August 01, 1999
Meetings & Conventions Play It Up August 1999 Current Issue
August 1999

Faux fame: Rat Pack
or Elvis impersonators
add a 'viva' Las Vegas
feel to an event.

Play It Up

Everyone's a winner at these theme events

By Amy Drew Teitler

Guests enter the casino through an archway of oversized dice and incandescent neon. Greeted by showgirls lacquered in sequins and feathers, they head to the bar for a good luck martini. A suave gentleman sidles up. “Hiya, doll,” he says with a wink and a smile. “Lookin’ sharp, baby!” Was that Dean Martin?

OK, maybe it wasn’t. And maybe the attendees are actually in the mezzanine ballroom of the convention hotel, but the spirit of the casino and even the smooth style of the Rat Pack permeates the room.

With casino hotels gaining a greater foothold in the hospitality industry, it’s no surprise the gaming theme is finding its way into the agenda, and not just at party time. Special events, tournaments and seminars can be designed to appeal to gamblers and nongamblers alike. The property’s director of casino marketing should be able to help when it comes to organizing an event on the casino floor or inviting a gaming professional to tutor attendees.

Creative planners, often with the help of destination management companies, can evoke the spirit of Las Vegas in just about any destination. Following are some suggestions.

Vegas, Rat Pack style
Rich red carpet and palm trees lead to the “casino” entrance. A breathy blond Marilyn Monroe greets guests as they peruse the tables. Blackjack and roulette are among the featured games; attendees can play with the aid of professional dealers and gaming instructors. Jaki Baskow, president of the Las Vegas-based DMC Baskow & Associates, suggests dice or framed invitations as options for souvenirs.

No-risk gambling
Creative Concepts Inc., also of Las Vegas, is one of the many DMCs that can supply a party with gaming instructors. CEO Paul Pursel starts his Casino Nights event with an outline of how each game works; then guests play for fun while dealers coach. Interesting twists on gambling nights could feature “fun money” that attendees use to purchase prizes.

Floor it
Working with the casino director to create a private slot or video-poker tournament should be easy, says Robin Johnson, president of Las Vegas’ Inventive Incentives. Divide the group into teams, and load a predetermined amount of money into each team’s machine. A time limit is set, and play begins. When done, the team with the most credits wins. Serve hors d’oeuvres during the competition while showgirl-waitresses take drink orders.

Five-site stud
Help familiarize attendees with the property or surrounding area with a Poker Run; participants need not know how to play poker. They can play individually or in teams. Issue one playing card to each team at breakfast, and give them a map showing where they will pick up four more cards. The locations can be in the hotel or out in the city. Contestants turn in their “hands” at lunch. Compile results that afternoon, and announce the winner and prize at dinner for added suspense.

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