Las Vegas Vet Mo Robinson Talks Casinos, Meetings and How They Mix

Mo Robinson

0804_Gaming_Maureenrobinson_hedshotA longtime Las Vegas luminary, Mo Robinson opened the original MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (now Bally’s) back in 1975. “I’m like the official hotel opener in Vegas,” she says, having also opened The Venetian, Aladdin Resort & Casino (now Planet Hollywood) and South Point Hotel and Casino off the Strip, where since 2005 she has been director of sales. In her signature to-the-point take, Robinson shares a few insights. How has the meetings business changed over the last 40 years? It’s a whole different world, but the bottom line is it’s still the hospitality business. Everyone tries to make it brain surgery, and it’s not. It used to be rate, space and dates, but now the client has so much access to information. They can look at availability and pricing and get all the answers before they call you. Now it’s about people and [their needs]. What do you wish planners knew before negotiating with you? For convention business, Sunday through Thursday is the best deal. The weekends are left for our leisure, drive-in business and people gambling. We can’t touch suites for your VIPs on the weekends—never have. However, we do not even put gaming in the equation when we are profiling [meetings] business. Planners will say, but “our group is all gamblers.” Unfortunately, it’s difficult to monitor for convention guests. What’s a benefit of booking a meeting at a property with a casino? Our room rates and F&B pricing are lower in Las Vegas due to our other revenue producers like gaming. We have to keep food and drink costs low for regulars, so that benefits [meeting planners]. Ask if you can get a better deal because of that. It’s great for my association business like National Barrel Horse Association because they’re getting four-star dining at one-star prices. You also have to know what kind of hotel your attendee is most comfortable in. If you’re a planner looking at Wynn or The Venetian, why am I in that group? What makes you different from those properties, or MGM and Caesars? MGM and Caesars are running [meetings business] like anywhere else. Gaming isn’t what it used to be. They’re all reaching out to different avenues of business. Think of gaming as an added amenity we offer like a spa. It’s one more recreation or entertainment option [attendees] can indulge in.