Gaming resorts have long been synonymous with locations like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. While those locales are teeming with exceptional gaming resort options for corporate meetings and events of all sizes, more and more gaming resorts are popping up in locations like Arizona, Connecticut, New Mexico and other destinations across the nation.
“There may be a gaming resort in your area or region,” Lauren Delgado, vice president at Santa Maria Group in Los Angeles, California, said. “You should definitely give them a look before flying meeting attendees across the country or to another far-off destination. Many gaming resorts now offer amenities you would find at high-end hotels such as premium suites, fine dining restaurants, entertainment, spas, golf courses and more. Gaming resorts are like a one-stop shop and you don’t need to outsource much, if anything, for attendees.”
When selecting a gaming resort, Delgado suggests it is important for corporate planners to be flexible with original date selections as this potentially creates an advantage in terms of availability and pricing.
Casino resorts offer competitive pricing for luxury and entertainment. Many properties offer large conference facilities to attract midweek occupancy. Also remember that gaming resorts prefer to partner and plan with a corporate meeting planner early on in the planning process to make sure the services they are providing enhance the overall experience of the event. Often times, gaming resorts offer a meeting service manager and AV personnel who are dedicated to ensure an event goes smoothly.
If your group likes to attend gaming resorts, mention that fact to the sales manager as it may bring more value when negotiating. Also, many casino resorts will organize poker lessons or possibly a slot or blackjack tournament for the group.
When Delgado was determining where to coordinate a networking event, which included a golf tournament and banquet dinner for Santa Maria Group, she looked no further than a gaming resort.
“Quite honestly, a gaming resort is an event planner’s dream in so many ways,” Delgado said. The gaming resort and its array of amenities, in this case Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, California, was perfect for Santa Maria Group’s needs. The staff stayed in close communication with us through the planning process and all throughout the event to ensure that there were no issues so that any unexpected hiccups could be addressed and resolved quickly.”
As Delgado explained, the golf tournament with the banquet dinner was a networking event that yielded around 120 attendees and was so successful that the Santa Maria Group will be holding the same event this year for the third year in a row.
“We initially chose the Pechanga Resort Casino because the resort was essentially a one-stop shop for this kind of event,” Delgado said. “It has a beautiful golf course, hotel rooms, and of course, the amenities conducive to hosting the tournament. The actual location was also far enough from where we are based in Los Angeles for a change in scenery, but still close enough to ensure attendance from our attendees, who are also mainly based in the area.”
Pechanga Resort Casino is seeing large corporations come back in a big way. They just had a huge conference with Taco Bell, and associations are coming back strong also. These groups tack on other activities for their attendees, such as golf, spa treatments, private concerts and full meals.
At Pechanga’s Temecula Creek Inn property, which is a boutique and golf course inn located just five minutes from the casino resort, attendees enjoy the 8,000 sf butterfly garden, a project in conjunction with Monarchs in the Rough, where they can spot endangered Monarch butterflies and cocoons.
These are the type of unique experiences that many of today’s gaming resorts offer attendees. Of course, planning an event at a gaming resort means that event planners of any experience level can seamlessly bring forth an event thanks in part to the many seasoned and detail-oriented staff members that can be found at a gaming resort.
“I’ve been organizing events from small corporate gatherings to large-scale food festivals for over eight years now and I can’t help but find myself impressed every time we work with Pechanga’s staff on our events there,” Delgado said. “I typically have, at the very least, a nebulous vision of how I and our team at SMG envision the event to be.”
The team at Visit Phoenix, points to several gaming resorts dotting the Greater Phoenix area that are ideal for corporate events. For instance, the Gila River Resorts & Casinos at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona, is a Four Diamond resort that recently underwent a $180 million expansion last year, adding a new event center, additional accommodations, two pools and a Topgolf Swing Suite.
In addition, Talking Stick Resort is a favorite gaming resort tucked into the heart of Scottsdale, Arizona. Another Four Diamond venue, Talking Stick offers meeting space for groups of all sizes.
Kait Busone, director of events at The Annexus Group in Scottsdale, Arizona, said that their typical meeting size at Talking Stick is around 100 people, but they’ve also hosted a more intimate 30-people partners meeting at the casino resort.
“Our events consist of a ‘welcome’ cocktail reception, breakfast/lunch, and a business session,” Busone said. “We have even hosted a hypnotist show there. Our attendees love that they don’t have to leave the property. It makes it a really smooth transition between our business meeting and their personal time. There are multiple restaurants for them to choose from, live entertainment, spa, the resort style pool and the casino. We also love that Talking Stick is currently a nonsmoking property.”
From a planning perspective, Busone has found that working with a casino resort team means that they anticipate the group’s every need and quickly make the changes requested.
“I appreciate that they have so many team members dedicated to our event that I never have to search for anyone when I need something,” Busone said. “They also provide us with unique suggestions to enhance our overall event since they handle a wide variety of events, such as concerts.”
Before the end of this year, Busone will plan an additional two events at Talking Stick.
“It really is just about knowing your clientele and anticipating their needs,” she said. “The casino resort gives you the ability to make your event a one of a kind experience for your attendees. You can lean on the resort staff for options and suggestions. And, you will feel comfort in knowing your attendees will have a great time with so many available options that can cater to everyone’s interests.”
Another Scottsdale gaming venue is the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort, which is steeped with Native American design, accenting the 25,000 sf of meeting and event space.
Considering Las Vegas, the destination is second to none when it comes to casino resort options for meeting planners and plays host to thousands of meetings, conventions and incentive programs annually. No matter the size of the group, Las Vegas gaming resorts have the flexibility to tailor space to accommodate any event, intimate or extravagant.
One of the big reasons corporate meeting planners are drawn to Las Vegas is because they can gather attendees in the same hotel or resort and also have enough meeting space under one roof. Nightlife is another reason corporations draw more attendees to their events in Las Vegas.
For instance, MGM Resorts boasts The Park, a vibrant outdoor dining and entertainment venue. It is located between New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts and serves as a gateway to the T-Mobile Arena.
ARIA Resort & Casino has long been considered one of Las Vegas’ premier destinations for large-scale meetings and events, thanks in part to its expansive convention center and wealth of state-of-the-art meeting spaces from which to choose. Nearby, Wynn Las Vegas, Encore Las Vegas and Resorts World Las Vegas also offer beautiful and unique event spaces for any size meeting or convention.
Meeting attendees will delight in Caesars Palace. The meeting space is comfortably set apart from the casino area, yet remains easily accessible for attendees. In addition to traditional meeting venues within Caesars, the site’s Colosseum boasts one of the world’s largest LED screens, which is a perfect location for presentations that need to be “over-the-top.”
Other Las Vegas gaming resort favorites include the Tropicana Las Vegas and the Venetian Las Vegas, both of which offer all-encompassing meeting, convention and entertainment amenities.
The Atlantic City gaming resort experience is unique with its boardwalk, popular outlet shopping and amusement atmosphere. Hosting an event at a gaming resort in Atlantic City enables attendees, after a long day in meetings, an opportunity to unwind either in the casino or outside on the boardwalk.
Resorts Casino Hotel welcomes attendees to experience the latest in audiovisual technology in a multifaceted conference center at this world-class gaming resort.
Wayne Feret, meeting planner and general manager at Linde Gas & Equipment Inc. in Danbury, Connecticut, plans corporate meetings and events at Resorts Casino Hotel annually.
In the beginning of the year, Feret said that he usually schedules a regional meeting with approximately 150 people in attendance, and then, during the year, he will schedule smaller meetings with 20 to 30 people.
“The ‘Kickoff’ meeting starts the year for my team as we roll out the yearly strategy,” he said. “Each year, the meeting starts off with a reception that is usually held somewhere in the Resorts Casino hotel. We bring in our own entertainment and enjoy the hotel.”
Feret said that casino resorts such as this one in Atlantic City, are appealing because of the proximity of the meeting rooms and small breakout rooms.
“It is hard to get lost,” he said. “The restaurants are on the same floor as the meeting rooms so breakfast and lunch and breaks are easy to take. I also like the location of the hotel relative to Atlantic City. It is easy to get cabs and or Uber rides to take us around the city. Another feature is being on the boardwalk and close to other casinos.”
He said his company will be hosting a small meeting later this summer, a small winter year-end meeting and then next year’s “kickoff” meeting – all at Resorts Casino Hotel.
“My advice for meeting planners is to visit the hotel and work with the marketing team to put together an event to meet your needs and budget,” Feret said.
New Jersey’s Atlantic City also plays host to world-class lodging, meeting space and gaming at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, the Tropicana Atlantic City, Bally’s Atlantic City Casino Resort, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City – each offering a unique experience for meeting attendees.
Caesars has made its mark on the Atlantic City landscape, providing a wealth of meeting and event venue options at its Las Vegas-style resort destinations through the Atlantic City region. In addition to Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, the company’s other two properties – Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City and Tropicana Atlantic City – have become favorites among meeting planners thanks to their wealth of amenities and experience, including nightlife, shopping, celebrity chefs and entertainment.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, featuring 150,000 sf of meeting space, is another favorite among corporate meeting planners. The casino’s venues are available to amplify programs and are designed to accommodate groups of all sizes, from board meetings to large-scale events. As a casino resort destination, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City also offers nontraditional venues available for roundtables, discussions and appointments.
While Connecticut is not often associated with casino resorts, Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, with 275,000 sf of indoor meeting space, provides the ideal locale that many corporate meeting planners envision. With a wealth of indoor and outdoor meeting, exhibition and conference spaces, Mohegan Sun Casino, Hotel and Entertainment Complex is a one-stop meeting and event venue that’s sure to please. Live entertainment, golf, gaming and private dining experiences are just some of the amenities that corporate meeting planners have come to rely on with Mohegan Sun.
In Pennsylvania, the resort offers over 100,000 sf of meeting and conference space. For smaller gatherings and events, the Valley Forge Casino Resort boasts several ballrooms of various sizes and meeting rooms, all perfect spots to get down to business. Live events at The Venue at Valley Forge Casino Resort are also an ideal way for attendees to connect with others in a fun, welcoming environment.
Also in Pennsylvania is the Mount Airy Casino Resort in the heart of the Pocono Mountains, which features more than 20,000 sf of event space. From a full-service spa to hiking trails, to plenty of gaming activities, Mount Airy is a great fit for corporate groups looking to get away.
According to Dawn Brown, CMP, manager of meetings and conventions at B. Braun Medical Inc in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, hosting events at gaming resorts has evolved over the years and have gained some traction with non-gaming revenue, especially with digital and remote gambling options. Integrated resorts have transformed into world-class entertainment destinations for non-gambling activities.
“Gaming resorts provide unique, integrated venue options with world-class facilities for functions of any size that include guest rooms, meeting and event space, fine-dining restaurants, entertainment, high-end shopping and luxury spas,” Brown said. “Considering an area like Las Vegas as a destination might eliminate or minimize the need for transportation. Gaming hotels are able to offer better value for planners since they receive revenue from gaming, as well as guest rooms and food and beverage.”
Brown also enjoys having all options under one roof. Hosting an event in Las Vegas also seems to be cost-effective with great flight options, as well as the meeting spaces and services they offer.
“If it makes sense for the goals and objectives of your event to host it at a gaming resort, then go for it,” Brown said. “Everything is at your fingertips.” C&IT