I hate to keep resurrecting Bill Harrah, but he felt that the customer was king. He realized if you don’t entertain people, you won’t have either the business or the profit. Harrah treated his customers to the best of everything. He pampered them and he made money.
The current crop of casinos has, for years, done everything on the cheap. Take, for example, the lack of showrooms in the casinos. They rent Lawlor Events Center, bring in big-name entertainment, shuttle their comped patrons to the show and back again and then want them to spend lots of their money on the gaming tables.
I realize the economy is in the dumper, but you’ve got to spend money to make money. Reno and Sparks have got to re-invent themselves. They need to continually implement new ideas in their business models. The tourism industry, which includes the casinos in a major way, has got to have people who make their way to the area and experience things that they can’t do or see anywhere else.
If the tourism people can’t be any more creative, then take a lesson from Las Vegas. Incorporate a marketing plan something like “what goes on in Reno stays in Reno.” The Reno area has got to be the best host that we can be to all our visitors. That doesn’t mean cutting corners to accomplish that end. We, as a community, need to show our appreciation to our visitors that we truly need and want their presence and their business.
Now, I admit, seeing slot mechanics with their jangling keys handing out complementary drinks at John Ascuaga’s Nugget doesn’t quite fit the bill as entertainment, even as a cost-saving measure (though the mechanics are paid more than the minimum wage cocktail waitresses). Maybe if they were to wear tutus or the slit-up-the-side dresses, that might add entertainment to the formula, but I don’t think so. Being cheap costs you profits in the long run. Do it right or don’t do it at all.
Go through downtown Reno on Virginia Street. The place is sleazy. Bums are hanging out amid trash blowing around. Maybe that’s Reno’s answer to street entertainment. Maybe Reno needs to implement the Best Panhandler Line of the Year Award for the persistent bums around the downtown area.
It’s summertime and the casinos ought to be rocking, but they’re almost ghost towns instead. You could have cannon practice on the casino floors it’s so dead there.
The tourism people and gaming industry need to quit pointing fingers at each other trying to place blame for the demise of the tourism in our area and put their obviously educated heads together — after they pull those heads out of the “poor me” sand dunes and get on with things.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.