Meetings & Conventions Play It Up 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
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.
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.
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.
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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