In the business of casino hotels, MGM Resorts International easily stands out. And not just in Las Vegas, but around the globe as well. With properties that include MGM Grand Las Vegas, ARIA and the Bellagio, accounting for over 14,500 guest rooms, the casino hotel giant holds a huge stake in Las Vegas’s meetings industry.
We spoke with Michael Dominguez, senior VP of sales at MGM Resorts International to learn more about the Las Vegas properties.
Prevue: For first time groups, what’s their experience when they first walk in the door of one of your Las Vegas properties?
Michael Dominguez: What’s been surprising to me, and one thing these properties have in common, is that for such large meeting facilities they do large well. We had the Conference Direct at ARIA earlier, and it was nice to hear them saying how we are able to take something so big and make it so personal.
The focus for us is toward the meetings and convention market. And one of the biggest things you’ll find is that the three properties are able to separate the meetings experience from the rest of the hotel. The meeting space in ARIA is on a completely differently level in another part of the hotel. Our separate convention center lets us make sure our groups are very much focused on their meetings while still having all the luxury offerings of Las Vegas just steps away. The meeting space is really well thought out and that allows groups to not be distracted.
What about meetings at the MGM Grand?
MGM Grand Las Vegas has a full conference center with the flexibility to do large expos, but the conference facility is spread out. That lets us have two medium size groups in there without them interfering with each other. A key point to note is that although we have a lot of space, the majority of our business is still 250 rooms or less. We do a lot of small meetings. And in making big meetings small, we deal with that on a daily basis. In fact the majority of meetings in the meetings market is 250-300 rooms or less. And with MGM being such a popular brand, that’s the majority of what we do.
What’s new at MGM?
We’ve just spent a lot of money renovating the Bellagio and MGM Grand Las Vegas, while the MGM is about to launch another nightclub, Hakkasan, a three-level club. So instead of taking your group out to clubs, we’re able to do it in house. It’s an important commitment on behalf of MGM Resorts International, which has invested over 1 billion into its properties in the last three years.
Can you tell us about fun F&B at MGM?
The breadth of food and beverage available just within MGM is amazing, especially with our internationally known chefs, which makes it easy for dinearounds. We have four or five restaurants we can open up to groups, whether it’s Craftsteak, Joel Robuchon, L’Atelier. And you don’t need transportation because we can do it all in house. Otherwise, you would need a lot of logistics to get that done. And we can do it at all our properties.
Our chefs will also make themselves available for groups, either during or after dinner, however it fits into the content a group is trying to provide its attendees. They can do something very hands-on and experiential, such as an event at the Tuscany Kitchen show at the Bellagio. It’s the norm of where meetings are going. The experiential part of meetings is becoming a bigger driver and food and beverage is leading the charge. It’s exciting to meet and learn from some of the best chefs in the world, and for you as an amateur culinary expert to learn techniques to take with you and try at home is priceless.
Are there any new renovations?
The Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay has just finished renovations, and The Hotel will be rebranded with a Delano flag. We’re about to open a new nightclub at Mandalay as well, LIGHT. Our partners in The Light Group are Cirque du Soleil; and this is Cirque’s first venture into the nightclub business. There’s also a new Cirque du Soleil show at Mandalay Bay–Michael Jackson One – opening in April.
What are some of the more popular activities and attractions that your groups take advantage of?
More than anything, our groups take advantage of the Las Vegas destination. Besides the Strip, we have the dolphin experience at the Mirage, or helicopter tours of the Strip at night – which are just beautiful – or down to Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. Those are the types of experiences people don’t forget. You can also drive like a race car driver, and we have some of the best golf in the country. We offer good value and good weather and easy access for getting around the city, which is ideal for groups.
What ways can groups get the most bang for their buck while still enjoying the hotel’s luxury offerings?
When you look at the industry, Las Vegas still has an opportunity to provide really good value because of the inventory added over the last several years. Add in easy access, with the airport five minutes from the Strip, and it’s really a bargain.
But now because of an all-time high demand with no new supply coming into the market, the need for groups to look at patterns is important. For instance, a group can come in on Monday through Wednesday for much greater value.
Among our properties, our new WiFi has premium bandwidth unmatched in our industry. So as meetings have continued to grow with a virtual or hybrid component, whether mobile, iPads, you name it, the ability to grow bandwidth and provide speed has never been more important. And we’ve made sure we can handle any group’s needs. It’s a growing priority across the industry.