The Las Vegas Educational Experience is an annual event hosted by Caesars Entertainment to showcase their latest and greatest developments for planners. The theme for this year’s gala was “Diamonds Are a Planner’s Best Friend.” More than 200 meeting pros and 100 sales managers were flown out to experience all the glitz and glamour on and off the Strip that Caesars has to offer.
While the conference has been hosted for almost a decade now, this year it outdid itself by presenting innovative ideas, exciting entertainers, delectable dining, and 72 hours of literally nonstop fun. The focus was the corporation’s nationwide consolidation of their meetings business. The fact that all attendees were all treated to a shiny bauble or two wasn’t too bad, either.
In 2005, Caesars created the Las Vegas Meetings by Caesars Entertainment brand, which benefited meeting planners by grouping their eight Vegas properties under one sales and management team. During the Educational Experience, Caesars announced that it’s expanding those benefits brandwide across the country. Representatives of the company’s sales force will be situated in metropolitan areas nationwide, not only in the cities where Ceasars’ properties are located. Bringing the sales team closer to customers will facilitate the process of booking, whether it’s at one property or a combination of several hotels. These sales managers will be decision makers, and with one phone call a client will be able to book their entire program.
“If we can find a way to make it easier for meeting planners, then they in turn, are happy and will provide positive feedback, so it’s a win-win,” says Michael Massari, senior vice president .
The industry-leading Meeting Diamond and Alternative Venues programs will be extended to all properties as well, along with the ability to mix and match properties, venues, F&B, etc., within a destination, all under a single contract.
Furthermore, planners can access all of Casaers’ product much easier at the consolidated caesarsmeetings.com website.
“A lot of people think Caesars and only think about Caesars Palace but we’re here to show them that there’s so much more to it,” says Steve Lowe, director of sales for Caesars for the west coast. “We have hotels in Lake Tahoe, Atlantic City and other great places that we want to showcase too, not just our Vegas hotels.”
THE DIAMOND EXPERIENCE
The Caesars Entertainment Diamond Card handed to the planner and VIPs at the start of their stay is one great perk of the Meeting Diamond program. The card allows participants to access each hotel’s Diamond Lounge, gives them a chance to skip long taxi and shuttle lines, offers priority access to restaurants and venues, and provides them with other privileges tied to hosting their event with Caesars.
PURE @ CAESARS PALACE: FIT FOR A QUEEN Attendees during the Diamond fan were divided among Caesars’ eight Vegas hotels, which combined provide over one million sf of meeting space and 24,000 guestrooms. At the iconic 3,348-room Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, attendees passed David and the Winged Victory as they made their way through the lavish fountains of this Roman empire, nestled in the heart of the Strip. On the way to the conference’s welcome reception, one female planner glanced over at a buff Roman gladiator who referred to her as Venus, flashed a devilish smile and gave her a long kiss on the hand. Another woman was handed a glass of champagne from a graceful Greek goddess on the way into the 2,500-pax PURE Nightclub.
Inside the venue’s all white room, massive columns were draped with flowing white linens while club music, cool cocktails and decadent dishes created the upbeat tempo for a successful networking dinner. Some attendees made their way over to a mashed potato station where a handy chef whipped up customized creations smothered with scallops, sour cream, bacon and tons of oozing cheese.
Groups are treated to what is arguably one of the best views of Las Vegas Boulevard when they make their way to PURE’s outside terrace. The space had its own DJ who played a sultry mix of tunes as groups swayed the night away under the stars. Others chose to lay back and relax in the private cabanas, taking in the beauty of the bright lights of the Strip at night.
Melissa Kline is a regional sales manager for Caesars. While talking to some planners and press, she gave us a wink and said, “They warned us that we’d be in for some amazing food, lots of fabulous cocktails and a ton of fun this week.”
Mission accomplished. Total meeting space at Caesars Palace is 300,000 sf.
SHOWTIME AT RIO
A short shuttle ride took the group to the 2,500-room Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The morning consisted of various sessions where important information about the corporation was delivered through some pretty amazing acts. Very impressed by Caesars’ inspired creativity this time around.
Rio stands alone, a few blocks off of the strip, which ensures groups a sense of privacy and seclusion, not always in huge supply at all of the Vegas properties. It’s hard to forget it’s there, though, as it’s a wildly colorful building both inside and out. Free shuttle service is available from Rio to the Strip.
The day began with opening remarks by Jordan Clark, vice president of sales, who put together the event. He summed up the entire weekend line-up with one line:
“We can’t do everything, but we can do anything.”
That became more apparent as the day went on. We sampled several of the spaces in the 160,000-sf conference center and learned about the company’s new meetings focus, all the while sitting on the edge of our seats as we watched acts like The Passing Zone.
The duo blends comedy and juggling seamlessly. They made the audience ooh and ahh as they juggled set mouse traps, functioning chainsaws and knives back and forth, mere inches from some of the attendees. The man squeezed his eyes shut as drops of sweat started to build on his forehead.
Walter Bond, a former NBA star turned motivation speaker, followed up next. He customized his popular message about success and accountability to inspire meeting planners to have confidence in their events and stand out from the crowd.
Dale Irvin, a self-proclaimed “Professional Summarizer,” was the event’s MC. He popped out after every act, reminding attendees of the highlights of each performance. Definitely look into booking Irvin.
For the informative session, Caesars set up the stage to resemble the set of a talk show. Irvine sat behind a desk with a coffee mug in hand as he called up various company executives to talk about the changes the corporation would be going through. Quick, straight to the point and very helpful.
Lunch was amazing, as well. Black tie waiters brought out short rib and pan seared sea bass with tomato confit, Peruvian potato cannelloni and spinach gnocchi. They topped the meal with a white chocolate mousse, berry mousse and fruit coulis. It was shaped into a delicate white chocolate flower and spray painted in hues of vibrant pink, to match the elegant, sparkly theme of the weekend.
After three days of fabulous dining and entertainment, planner Marianne Eggleston who is the president of Miracle for Life Network summed up what everyone was thinking.
“One thing is for sure,” said Eggleston. “They sure know how to plan an event.”