by Padraic Gilligan, Vice President Ovation Global DMC
Leaving Las Vegas
I arrived into McCarran from Montreal magically gaining back 3 hours of my day in the process. The Air Canada flight touched down in bright sunshine and soon I was in the all-new international terminal at Las Vegas, bathed in natural light and free from the garishness of gaming. Staff from Destinations by Design, co-sponsors of our event, were smilingly visible in the meticulously clean baggage claim area and soon had me speeding along the expressway, heading for the hills, the Strip an ever decreasing silhouette on the horizon behind me. Before I even arrived there, I was leaving Las Vegas and making for a relatively new property located at the foothills of the Red Rock Mountains in Summerlin, about 10 miles north of Las Vegas Bouvelard.
Red Rock Resort
Red Rock Resort Casino and Spa is a 4 year old award winning property and the first billion dollar property to be built off the strip. It has more in common with the “new” Vegas properties at City Centre – Aria, Cosmopolitan etc – than established strip properties like Caesar’s Palace or the MGM. It’s a design-led construction with some great innovative touches that contrast with what might be called a conventional Las Vegas experience (not that anything in this city could ever be regarded as bland, anodyne or conventional!). First, and most dramatic of all, you can check in and reach your guest room without setting a foot in the casino. Second, the hotel pivots around natural light much more than other Vegas properties. There are magnificent views of the Red Rock mountains from the north facing elevation and, to the south, equally impressive views of the vast dessert plain that extends into the distant horizon where the Grand Canyon lies.
A Full Sensory Experience
The colour palate of the interiors reflects the natural setting of the property with lots of burnished oranges, reds and browns in evidence. Original abstract art adorns the walls of the public areas extending the definition of the guest experience into the art and culture dimension too. Throughout the hotel there’s a musical soundtrack to reflect the time and mood of the hour from light country pop to heavy lounge beats. Thus Red Rock is a full sensory experience designed to remain inscribed in your memory long after your visit has finished and the casino has hosed you clean of all your cash. There are over 800 guest rooms, each in excess of 50 sqm in size (not untypical in Vegas), accessed from small lobbies off the corridors. When you enter you’re presented with a stunning aerial view of the Red Rock mountains or The Strip through immense, floor to ceiling windows. Kingside beds appear to float on dark wood platforms and lighting is subtle and moody. There’s a top of the range Bose system with CD and radio. Bathrooms are over-sized too with separate shower and bath and double vanity units.
How to Market a DMC
Local Vegas DMC, Destinations by Design is assisting with aspects of our meeting and deliver an amenity to the room comprised of goodies and some of their own marketing collateral. As a DMC I examine their marketing materials with particular interest and am greatly impressed. This is definitely a design led DMC – I suppose it does say it in the name – with a great sense of visual poise and balance. I really like their branding – strong typography and colour – and consistent across all media. It strikes me again how effectively you can communicate the essence of who you are with good branding. This branding conveys confidence, solidity, creativity, approachability.
One of the pieces of collateral is a Magic Folding Photo Cube which comes inside a nicely branded box. It’s great for fidgety people like me – I amuse myself for ages turning it one way, then the other and, in the process, am reminded of the unique activities that you can do in Vegas. There is also a fold out print piece introducing the company with strong accompanying photography. Brand collateral makes a real impact when consistent and well executed and Destinations by Design certainly left its mark on me as a new-style DMC that understands the business of meetings and events and is confident of its own place in the value chain.
Governance and Management of Associations
I was in Las Vegas as a member of the Hospitality Partners Advisory Council of FICP, the Financial and INsurance Conference Planners association. Part of our meeting was facilitated by an old friend Mark Thorsby of the SmithInstitute, the education and research division of Association Management specialist, SmithBucklin. I worked previously with Mark during my tenure as president of Site and, once again, Mark brought great vibrancy and engagement to a topic that’s generally an undisputed yawn-fest: the subject of board governance for Associations. Drawing from Race for Relevance, Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers radical new blueprint for Associations, Thorsby challenged and cajoled us to think differently in response to seismic changes both in demography and in the marketplaces from which we draw our members. According to Mark the inefficiency and, at times, dysfunctionality at the heart of many Association boards stems from the fact that 2 distinct functions are confused – management and governance. Boards must focus on the governance of the Association and leave the management of the Association to the professional staff. Despite his challenged orthography – Mark, sadly, cannot draw 🙂 – he illustrates the governance/management dynamic memorably with his bicycle sketch: governance is at the front of the bicycle providing the steering and direction while management is at the back turning the pedals and powering it forward.
Padraic Gilligan is Vice President of Industry Relations at MCI and Vice President of Ovation Global DMC, MCI’s destination services division.