Caesars Entertainment hosted 250 planners in Las Vegas during its annual “Diamonds are a Planner’s Best Friend” fam in November. The CSR event involved clean up and Christmas decorating at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, which serves abused, abandoned and neglected children and families.
We participated along with Michael Massari, senior vp at Caesars Entertainment. Massari says he visits St. Jude’s regularly and believes in CSR because, “This is the right thing to do as a human being.” Here’s our followup Q+A:
Michael, what do you personally get out of CSR events?
I’m the parent of a seven year-old and nine year-old. We try as best we can to raise them with a give-first mentality; we’re trying our hardest to raise charitable young ladies. So we spend a lot of time with our girls where we make sure we’re helping others and donating our time and resources as best we can.
Our business is so much like our family—we’re here all together and probably more of the week than we are at home. And it just became very important for us as a business to ask, “What are we doing for our work family to make sure that we’re building a culture that is about giving and sharing resources?”
I get the same thing out of it with work that I do at home, which is: This is what we do as people. It’s part of our DNA.
So this is something you recommend for all groups?
I would highly recommend customers to get their companies involved in community outreach. Of all the things we do for our event—and we do some pretty extraordinary things—the thing that people look forward to the most is landscaping somebody’s garden or putting up holiday decorations.
They come all this way, we feed them like crazy for three days, and then all they can talk about is, “When are we getting over to St. Jude’s?”
How did planners respond to the St. Jude’s event?
Nobody says, “You know what? I’m going to the spa.” Everyone gets up, and we wake them up early. It’s an hour-long drive to the ranch. It’s work. People say it was the highlight of their weekend and that it’s the most fulfilling part of the trip.
Here’s why I recommend it so highly to other companies. Originally we went into it with a totally altruistic thought process. We thought, we have 500 people. We have the people to do this work, so while our customers are here, let’s do this.
That was our intent but here’s how it turned out. We get more customer loyalty out of this piece of the event than any other piece of the event. So as a business owner, even if you don’t want to do this because it’s the right thing to do, do it because it’s good for your business. Just do it.
How do you see CSR evolving?
Maybe the next stage is not any more sexy or unusual than just permanence. I think the timing of CSR and the recession was just a coincidence. What really is correlated to the increase in CSR is that we were able to figure out as business owners and customers, where the intersection between the right thing and the profitable thing is.
A real simple example is that almost every hotel I stay in gives me the option of throwing my towel on the ground to get them washed, or keep them hung up so they won’t get washed. When we started doing this a long time ago, it was strictly a cost-savings exercise. But then people started realizing that the right thing for them to do for the environment can also be the most profitable thing. That’s when that took off. And the same thing goes for our customers. It’s that intersection that’s powerful, so it will never go away. We will never let it leave our program.