its philosophy of “Conserve Today, Protect Tomorrow.” All MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas, Nevada, including Bellagio, MGM Grand, CityCenter, Mandalay Bay and Mirage, have implemented robust recycling and waste management programs that include the capture of food scraps. MGM Resorts collects surplus food and food waste from its 165 restaurants and 11 employee dining rooms throughout its 11 world-famous Las Vegas Strip resorts. To make this happen, MGM’s executive chefs, food and beverage departments, and green teams came together to design the food waste diversion program.
MGM collects only preconsumer food waste, including vegetables and fruits, bread, meat and dairy and requires that most restaurants, buffets, and employee dining rooms separate food waste inside their kitchens. To increase the volume captured, MGM also employs a 24-hour recycling staff to further sort food scraps and all mixed recyclables.
Food recovery quantities at the MGM Resorts Strip properties have rapidly increased from 3,350 tons in 2007 to more than 14,000 tons in 2011. Two distinct end users collect and process the waste. The first is RC Farms, a pig farm in North Las Vegas that feeds 3,000 pigs per day with food collected from the Strip. The farm does additional sorting of the food waste, pulling out nonedible items. RC Farms follows state requirements for animal feed, cooking the food waste to required temperatures prior to feeding the pigs. The second service provider is A1-Organics, a local composting facility. Both companies have implemented systems for food waste collection that removes material off the property as quickly as possible — an essential component of the program. Currently, about half of the food waste collected goes to animal feed, and half to composting.
In recognition of MGM Resorts’ outstanding leadership in food scrap recycling, the USEPA’s WasteWise Program awarded the company with a 2011 Gold Achievement Award for Food Recovery.
Middlebury College has had a food waste composting program since 1993. In the dining hall, plate waste is run through a pulper to remove excess water.
Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont joined EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge in January 2012. The college was an early adopter of sustainable practices, initiating a composting program in 1993. Compacting roll-offs were placed outside each kitchen, and food waste was hauled 4.5 hours away to New York State for composting. Today, Middlebury College operates a composting site on campus. Approximately 7,000 meals are prepared daily and over 90 percent of food waste generated (approximately 370 tons in 2011) is diverted to produce 1,500 cubic yards of compost annually. Dining services is continually looking at generating less food waste by evaluating purchasing and preparation techniques.
A strong partnership between the dining services and facilities staff ensures a virtually contaminant free stream of food prep scraps, postconsumer food residuals, waxed cardboard, paper towels, napkins and waste paper. Plate waste is run through a pulper to remove excess water. A custom designed hook-lift truck collects the material from the kitchens daily, and takes it to the composting area, located approximately two miles from the center of campus on college lands mostly surrounded by fields and farmland. The food waste is mixed with horse manure and wood chips and composted in turned windrows. The finished product, affectionately known as “black gold,” is used on campus grounds, especially the athletic fields.
The compost operation is managed through the Office of Facilities Services and its Waste Management team consisting of five full-time staff members who oversee all waste-related activities on campus. All compost produced is utilized on campus. In 2010, Middlebury continued to expand food waste collection to its residence halls and offices. It avoided $101,475 in landfill fees by recycling 441.8 tons and composting 370 tons of food waste in 2011.
Middlebury College Dining Services is a member of the National Association of College and University Food Services. The college’s dining director, Matthew Biette, was instrumental in launching the Association’s Sustainability Awards this past August. The awards are designed to support the globally accepted triple bottom line philosophy, a method of evaluating operational performance by measuring financial success as well as environmental sustainability and social responsibility, and fit seamlessly with EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. They will be presented for the first time in July 2012 at the Association’s annual conference being held in Boston, Massachusetts.
New Seasons Market staff spurred the company to create a more comprehensive composting program. In 2011, its stores diverted 2,410 tons of food waste.
New Seasons Market
New Seasons Market is a locally owned and operated grocery with 12 locations employing over 2,200 staff in the Portland Metro region of Oregon. The company has been actively involved in food waste prevention, donation and composting programs for a number of years. Each New Seasons Market store prioritizes food waste prevention. “Hunger and access to nutritious food is at epidemic proportions and the wasting of food taxes food production in ways that cannot be sustained,” Heather Schmidt, New Seasons Market’s Sustainability Manager. “We don’t want any food to go to waste and we also want to be environmentally responsible.”
Food that is still nutritious and safe, but can no longer be sold, is donated. Each store donates to up to four Oregon Food Bank-approved organizations on a weekly basis. Food and product are also donated to staff through the Blue-Slip Program, a system that allows staff to take home product with the approval of a manager. Last year, an estimated 1,040 tons of edible food were donated. In addition, New Seasons Market donates 10 percent of its after-tax profits back to the local community, with an emphasis on fighting hunger, protecting the environment and educating youth.
New Seasons Market began separating organics for composting in 2003. Four years later, the company stepped up its effort with the help of the new Portland Composts! program and company-wide Green Teams to support more comprehensive waste prevention and diversion. Its garbage was cut and organics diversion to composting increased by 109 percent. “It was obvious that people were on board and staff were excited about doing a better job, but we needed a coordinated, easy-to-use system to make prevention and diversion more successful,” explains Schmidt.
She worked with one store at a time using a phased approach that first targeted high impact departments with the greatest waste. Color-coded containers (green for compost, blue for recycling, and brown or black for garbage) were placed at strategic points of waste generation and signage and training materials were created internally to match both the waste materials and the company’s graphic style. In addition to creating a consistent system across all stores, Green Teams were key in providing the necessary leadership to coordinate a more robust program. Green Team Committees represent each department in the store and act as liaisons and support waste diversion within their department. In 2011, New Seasons Market diverted 2,410 tons of food waste to composting.
North Texas Food Bank
The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) in Dallas receives donations of food that would otherwise be wasted from retail stores, manufacturers, distributors and other sources in the supply chain. The Food Bank makes donations available through its network of 300 Member Agencies and over 1,000 feeding and education programs in 13 North Texas counties, including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, after-school programs, senior citizen centers and other social service centers. Member Agencies receive food from the Food Bank and distribute it to North Texans in need through their pantry and on-site meal programs. The NTFB supplements these donations with over $4 million in purchases of nutritious staples, such as milk, eggs, tuna, beans and pasta as well as fresh produce.
Its new three-year strategy, ReThink Hunger, acknowledges that the issue of hunger has become larger and far more complex. With long-term unemployment, poverty, hunger and food insecurity rates at or near all-time highs, simply moving more food out the door cannot be the only solution. The ReThink Hunger initiative encompasses: Fifty percent more fresh produce and 100 percent increase in retail store food donations (more protein) Adding a second distribution center with 25,000 square feet of cold storage to support more produce and protein and Establishing The Hunger Center of North Texas to learn more about the needs of people struggling with hunger and what works. This allows NTFB to more accurately measure the outcome of the Food Bank’s programs and identify new ways to address needs in the community.
In terms of produce that is no longer fit for human consumption, NTFB works with several pig farmers to take that material. It also partners with organizations that can use the compostable materials, such as Paul Quinn College, also in Dallas, which recently transformed its football field into a 2-acre urban farm (see sidebar in this issue’s Community Sustainability feature).
Kitchen staff at Petco Park in San Diego consider composting second nature. The stadium started a food waste diversion program in 2005 to save money on its disposal fees.
Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, has been composting food scraps since 2005. Like many other organizations, Petco Park began composting to save money — not in response to the “green” buzz around food composting. It pays for trash disposal by the ton, and the wet, heavy food contributed significantly to its hauling bill. Given that the stadium’s food waste is less expensive to haul to a composting facility than to the landfill, the ballpark initiated a collection program in its main kitchen. By the end of 2005, 60 tons of food waste were diverted and close to $6,000 in hauling costs were saved.
During the 2007 season, the contracted concession group, DNC Sportservice, expanded the program from the main kitchen to all food service areas throughout the ballpark. With assistance from Hines, the facility management company, as well as its waste hauler, Waste Management, the ballpark installed proper equipment to facilitate a successful expansion. Labels and instructions were put on compost bins to ensure employees knew how to dispose of excess food properly. Additionally, Petco Park initiated a program where designated staff check the green bins after every game to ensure that minimal contamination, such as plastic, is sent to The Greenery, the city of San Diego’s composting facility (see “Large-Scale Generators Succeed With Organics Diversion,” November 2011). By the end of 2007, DNC Sportservice diverted 92 tons, saving over $9,000 in hauling costs. Once the concession group saw the amount of surplus food, it changed purchasing practices, saving money and reducing the amount of waste generated.
Fast forward to 2012 and the kitchen staff now considers composting second nature. Everything, from the small scraps of food from the dishwashing stations to the bits that are rinsed out of the bins at the end of each night, is captured and diverted. Petco Park also donates edible food to the San Diego Rescue Mission, a local homeless shelter. In 2011, staff at Petco Park increased landfill diversion to 164 tons, and brought total savings since 2005 to over $75,000. In 2011, EPA recognized Petco Park for its outstanding work to reduce excess food from reaching landfills.
As part of the “cultural revolution” at SUPERVALU, associates and store directors are encouraged to “know their garbage.” Waste audits (top) are a starting point to see the potential for reuse and recovery. Recycling stations (below) are set up by individual stores and can be as simple as reusing boxes to capture materials (inset).
In 2007, two key members of SUPERVALU’s environmental and facilities team began an in-depth analysis of the waste stream from the company’s Albertsons grocery stores in Southern California. The analysis was part of a project focused on understanding the business value of recycling. Their work would kick off a chain of events that is now fundamentally redefining the entire company’s culture and accelerating its focus on waste reduction.
Historically, economic lifecycles have been linear systems where natural resources are used to make food and consumer goods and, once consumed, packaging and organic waste are dumped into landfills. At SUPERVALU, the company has come to understand that what it’s really throwing away is money, represented as embedded energy in a product’s creation and a lost opportunity to reuse or recycle the resources going to landfill.
A cultural revolution is underway within SUPERVALU. In 2010 and 2011, for the first time in the company’s history, recycling income was greater than landfill expenses. Stores across the country are participating in food bank donation programs, giving literally millions of meals to hungry people through food that would have otherwise gone to waste. In each region, the company is constantly looking for ways to divert food waste and organic material to secondary uses, including composting and animal feed.
SUPERVALU is encouraging associates and store directors to “know their garbage.” The company wants them to understand everything in the waste stream, because something is triggered when associates see their garbage during a waste audit — they begin to recognize the potential. Through these programs, SUPERVALU found that with operational changes such as requiring various departments in stores to source separate, and a commitment at the store-level, 90 percent or more of the “waste” from a typical grocery store can be reused, donated to feed people in need or recycled. What initially may begin as an annoying change in practices quickly becomes the “new normal” in how “wastes” are viewed and handled.
By changing buying practices, SUPERVALU is attempting to create a waste (resource) stream that is 100 percent reusable or recyclable. For example, the company is working with produce suppliers to package grapes in reusable crates, versus polystyrene, which is not a universally recycled material. Supporting a zero waste to landfill goal also has had profound effects in other areas, such as adopting zero waste policies for energy and water. In the final analysis, SUPERVALU believes that what we waste determines what we value. SUPERVALU believes in valuing everything and wasting nothing.
The University of Texas at Arlington incorporates an organic community garden (inset) and a composting site as part of its commitment to be a sustainable campus. Diverted food waste includes coffee grounds and filters, fruit peels, leftover salads and boiled eggshells (above).
University Of Texas At Arlington
The University of Texas (UT) Arlington incorporates an organic community garden and a composting site as part of its commitment to be a sustainable campus and promotes reuse and recycling. The community garden is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between UT Arlington and the city of Arlington. It has helped strengthen the university’s bonds with the surrounding community, while encouraging healthy, more sustainable food options. Since its inception in spring 2011, the garden has donated over 800 pounds of food to the Mission Arlington, a church in the city. The garden also incorporates rainwater-harvesting techniques to promote water conservation.
The community garden complements the UT Arlington composting program, which began in 2003 and is an outstanding learning tool and model for others considering similar programs. UT-Arlington is a 450-acre campus and has a student, faculty and staff population of more than 34,000 people. A large portion of its wastes are landscape debris, leaves and food generated from dining services. Food items that are collected and composted include coffee grounds and paper coffee filters, fruit peels and skins, leftover salads and boiled eggshells.
In 2006, UT Arlington received a $135,000 grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the North Central Texas Council of Governments to purchase an in-vessel composting drum and equipment to improve efficiency and expansion of its recycling and composting programs. Due to challenges in operating the drum, it is not used for actual composting. Instead, kitchen waste and coffee grounds are weighed and mixed when they arrive, then added to the newest pile in layers roughly 2-inches thick and covered with 6- to 8-inches of dried leaves. The leaves are watered three to five times as thin layers are added. Once the pile reaches a height of 3-feet, it is mixed and moved with a skid-loader water is added if needed. Piles are turned 3 to 4 more times as time and space permit.
The composting program is operated by the Grounds Department in the Office of Facilities Management. Finished compost is screened and recycled back into campus landscaping, the community garden and recreational fields. In 2010, 40,152 lbs of food waste, 19,743 lbs of coffee grounds, 27,800 lbs of leaves and, 12,000 lbs of grass were composted. In 2011, 61,566 lbs of food and landscape debris were composted.
Ashley Zanolli is a senior environmental engineer with organics management expertise in the EPA Region 10 Seattle office. She is leading the implementation of EPA’s Sustainable Food Management Initiative in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and works nationally to help develop value-added tools for Food Recovery Challenge partners. If you are interested in joining the FRC, have a case study to share or have questions, please reach out to your regional EPA contact listed in the table. BioCycle thanks the following contributors to the article: Brad Tomm, MGM Resorts International, Heather Schmidt, New Seasons, Lauren Banta and Kim Smith, North Texas Food Bank, Pete Pearson, SUPERVALU, Alina Talbott, Hines Interests, LP (Petco Park), and Meghna Tare, University of Texas Arlington, as well as Christine Beiling (EPA Region 1) and Laura Moreno, (EPA Region 9).
Welcome to a New Era of Casino Dining
In the age of eatertainment, marrying one-of-a-kind experiences to superior F&B programs keeps guests rolling in.
On the first weekend of the new year, The Mayfair Supper Club opened its doors within the Bellagio resort and casino on Las Vegas’s famed Strip. In a city of high rollers and glitzy spectacle, restaurant debuts aren’t typically a noteworthy occasion. But The Mayfair Supper Club is an altogether different affair.
“It’s not a restaurant, and it’s not a club it’s a place where dining is just the beginning,” says Dominique Bertolone, vice president of development, food-and-beverage strategy, MGM Resorts International, which leases the Bellagio and owns dozens of other properties. “A lot of people told us they love our restaurants, they love our shows, they love our nightclubs, but they wish they could get all of that in one place.”
The Mayfair offers dinner and live musical performances throughout the night. There’s no charge for the performance, but it is specifically designed to engage and connect with guests. “This is part of our strategy of evolving and bringing new and exciting things to our guests,” Bertolone says. “We want people to come and have an experience.”
In the foodie age, the sumptuous steakhouses and all-you-can-eat buffets of yesteryear no longer hit the mark. Top-name chefs, global cuisine, and cutting-edge cooking styles are all expected by savvy consumers—particularly those in the extravagant state of mind that vacations and casino visits inspire.
To that end, many casinos—both on the Strip and beyond—are leaning into the eatertainment trend by marrying exceptional F&B programs to unique experiences.
In Reno, Nevada, The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa is home to a number of on-site dining options including its signature steakhouse and the Sushi bar on the Sky Terrace.
Raising the stakes
At Mystique Asian Restaurant & Lounge, the goal is to both entertain and delight the guest, says executive chef Anthony Micari. The restaurant opened within the Encore Boston Harbor luxury resort and casino in Everett, Massachusetts, last June.
Serving sushi, large-format dishes, and Japanese-inspired cuisine, tapas-style, Mystique spans some 16,400 square feet and includes robata (fireside cooking), an open kitchen, and private dining areas. The lavish lounge is adorned with Asian-inspired décor curated from around the world.
Global flourishes in a restaurant’s cuisine and design are also in sync with the times. The casino customer has changed guests are now better traveled with high expectations for food and service quality, Bertolone says.
“We spend an incredible amount of time on details. From the moment you step inside, we have to transport you and make you feel you’re in a different environment. We have to think every day about how can we get better and provide a better, more customized experience,” Bertolone adds. “That’s the biggest challenge in Vegas.”
To stay relevant, restaurants within these establishments need to think about the trends of tomorrow, Bertolone adds. He and his team spend a lot of time traveling the world for inspiration and combing through consumer analytics to stay ahead of the curve.
Besting the competition—or at the very least, keeping pace with consumers—is a challenge for all restaurants, but the Sin City raises the stakes.
“Every day you have to wow the guest. Every day is a new day, and there’s no room for error. It’s very important to create this ‘wow’ moment, this unique experience for our guests—and it’s the only way we can create loyalty,” Bertolone says.
Celebrity chefs are one route to conjuring awe in patrons. Over the last several years, industry luminaries including José Andrés and Marcus Samuelsson have opened shop in Las Vegas, often drawing larger crowds than their standalone restaurants elsewhere.
Another way to build a loyal following is through creating lifestyle restaurants so it’s not about the name of the chef or the restaurant but rather the social influence the brand has. This strategy, Bertolone explains, will be a growing part of what MGM Resorts offers going forward, as reflected in its newly opened restaurant, The Mayfair.
Boasting the “best brunch in Vegas,” Sadelle’s Cafe is among the more than two dozen restaurants at the Bellagio.
Il Mulino New York operates more than a dozen restaurants under various brands across the country, including an outpost in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The latter was USA Today’s No. 1 casino restaurant in the 10 Best Readers’ Choice poll last year.
“The casino business has changed, and Il Mulino has that brand-name appeal nationwide. A consumer knows what they’re getting,” says Brian Galligan, president of Il Mulino. “We’re not chef-driven so [our restaurant] doesn’t change if the chef quits or leaves customers come for the brandname appeal.” The original Il Mulino New York had been a mainstay of Greenwich Village for decades when Galligan partnered with the independent restaurant to streamline operations and expand its footprint.
Next door to the Atlantic City location of Il Mulino New York stands Trattoria Il Mulino—a more casual establishment that accordingly attracts a different crowd. Galligan says that across the board, casino dining has become more laid-back with a looser dress code, which helps drive business to establishments like Trattoria Il Mulino.
As another incentive, the hotel offers packages that include dining. There’s also a comp system, whereby casino-goers earn points as they play, which they can turn into dining dollars. Guests tend to use these at Il Mulino New York, he says, and those customers tend to splurge a little more, he adds. “Flexibility is important to our guests.”
At the Encore Boston Harbor, Mystique welcomes a diverse crowd who aren’t always sure what to expect. “You’re responding to someone who’s never seen this style of dining before. With a free-flowing kitchen, the food just keeps coming as it’s ready, and people often forget how much food they’ve ordered. They want to try as many dishes as possible and taste more while sampling cocktails,” Micari says.
Orders are about 60 percent food and 40 percent beverage. “Guests eat and drink more because there’s so much variety, and we have a very fun atmosphere,” he adds.
To keep things exciting, Micari changes the menu seasonally. He doesn’t do a complete overhaul, but rather makes food heartier for the winter and employs more fresh produce in the spring.
With outposts in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, Il Mulino serves elevated Italian plates, like Ravioli ai Porcini with Champagne Truffle Cream Sauce.
Bumping up the buffet
At Toucan Charlie’s Buffet & Grille at Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nevada, whole roasted pigs are arranged next to an elaborate display of dim sum specialties. Adjacent to these options are other dishes including a charcuterie platter. Buffet dining at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa is a far cry from the old days of steam tables that hold subpar foods for hours on end.
Executive chef Bob Katausky has witnessed the shift firsthand. His career spans 43 years in casino restaurants, more than 30 of which have been spent at the Atlantis Resort. “Buffets have really increased in quality, and food has gone upscale exponentially,” he says. “Years ago when you cooked food, you’d take it out to the buffet. Now it’s cooked fresh several times a day.”
Specialty stations are an integral part of the Toucan Charlie’s Buffet. In addition to the usual carving and build-your-own-omelet areas, it includes stations for custom salads, fajitas, pupusas, and carne asada, plus a Mongolian grill.
Last year, the Atlantis Buffet nabbed the No. 4 spot on the USA Today poll, which Katausky credits to great food and dining entertainment. “You have to use a quality product. And we do tableside cooking and entertainment with Steak Diane and Caesar Salad, liquid nitrogen for desserts, bananas foster, [and more].”
Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, Washington, just south of Seattle, is in the middle of a two-year renovation that includes a complete overhaul of its dining program. Owned and operated by the eponymous Muckleshoot tribe, the property will soon add a hotel and event center while also updating each of its three on-site restaurants.
“Casino food and beverage have changed dramatically over the years,” says executive director of resort operations, Sam Askew. “You’ve seen a renaissance of sorts take place, whereby casino operators now understand food-and-beverage venues can be successful at offering great meals, great service, and great experiences, and not just be an ancillary amenity that you had to have to keep people in the casino. Food and beverage now lead in some areas as the reason why people come to a casino property.”
There’s been a change in attitude from guests over the years, too, he says. “They now understand that buffets of old were simply a means to an end: to get fueled and move in and move out. Guest expectations now are much more elevated. They want a sit-down dining experience in terms of labor and options within the buffet,” Askew adds.
The Mayfair’s sister concept, Sadelle’s, serves eye-catching bagel and lox towers.
Leaning into eatertainment
The renovations at Muckleshoot will bring forth a more contemporary, elevated feel—one that draws on the area’s cultural heritage. The addition of a firepit not only imbues a cozy feel, it also expands the culinary program. “We’ll use traditional styles of coastal Salish people to cook salmon, shellfish, and vegetables,” Askew says.
The buffet area is also being given an extensive facelift, with a Northwest aesthetic thanks to cedar boughs, upscale products like travertine tile, and some natural woods and colors. And instead of the traditional layout with guests selecting from already-prepared dishes, diners will be offered more customized options ranging from ramen and pho to pasta and crepes.
“Where else can you add a 45-day, dry-aged steak to your buffet meal? How about Peking duck?” Askew says.
By rethinking the typical buffet, Muckleshoot will also cut waste. Smaller portions ensure guests receive the freshest foods at the proper temperatures.
These behind-the-scenes measures, while seemingly minor, have a major impact on the overall guest experience. It’s all part of the larger eatertainment trend—one that casinos seemed destined to champion.
“We sprinkle in these great unexpected moments, whether in design of a venue, plate presentation, meal types, cultural tie-ins, or even live entertainment,” Askew says.
MGM Resorts: Efficiency Education App
MGM Resort International’s sustainability and operating staff have long focused on retrofitting and upgrading building equipment, but recognized the opportunity to drive sustainable behavioral change throughout their employee base. MGM Resorts serves as the largest employer in the state of Nevada with 62,000 employees.
Each property has a sustainability ambassador and a Green Team, yet leadership realized the need for a new strategy to engage individual employees across various functional areas and jobs. To support this mission, MGM Resorts’ developed a highly interactive, custom web-based platform called MY Green Advantage to educate and encourage efficiency actions among employees. By utilizing a program that engages individual employees in changing their behavior to improve efficiency, MGM Resorts is able to reach more aggressive energy and water conservation goals.
Since 2013, MGM Resorts employees have completed almost 700,000 efficiency actions resulting in estimated savings of over 7 million kWh of energy, 200,000 gallons of fuel, 16 million gallons of water, and 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions through 2014.
MY Green Advantage has been integrated into MGM Resorts’ corporate strategic plan and policies. In 2014, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategic goals were declared for all MGM Resorts’ properties. Each resort’s goals include achieving at least 15% staff participation in MY Green Advantage. MGM Resorts’ company-wide CSR strategic goals are also aligned with executive incentive programs.
MGM Resorts partnered with WeSpire, a sustainability software company, to create MY Green Advantage. The idea was to transform sustainability from a serious topic into a fun, energizing initiative with real impacts. The customized web-based platform engages employees using social media, gamification, and sustainability education to drive behavioral change at home and at work.
Not only does the tool present a customized list of suggested sustainability actions for each user based on the property where they work, it also quantifies environmental impacts by calculating energy, fuel, water, waste, air pollutant emissions, and dollar savings from each action carried out by an employee. Quantifying the impact of each action makes the platform’s benefits more tangible and further motivates users.
Employees earn points, recognition, and rewards for actions they complete. Users can view their own activities and their ranking as individuals compared with other individuals, or as a resort-level group compared with other MGM Resorts’ properties. They can also view and comment on their peers’ activities through the program, which is optimized for mobile use so that those who have smartphones can access it on the go.
MY Green Advantage taps into the power of healthy competition by encouraging employees to take pride in outdoing their peers for a good cause. MGM Resorts has a strong culture of competitive spirit, so this is a good cultural fit for the company. The program attracts not only employees who have an inherent interest in environmental protection but also those who are naturally competitive.
In addition to capitalizing on friendly competition, MGM Resorts uses recognition to drive additional employee energy actions. The company’s sustainability team has learned that recognition is as valuable to employees as financial or material rewards. The team expected to need a large annual budget for incentives to persuade employees to participate in the program, but has found that invitations to special events, back-of-house “walls of fame”, inclusion in special sustainability projects and working groups, and profiling employees in property newsletters and executive meetings to be just as motivating as flat screen TVs and gift certificates.
MY Green Advantage was launched very strategically via a multi-layered outreach approach over the course of a full year. MGM Resorts’ Corporate Sustainability Division was thoughtful about how they presented and promoted the program to internal stakeholders and employees.
First, the sustainability team garnered executive support by presenting to each property’s operating committee, collecting their feedback, and tailoring the launch based on their operational knowledge. The company’s Executive Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, which is comprised of C-level executives, Property Presidents, and the Board of Directors, was also engaged in the process.
Through these conversations, the sustainability team recognized and worked to overcome several potential barriers to employee participation in MY Green Advantage:
- Many MGM employees do not have desk jobs with regular access to computers. To overcome this, MY Green Advantage was installed on computer kiosks at each property. Many of the kiosks were already available for employees to receive company news and review benefits information, but some entirely new kiosks just for MY Green Advantage were installed in quiet areas and break rooms to ensure easy access during employee breaks. Employees can also access the platform from their mobile devices and home computers.
- The MY Green Advantage application requires an email address for registration, but over 80% of MGM Resorts employees do not have company email. This issue was addressed by allowing employees to use a personal email address or use MY Green Advantage kiosks to create a new personal email account in order to participate in MY Green Advantage.
- English is a second language for 32% of MGM Resorts employees. To address the language barrier, the company is working to internationalize MY Green Advantage, which has made content on the platform available in Spanish.
Each property was then responsible for launching the platform to its own employees with a comprehensive online and offline communication plan leading up a launch event. Following each launch event, properties deployed various campaigns to drive immediate and ongoing engagement with the platform.
New MGM Resorts’ employees are introduced to MY Green Advantage on their first day on the job during the company’s corporate orientation. The tool’s importance is then continually reinforced throughout the employee experience from the property orientation to company events.
Following the launch events, MGM Resorts has kept employees engaged by refreshing content regularly. The tool contains over 700 different suggested actions, it is able to provide fresh content to users instead of displaying the same actions over and over – it would take an employee a long time to cycle through all the actions available. The MGM Resorts sustainability team has found that because of these features, interest in MY Green Advantage is self-perpetuating and employees naturally remain engaged over time.
Companywide content also changes in accordance with environmental events like Earth Day, World Water Day, and America Recycles Day. Property-specific content is updated to remain relevant to each property’s environmental strategic goals and each property designs and manages its own contests and campaigns, which can include a focus on actions of a particular category (for example, water) in a certain month or other time-frame.
MY Green Advantage sign-in page. It can also be viewed at mygreenadvantage.com.
Image of Suggested and Trending Actions Page in MY Green Advantage
What restaurants are doing
Perhaps the most telling sign, though, is what buffet restaurants are doing in the face of coronavirus.
Take, for example, buffet restaurant Golden Corral. Restaurant Business reported the chain is gradually reopening some locations, although they&rsquore turning the old business model on its head: Diners will now experience cafeteria-style dining, and employees will serve customers instead of allowing customers to serve themselves.
While that&rsquos true for most locations, others will shift to a family-style table service model.
Sadly, other restaurants weren&rsquot able to weather the storm. Sweet Tomatoes, an all-you-can-eat chain known for buffet soups, salad and desserts, will be shutting down all of its locations, Restaurant Business also reported. In light of new FDA regulations, they said there was &ldquono way to stop the accrual.&rdquo
Even buffets and self-serve stations at supermarkets around the country have been replaced by prepackaged items. You can forget the bag-your-own nuts and box-your-own olives for a while.
MGM, Culinary say lawsuit issues resolved with SB4
MGM Resorts International and Culinary Local 226 celebrated new worker protection legislation.
MGM Resorts International and Culinary Local 226 celebrated new worker protection legislation in a joint statement Monday.
The statement was published less than a week after the Nevada Assembly passed Senate Bill 4, which in part mandates casinos and hotels in Las Vegas and Reno adopt additional health and safety protocols. This includes enhanced cleaning procedures, social distancing, free testing for all workers before returning to work and paid time off for workers in quarantine, among other requirements.
The bill also prevents people who contract COVID-19 from suing most businesses, as long as they adhere to any controlling health measures in effect.
The joint statement says the health and safety of workers and guests is a top priority for both the union and MGM, Nevada’s largest private employer.
It also points out that the two have resolved a lawsuit that accused the the casino operator of failing to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have resolved the lawsuit and the underlying grievances, and we have worked together to get first-in-the- nation legislation to protect workers in the hospitality industry,” the statement read. “While this legislation is an important first step, the Culinary Union and MGM Resorts look forward to addressing health and safety issues for the protection and benefit of workers, guests, and the gaming industry.”
The union originally dropped its lawsuit against MGM in late July, after accusing the company of not offering safe working conditions within Sadelle’s Cafe at Bellagio and The Signature at the MGM Grand.
MGM Resorts filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on July 7, claiming that, despite communicating with union leadership more than 60 times during and after the casino shutdowns, the union never asked MGM to adopt specific health and safety standards or claimed the company’s health and safety protocols were insufficient.
On July 20, the union said it moved to dismiss the lawsuits because it had scheduled arbitration with MGM.
How Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton and MGM Are Evolving Their Meetings Experience
With healthy advance bookings for meetings forecasted through 2018, the major hospitality brands are showing a sudden surge of creativity to engage meeting planners in more compelling ways similar to leisure travel audiences.
At the IMEX America meetings industry trade show in Las Vegas this month, we spoke with top group sales and marketing executives at Marriott International, Hyatt Hotels, Hilton Worldwide, and MGM Resorts International to learn how the global brands are developing strategy around their meeting platforms heading into 2017.
“I think we’re still in a healthy phase in the meetings business because occupancy levels are at an all-time high, and there’s a shift with corporate buyers doing more multi-years,” said Brian King, global brand and sales officer for Marriott International. “Typically, corporate is a couple years out and maybe one contract at a time, but because demand has been so strong, if you want the space, the smart planner is going to do a multi-year. So we’re seeing a longer horizon than we’ve seen before.”
At the same time, King told Skift that the days of planners booking hotel meetings solely on “rates, dates, and space are over.” Even though business is good and it’s still a seller’s market, planners are more demanding because their delegates are more demanding. Blame it on Millennials, social media, lifestyle hotels, whatever, but people are tired of boring banquets in big beige boxes.
“It’s not just 72-inch rounds and chicken breasts anymore,” King said. “These are experience-driven consumers, and planners are saying, ‘My attendee base is asking for things that they’ve never asked for before.’ That’s really where our Meetings Imagined platform came from a few years ago. It was an answer to planners who told us, ‘I’m getting demands from my attendees and I’m not sure what to do.'”
Post-Merger Marriott Meetings
Since the Marriott-Starwood merger, planners have been concerned that less competition would drive higher group rates. King dispensed with the idea, saying, “The reality is the hotels are usually owned by individual owners, and every hotel is a micro-market unto itself. I think some planners see that as a concern, and I understand that, but pricing is really driven based on the specific market around the individual property.”
Marriott recently partnered with LG Electronics to develop the LG Studio meeting space, which includes a full-service kitchen outfitted with LG appliances. This has been a long time in the making, and there’s a lot of demand because we’ve all had enough granola bars and bagels during meeting breaks.
The goal is to recreate a residential kitchen atmosphere in Marriott’s prefunction meeting space for chefs to prepare items in front of attendees. So far, the LG Studio prototype is only up and running at Marriott’s M Beta Hotel in Charlotte, but King says more will be launching in new-build properties, including Marriott Marquis Houston, Marriott Marquis Chicago, Marriott Irvine Spectrum, and others in Asia.
He added that Marriott will also begin retrofitting existing properties in 2017 where it’s economically viable.
“LG Studio is based on the idea of offering attendees what we call ‘bite-sized learnings,'” said King. “In Charlotte, our chef is out there in a fully built kitchen, and you kinda want to settle in and have a glass of wine and make dinner. And not only is the food on display, but the chef is telling the story about the local rubs and barbecue techniques that take place in Charlotte. That’s a very, very different meeting experience than coffee and donuts.”
Marriott, however, has been aggressively rolling out all kinds of initiatives the last few years but they don’t always stick. Remember the LinkedIn-connected lobby desk and 6 Degrees app in Boston? The LG Studio sounds like a great idea, but will it scale? These kitchens are not inexpensive to install or easy to operate in high-compression areas.
“Sometimes we’re not sure with new test initiatives what will scale, but we know LG Studio will scale,” King answered. “First, we want to get it out into the market and get feedback, and that’s the biggest shift you’re seeing with Marriott today. We never used to talk about these early innovations until they were so ready, and then we deployed them everywhere. But what we’re hearing from customers is, ‘We like to see that you’re trying new things, and maybe it doesn’t work out, but we know you’re innovating.’ It was actually to our detriment before that we had everything buttoned up, and frankly, that’s something we learned from Starwood.”
Hyatt Guest Experience Management
Hyatt Hotels has spent the last year rolling out its new Hyatt GEM (guest experience management) initiative throughout its full-service hotels worldwide. According to Gus Vonderheide, VP of global sales for the Americas at Hyatt, the GEM program gives all hotel associates access to a central database where they can enter information on guests’ personal preferences.
This is already happening at some of the luxury hotel brands, mostly with input from senior executives, butlers, and concierges. It’s notable, however, that Hyatt is attempting to scale this globally to personalize the guest experience, and it’s encouraging all staff to participate.
Vonderheide emphasized that the mass-personalization process is still in beta. Specific guest information is spelled out in a pre-arrival report communicated throughout the property. He told us that every Hyatt GM in the world is now up to speed on GEM, and, “It’s very much ingrained in our culture.”
It will be interesting to see how and if this works in a significant way, above and beyond the information collected in any average guest loyalty program. The training and implementation across hundreds of Hyatt-managed hotels, and eventually franchises, is ambitious.
“It’s really a reverse perspective about how we can make a difference in our customers’ lives by figuring out ways to pull in technology with a human touch and be more involved,” said Vonderheide. “We can now start collecting that information in a subtle manner, whether it’s that you like arts and culture, or a feather pillow, or a martini with two olives. So when you check into a hotel in Dallas or Sydney, you’re like, ‘Wow, Hyatt has figured me out. They know I like to hike, and there’s an outdoors magazine in my room.'”
We asked Vonderheide when Hyatt is going to promote GEM to the leisure and group markets as a brand-wide initiative. He said there hasn’t been a date scheduled for any roll-out yet due to the complexity of the program.
Hyatt launched another new initiative in North America. Meeting professionals with citywide groups don’t want to have to start over explaining their needs every time they move from city to city. So for Hyatt’s top customers, the brand developed a new National Event Planning manager position. These are people who fly in ahead of planners to educate hotel staff about a group’s specific needs.
“So if we’ve got a convention that’s going to be in Seattle, Dallas, and New Orleans, what if we had someone from the corporate level who could actually work with them on-property?” asked Vonderheide. “They get to know the staff, and know what the hot buttons are, so as soon as the planner arrives they’re up and running.”
Hilton Promotes Meeting ‘WowMakers’
Coming out of the recession, Hilton Worldwide launched its online Connect+ platform in 2013 to reinforce the business case for face-to-face meetings and events. Since then, Hilton has continued to roll out various meetings-themed content platforms, culminating this month with the launch of the newly revamped Meetings.Hilton.com portal and the introduction of the “WowMakers” initiative.
The WowMakers webpages and messaging strategy feature 10 voice recordings of meeting and incentive travel planners who’ve organized highly challenging, complex, and/or creative programs around the world. That’s supplemented with new content focusing on sector-specific meetings, and new tools to streamline the request-for-proposal process.
“When we took a look at the beginning of this year about where the industry was at, we came up with a few new things,” said Andrew Flack, VP marketing & eCommerce in the Americas for Hilton Worldwide. “One was this idea of meeting planners as ‘WowMakers.’ We began to see in the same way the travel experience was driving everything on the leisure side, it’s now really driving behavior on the business travel side as well. And when people are traveling for meetings, they’re using photo sharing to build their professional networks.”
However, Flack continued, after more than 400 interviews with people involved in creating hotel programs, “Meeting planners told us they’re feeling the burden of delivering that to their clients.”
So Hilton is now building on its messaging around the return on investment of meetings, and expanding that to focus on the return on experience. The strategy revolves around trumpeting the exploits of event professionals who have organized high-impact programs at Hilton properties to inspire other planners to think bigger and bolder.
Flack said the recordings are also designed to inform internal convention sales and services staff, as well, and to be used at sales presentations.
“We observed the role of meeting planners is often undervalued, so we felt it was time to recognize two things: The greater importance of the event experience, and the greater importance of the meeting professionals who bring it to life,” he explained. “So we coined this term ‘WowMaker’ to describe these people as a celebration of them, and a guide for ourselves in terms of how we engage with them. This will be our north star into next year as we develop new initiatives.”
The challenge here is recurring. Hilton comes out with some of the best ideas in the industry to develop real thought leadership around meeting design and business trends, but the online delivery and promotion always feels overly corporate. Hilton is not a banking company. The WowMakers campaign should have a lot more compelling imagery and grippy contextual content to support it. Furthermore, the WowMakers campaign video doesn’t nearly convey the possibilities in experiential event design today. Not even close.
The best thing Hilton could do is create its own brand studio to produce content that people will actually want to consume and share.
MGM Resorts: ‘I Am The Show’
MGM Resorts International shared with us its new brand video that’s scheduled to kick off the company’s new worldwide campaign at the end of the year. It’s actually pretty good. The kinetic imagery promotes the idea that MGM’s properties and associates are an intrinsic part of Las Vegas’ push as the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”
According to Michael Dominguez, senior VP & chief sales officer for MGM Resorts International, new associate training emphasizes that staff should consider themselves as part of the company’s overall entertainment value in terms of the guest experience, rather than just being service providers.
“Internally, we’ll have imagery that will show a bartender in front of a bar saying: ‘This is my stage. I am the show,'” said Dominguez. “More than 75 percent of all our revenue today is non-gaming, and that’s important because we’re a luxury hotel and entertainment company that has a casino element to it. Just like other resorts have golf courses and spas.”
MGM is building on its mission as an entertainment company with the new $100 million Park Theater opening this winter inside the Monte Carlo property, which will soon no longer be called Monte Carlo. The 5,000-seat theater is designed to host performers for long-term residencies, which MGM has never had the appropriate venue to do before.
In April this year, MGM opened the T-Mobile Arena and adjacent outdoor plaza called The Park next to Monte Carlo. With the new Park Theater opening, the 3,000-room Monte Carlo will undergo a full rehab and be rebranded as the The Park MGM. Within that hotel, New York’s Sydell Group is opening the 250-room NoMad Las Vegas with its own pool, dining and spa facilities.
“That property will jump from the number 10 average rate in the company to number four, so it puts it in a whole other category tier,” said Dominguez. “That’s important because Mandalay and Delano need more overflow for corporate customers. I now have a higher corporate clientele, now that we have hockey and all the sponsored suites in T-Mobile, so I need a product that’s going to match that.”
Chef Mario Batali is also contracted to launch one of his popular Eataly food experiences at the Las Vegas Boulevard entrance to The Park MGM redevelopment, which could evolve into an interesting partnership.
“It’s going to be a half-billion dollar project to remake Monte Carlo into The Park MGM,” said Dominguez. “When it’s done, it’s a brand that we hope to expand across the country.”