Caesars Knows How to Throw a Party

Had the opportunity to attend the Caesars Entertainment Educational Experience in Vegas last week, and not only had a fantastic time but came away with the satisfied feeling of having made some great new industry connections and learned some fresh things on a variety of topics.

I’d known Caesars Palace, for example, was a bastion of meetings, events and more, but didn’t quite realize the breadth of their offerings. Three-hundred-thousand or so square feet of event space, in addition to all the restaurants, casino action and so forth, provides more dining, entertainment and event options in one spot than some entire communities can lay claim to.

Also eye-opening were the slate of seminars hosted for a day at Paris Las Vegas. Some of the highlights:

  • Geoff Freeman, COO of U.S. Travel Association, hailed Travel as America’s #1 Export and said the industry is no longer an underdog—but that we cannot rest on our laurels. One key tidbit that stood in my mind regarding the still-daunting challenges is the difficulty in flying: America is home to five of the 20 busiest airports in the world, but NONE of them are ranked near the top when it comes to customer service. The travel experience is simply more difficult than it needs to be. Freeman said there was a new responsibility for all of us in the industry, and that is to be champions and advocates of it. The first step can be taken, he said, by joining the Power of Travel Coalition (www.travelcoalition.org).
  • Mark Eaton, the hulking 7-4 former all-star center, had an underdog story you probably wouldn’t expect from someone so towering. Heckled mercilessly growing up and a complete failure as a high school player (three seconds of total playing time!), Eaton had given up on the sport before being hounded by a junior college coach into trying out. The real turning point came when none other than Wilt Chamberlain took him aside at a pickup game and explained that he didn’t have to do it ALL—that his ‘job’ was simply protecting the basket on defense.  This focus on ‘knowing your job’ is first on Eaton’s list of four keys to leadership and teamwork, followed by Do What You’re Asked to Do; Make People Look Good; and Protect Others.
  • Also beyond worthwhile were insights from leadership expert and author Mark Sanborn, who also quipped, “All proceeds from my books go to benefit children. Mine.”
  • And Laura Stack offered up some key tips on productivity, with one key insight being to determine what your most productive work-time is and tackling the most crucial projects during it.

Of course, plenty of fun was had as well, including an ‘only in Vegas’ neighborhood clean-up CSR project, with a DJ on hand, visit from some Chippendale dancers and group line-dancing to cap things off. And dazzling entertainment ranged from the hysterical Water Coolers improv group to chainsaw juggling to a final night performance by former American Idol winner Taylor Hicks.

Evening excitement included a visit to the electrifying Chateau nightclub at Paris Las Vegas, with its open-air second-floor providing one of the coolest clubbing settings anywhere; and the top-notch dining included a memorable dinner at the sleek Old Homestead steakhouse in Caesars Palace, highlighted by a seafood platter with oysters, massive prawns and some of the best king crab imaginable.

For anyone interested, here’s a brief photo album from the weekend.

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