Meeting Demands

Harrah’s merger simplifies conference planning

By: Katherine Wang

If there is one thing that Las Vegas Meetings by Harrah’s Entertainment keeps emphasizing it’s efficiency. Following the company’s merger with Caesars on June 13, Harrah’s meetings division is putting customers first.

“The easier we can make their lives, the more they’ll call us and utilize our business,” said Michael Massari, vice president of meeting sales and operations.

What Harrah’s Entertainment offers to planners and clients is a one-stop shop. With one telephone call, they can access all parts of the planning process, from sales to catering to convention and banquet services, at any of the six properties. In Las Vegas, Harrah’s Entertainment is comprised of Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, Bally’s Las Vegas, Paris Las Vegas and the Flamingo. By bringing the leadership at all six properties under one command, Harrah’s has formed a team of sales and event professionals to work with 17,000 hotel rooms and 1 million square feet of functional space. By making one call, one contract and receiving one master bill, planners and agents can book grand-scale meeting events at multiple Vegas properties interchangeably.

Only two months after the merger, Las Vegas Meetings has already seen its new philosophy in action. Its Paris Casino Resort was the headquarters for a recent conference hosting 750 associates. The conference held its program at three different Harrah’s facilities.

“To be able to do that and do it incredibly well, 35 to 40 days after the merger,” said Massari, “we’re pretty proud of that.”

To ensure the smooth running of Las Vegas Meetings by Harrah’s, operational leaders were assigned to each of the six properties. Their job is to help execute the meetings and generate growth at their assigned hotels. But like any manager who has been confronted with huge shifts in personnel, Massari had some initial doubts.

“Our biggest concern before the merger was that since we were all different businesses and had different leaders, there had to be a cultural shift that we had to make happen so that we were all thinking the same thoughts and moving forward in the same direction as a team.”

In spite of the difficulties, what is important to Massari is that Harrah’s Entertainment is breaking the mold of casino conference hosting and optimizing six prime Vegas properties in one market. The key difference between their facilities and that of others in the country is that they both sell and operate the business. So what clients hear from the sales side is what they get from the operational side.

“I definitely think it changes the dynamic ... and that will be something meeting planners will really enjoy, Massari said. “Travel agents who work with meeting planners will see the same benefits, which are quick responses, multiple options, thinking about their business as a whole, not just as individual pieces.”