2014 Archive

Stars Of The Industry Awards (2014/10/07)

1Living and working in Las Vegas is a lot different from visiting and playing in Las Vegas. As a traveler, you get to see all the glitz, glam and excitement and often don’t think about the behind the scenes that goes into making this city what it is. In fact, most locals have no idea unless they work in the industry. There are some amazing people working behind the scenes every day , always going above and beyond and ensuring that needs are anticipated and expectations exceeded.

The Nevada Hotel Lodging Association, or NHLA, has a yearly award ceremony to recognize individuals that go above and beyond. I was extremely honored to be a part of this ceremony on October 2nd. Being in a room with such amazing people made me a little awe-struck. Nominees ranged from Housekeeping Employee of the Year to Hotelier of the Year. There were under 70 nominees total for all categories from the entire state of Nevada, so it’s not a far stretch to say being nominated was truly an honor. And speaking of honors, our emcee for the night was Jeff Civilico. If you have read any of my previous blogs, you will know how I feel about Jeff. He is simply amazing! His show is not only unique, entertaining and affordable, but he is a great person on the inside, too. Some Las Vegas performers, whether deserved or not, get a bit of a celebrity attitude. They won’t volunteer unless the PR is right for them and they don’t; tend to remember people they have met along the way. Jeff rises above all that and is in the same league with Terry Fator in my opinion…just a great, genuine guy. I bring this up as Jeff volunteered his time and talent to emcee the NHLA Stars of the Industry Awards and had some great fun with the audience. Where else can you attend a fancy awards ceremony and have your emcee putting his, um, bottom, in a CEO’s face? Priceless entertainment.

On a personal and selfish note, I was so honored to receive the Emerging Hospitality Leader Award for 2014. This award recognized leaders in our community that show commitment to their career, position, community and to the NHLA. A true honor and it really humbles a person. Makes me remember why I got into hospitality and why I love it with all my heart.

What it’s really like to live in Las Vegas; “The Trilogy” (2014/10/25)

Episode I: Entertainment
One of the best things about living in Las Vegas is anything you ever want to see or do eventually makes its way here. Concerts, shows and even Broadway plays find their way to Las Vegas.The small downside to that is you are going to pay elevated Las Vegas show ticket prices plus venue fees, LET taxes, etc, etc. . The trick is who you know in order to get a discount or better seat. A lot of venues offer out the local discounts, like two-for-one, during the slow seasons. You may have to wait until middle of summer or December to see a show, but it’s worth it.

And it’s not just gambling and casinos for entertainment in Las Vegas. Believe it or not, every local does not have a gambling problem. In fact, some of us can happily not drop a penny for over a year. But sadly, yes, there are those that have to gamble every second of the day including when they go grocery shopping.
There’s so much to do in the city that doesn’t include gambling that’s actually family friendly.

A lot of radio stations put on concert events, food fairs and other things just like you would find in any other city. Maybe one of the bonuses to getting bigger acts is the city itself. There is a draw to come to Las Vegas after all.

What it’s really like to live in Las Vegas; “The Trilogy” (2014/11/7)

Episode II: Raising a Family
I can assure you that I have never once been to a parent teacher night and heard a child say they want to be a stripper or card dealer when they grow up. I can assure you there’s much more to Vegas than that. And our children are much smarter than that as well.

Yes, when you get close to the Strip and Downtown areas there are plenty of advertisements with scantily clad ladies and men. There’s advertisements everywhere for strip clubs, gambling, “adult” clubs, European “adult” clubs you name it. There are even slot machines in the grocery stores. But this does not mean that we are raising a bunch of heathens. My daughter has asked me several times about strippers and strip clubs, and I have told her the truth: “That is a job for women who want to make their mothers cry.” No more questions.

She’s passed adult stores and asked what they are, and I told her the truth: “There are places where you can buy sexier clothes but you have to be 21 to buy them.” No more questions. She’s even asked about bars and some of the events that go in them as well as gambling and I told her the truth: “When you make your own money and you’re 21, you should be smart enough to decide how you want to spend that money. If you would like to have a drink or two and try your luck gambling that is up to you. It’s all about moderation and knowing where you want to spend your money.” By this time she has tuned out and there are no more questions.

I guess the key is to not hide anything. After all, those advertisements aren’t hiding anything! (However my daughter does have a fascination with boobs and I don’t have the heart to tell her that if she takes after me she won’t have any.) Even with those little cards with the naked ladies on the Strip, don’t make a big deal and kids think nothing of it. Unless they’re male and age 14 through 30. Then they are the most amazing little pieces of paper that have ever been printed anywhere ever. And they must be collected, all of them and right away. You can even trade them with your friends like they were Pokémon. I’m just not asking how you level up.

There’s so much to do in the city for children, from nature type parks like the Springs Preserve to going hiking at Red Rock. There’s a lot of historical places and we are only 4 hours away from major theme parks in California, so it’s easy to get away for a weekend. In fact, I love being a parent in Las Vegas. Shows and concerts come to me, staycations are fun and a great treat for getting straight A’s, four hours is nothing to drive to a theme park and I don’t have to deal with heavy snow, hurricanes or big tornadoes.

What it’s really like to live in Las Vegas; “The Trilogy” (2014/11/21)

Episode III: Working

I’m not going to lie, I enjoy the fact that I no longer have to work in a casino hotel. There are many perks to working in one and I’ll get to that later. The main benefit for not is that I get to go home smelling clean. The fact that I don’t have to walk through smoke to get to my office not only makes me feel better inside, but I smell better on the outside.

Working in a casino does have benefits. One of which is free food. The EDR, or employee dining room, is a benefit to all casino hotel employees. Think of it as a free buffet. Some hotels limit this buffet to one trip a day, some don’t care. Some have cooks dedicated to making you a grilled chicken breast, grilled cheese or even a hamburger, while others just have items out in dishes. Most of them are even trying to offer a few healthy options. Either way you look at it it’s free food that employees didn’t have to pay for. That equals an amazing benefit. Just make sure you don’t abuse that benefit so much that you need a new uniform every six months. In six years, my benefit cost me two sizes.

Having three different shifts available to you can be really good or really bad, depending on if you get the shift you wanted. It can get a little difficult when you work one shift and your spouse works another. Planning vacations can be a little bit harder and you don’t get to have those evening cuddles watching TV. If you’re like me and don’t always watch the same stuff your husband does, it can be a good thing that means you get to catch up on all your shows. Believe it or not, there are lots of parents who would prefer to work a grave shift, which is somewhere between 11 PM and 7 AM. This means they get to tuck their child in goodnight and they are home in time to make them breakfast and get them off to school.

Another perk that locals enjoy having is that grocery stores are 24 hours, most fast food restaurants are 24 hours, and a lot of sit-down restaurants are actually 24 hours. This means no matter when you’re hungry or what you’re craving you can always find it.

The best perk to working and living in Las Vegas? NO STATE INCOME TAXES! Yep, you work in Nevada and the Casinos pay the state taxes for us. Doesn’t matter if you work in a hotel casino or not!

Let’s talk about the famous $20 trick (2014/12/5)

It seems the word has been spreading like wildfire that if you grease the hands of the front desk, meaning give the person a $20 tip, you will get a free upgrade to the best suite on property. In some case, this does and has worked, but not always. So this lends to the question, how much power foes the front desk agent really have?

The front desk agent is empowered with a toolbox. This toolbox is supposed to be used for guest recovery or, in some case, to keep you from walking out the door and reserving a room at another hotel. The toolbox is really just a list of offers the agent can make without getting approval from a manager. The toolbox normally contains permission for room upgrades, breakfast vouchers, show vouchers. Resort fee waivers or even $10-$20 off your room rate and the toolbox will vary by hotel. Some hotels only allow their agents to price match.

Nicole Marshall's 2-weekly bllog "The Local Minute"

Will the $20 trick work? The short answer is sometimes. Never tip what you are not prepared to lose. Know that offering the tip does not guarantee you an upgrade and you can’t, well shouldn’t, ask for it back if you don’t get anything in return. I would recommend checking the hotel’s occupancy before you check in so you know what deck they are playing with. If a hotel is 95% or higher in occupancy, they are less likely to offer any upgrades or room changes of any kind. I would also recommend checking online to see what room types they are even selling for all dates you are staying so you know what type of an upgrade to ask for. Just because they have a suite available the first night, does not mean they have one all nights of your stay. And please don’t lie and say it’s a birthday when it is not. They can smell a lie a mile away. Everyone lies and says it’s a birthday or wedding. It’s better to be honest and say you are on a budget but would love an upgrade if available. They can relate to that.

Most importantly, be nice and friendly. Ask how their day is. Compliment them. Human kindness will go farther than a cash tip.

What I Expect for Customer Service (2014/26/12)

The Local Minute by Nicole MarshallMy rant today is based on an experience I had the other day. Is it hard to provide plus one, amazing customer service? No. Do I expect it everywhere I go? Yes. Maybe I am jaded because doing what I do and knowing what I know, I expect to get amazing service and the extra effort everywhere I go. I wasn’t walkway like this though. There was a time when I would just not leave a tip for a bad waitress or leave the penny with the tails up. (Someone told me one time a tip of just that was telling the server the service was bad.) I can remember being chased out of a Applebees by a waitress because we did not leave her a tip.

I am happy to say I no longer do that. Teaching people how to provide plus one service and how to go the extra mile has taught me a lot as well. I have learned that if I expect great service, I also need to ensure I only put myself in situations to get that service. And there is unspoken customer service as well. There is a great little bar/restaurant near my house that I went to for years. Service was 95% of the time great and the food pretty good. Prices were nice. But the bathrooms were disgusting and I would just overlook it. Until one day I realized that was wrong of me. I could not overlook this because of the other redeeming qualities. The bathroom told me management didn’t care about the employees or the guests. I stopped going there and have not returned for 3 years now. I refuse to. In fact, I have crossed off several restaurant and retail stores that I used to love of my list based on the condition of their bathroom. One simple thing, one gesture of unspoken customer service, and they lost my business and recommendations.

I also notice that more and more I will call a manager over at the end of my meal. with the server present, and tell rave about my service and food. I never take for granted the manager will pass it along to the server so it makes a statement that I tell the manager in front of the server. I will also do the same for not so great service. It may seem awkward the first time you tell a manager about the poor service with the server right there, but if you present it well enough, they should thank you. It also gives the server the time to redeem themselves and earn a fantastic tip. And I will tip even bigger when they do that or thank me for telling them how to serve them better. I have even had a few servers tell me thanks to me, they are getting bigger tips with no more effort, just changing a few things around and their body language.

I know that makes me a snob of sorts and some people hate going out with me. I also know I am rubbing off on my poor child who will comment on service failures and successes as well. So I do expect a lot as far as service. And I think I deserve it. And so do you, so always expect…no demand…great service and never except less.