by Heidi Mayer-Kruse
• No need to gamble on great meeting and event space
• Get the 'house edge' - sometimes all under one roof
Casino Resorts have long been a favorite for business travelers, and there are a plethora much closer to home than the famed Vegas Strip. These Midwest facilities hold many key benefits for planners and attendees of corporate retreats. From quirky to sophisticated and historic to cutting edge, these facilities represent a full spectrum of ambiance and experience.
If you are booking during the week (or willing to), many offer discounts and incentives on rooms, meals, or free play on the gaming floor. These venues often offer seasonal values as well. Ask if there are discounts for certain times of the year. You may be able to shift your gathering by just a month or two and enjoy big savings. These perks help you make the most of your budget and enhance the experience of your attendees at a minimal cost to you.
Casinos are designed for gatherings. They usually have a variety of options in place that can be tailored for your needs. Since they are built to create an experience, most have beautiful outdoor spaces which may be ideal for helping your group to refocus with a new perspective. As an added benefit, many casino resorts have a full IT staff onsite and available for assisting you with any multi-media set-up, as well as, trouble-shooting the inevitable technical issues. Most have a variety of technical equipment, as well. Ask for a list and the associated costs.
A majority of casino venues have lodging onsite or very near-by. In fact, many are built to be an entirely self-contained experience ideal for multiple days of entertainment. This alleviates the worry of traffic and unfamiliar commutes for your attendees, while also minimizing travel expenses for you as the planner. It encourages your attendees to linger and connect beyond the scheduled agenda. As an added benefit, many organizations encourage spouses to attend these retreats. That makes onsite lodging additionally convenient and attractive.
From buffets to sports bars to upscale dining, casinos almost always have at least one food option and often several. Many are willing to set up a meal or snacks within your meeting’s space or another private setting for your guests. The added variety gives you options as a planner and it prevents attendees from getting tired of a single menu.
Obviously gaming is a primary entertainment perk and you may be able to secure some “free play” for your attendees. Be aware, though, that most of these venues have expanded their entertainment offerings far beyond the lights of the gaming floor. Since it’s likely that there are those in your group not interested in gambling, ask about these options and have that information ready to pass on to your attendees. Spas, outdoor adventure, and free shuttle service to local attractions are becoming increasingly common. You should also ask about scheduled live entertainment at the venue during your event. Often times you can negotiate into your contract admission for your guests. These live events are frequent and a great way to keep your attendees entertained.
Casinos are located in a variety of settings throughout the Midwest, from urban city centers to serene rural areas. There are also a number of options on Native American Reservations. These locations offer a distinct historic and cultural flavor unlike other venues.
Some communities have made gaming their central tourism draw. These locations offer not just the benefit of one facility, but also the entertainment and spaces of all those surrounding it – many within walking distance. One such location is the small Black Hills town of Deadwood, SD with a historic Main Street full of casinos and a variety of resorts nearby. “We have everything a planner would need onsite,” said Michelle Patino, Sales Director of the Deadwood Gulch Resort, “but there is the added mystique of being in an Old West town in the shadow of Black Hills pines. We’re nested right next to Whitewood Creek and the Michelson Trail.”
These locations are ideal for having a little fun and getting creative with your teambuilding. Ask if it’s possible to have a private Casino night for your attendees or set up a friendly poker or Blackjack tournament with a professional dealer. There are some great lessons about personalities and risk tolerance at the gaming tables that can easily be tied into discussions about your organization.
Casino venues are varied and versatile options for the planners of Corporate Retreats. With a little research, you’ll find one ideal for your organization and your attendees.