Will Vegas ever be Vegas again?

The Reimagined Guest Experience

The hospitality and gaming industry will never be the same again. But that doesn’t mean it’s doomed. After all, Vegas is resilient.

Many of us are feeling a swirl of emotions as we implement our “phased” reopening strategy: anxiety, optimism, frustration and pent-up anticipation. Among other concerns, we are struggling to strike the balance between “reopening” for business and achieving some level of acceptable guest service under the safest possible conditions.

How, then, does Vegas, the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” keep its edge?

Greg Chase knows a lot about guest experience. As Chief Thought Provoker and Founder of Experience Strategy Associates, Greg is an expert at creating simplicity out of service chaos. His career is defined by turning around the guest experience and aligning the employee experience to serve guests, a skillset he honed at the Disney Corporation and MGM Resorts International. Today Chase is sharing his expertise with some of the world’s most renowned global brands.

I share Chase’s passion for innovation and “big picture” thinking. I asked him to walk me through his thought process for the reimagined guest experience. Like many optimists, Chase sees the opportunity in crisis.

Let your loyalists know what you are thinking

“The world is watching every move of their favorite brands right now to see how they are handling this crisis,” says Chase. Brands that have treated their employees well and have extended their generosity to their communities will come out ahead. He believes that a long-term sustainable strategy should evolve from insights provided by employees and loyal guests. Why? “You will get a golden egg that will set you up for success.”

Reimagine the luxury experience

Chase says, “I think it’s important to ask your customers NOW where they would feel the most comfortable having the human element in the service experience. A bartender or restaurant server may provide a much-needed smile for someone.”

“Whether we want to or not, we are going to have to redefine what “luxury” means post COVID-19, and through the reopening phases of business. My definition of luxury centers on three factors: an effortless, anticipatory personalized experience.”

What was unacceptable before the world shut down is now on the table, for example, the check-in kiosk at hotel registration. Once frowned upon as too impersonal or perhaps too practical for four and five-star hotel brands, expect self-service to be more the norm.

Empathy and Human Connection Still Rule!

Chase points out that contactless delivery is now an accepted form of service, whether that is getting food delivered to your front door by UberEATS or Papa John’s.

As sections of a resort casino reopen with physical distancing limitations, staffing will be strategically allocated and co-mingled with contactless or automated delivery.

However, no matter where casino operators deploy robots or A.I., we still crave service with a smile. In spite of the restrictions that will be imposed, surprise and delight still have their place.

So where does the reopening scenario provide for such interaction? Chase says the answer is simple: employees should just ask the guest, “how are you doing?

He goes on to mention how a basic conversation-starter helped both guests and employees heal through another crisis, the October 2017 horrific mass shooting on our beloved Las Vegas Strip. “Most of the time the guests turned and asked employees the same question.” Relationships grow, loyalty follows, through the spark of conversation.

Let’s Do This

Your guests expect changes on the casino floor, in the hotel tower, in the convention space, the bars, restaurants, shows and attractions. Yet winning hearts and minds is the stuff we strive for and it can start NOW, before you even open the doors.

Bring your loyal guests and highly engaged front-line employees along for the journey. If your employees are furloughed, you will make their day by asking them to help and compensating them for their participation.

The bottom line: any experience we can imagine will demand incredible resilience, agility, creativity and imagination from every leader. It’s not ALL on you to figure it out, especially when your guests and employees are holding their breath for your return.

When people feel safe again, the Vegas we know and love, the one that has delivered fantasy and escapism for generations, will be back.

(Note: Greg Chase hosts a series of Virtual Fireside Chats with leaders from a wide range of industries- click HERE to register.)