by Calanit Atia
Caesars Entertainment’s new 550,000-sq.ft. meeting and conference venue is 70 percent completed and on schedule to open March 2020. Over $390 million in advance sales have been contracted for meetings and events with more than 1 million nights booked. In celebration of this fantastic milestone, Exhibit City News sat down with Lisa Messina (pictured right), vice president of sales at Caesars Entertainment. She joined the company a year and a half ago, after years with Hilton, and now leads a team of 160.
What is the allure of the new location for customers?
LM: Caesars Entertainment got it right with the design, the pillarless ballrooms and the size, the accouterments of ballroom space, and beautiful interior design. It’s a blank canvas, so depending on whether you are a major tech corporation trying to put together a huge user group conference or a major international association, you can work within the confines of the space.
CAESARS FORUM is a standalone building, so you don’t have to compete with hotel loading docks. You have a one-story level. You can drive tractor-trailers into it, with two main loading docks. Move-in-move-out is seamless, right off of Koval Lane, very easy access to the highway and saves our clients money.
Did it have a sales impact on other Caesars properties?
LM: We are up almost 40 percent from our best year ever in future bookings. We had Rio, Paris and Caesars Palace customers, who required more space, the business was growing, so CAESARS FORUM made sense. Now we can service customers who require bigger ballroom space, and we gained new clients who always needed this type of square footage we could not offer previously. As an example, the ballrooms at CAESARS FORUM are 110,000 square feet each, our largest ballroom before that was at Paris Hotel measuring 85,000 square feet, and Caesars Palace measured 50,000 square feet.
Tell me about your team and your sales approach.
LM: I lead 160 team members and have 13 directors of sales that report to me. My focus is on coaching them and setting the culture with them because I may not have the opportunity to meet with each one individually.
I rely on setting expectations with my leadership and ensuring that they go out and emulate that. Each of them will have their own style, but at the core, we want to make sure we have the right people on the team that gets what we want to achieve, and they go run the division very much like I would want them to operate. We are aligned, we think alike, we want to achieve the same things, we want to take care of our team members and customers the same way. That makes it more manageable.
In terms of setting expectations from our team, we have huge responsibility. We have a lot of things we are trying to accomplish, it is not just about the revenue. It is being a part of your brand, the face of your brand, so everything I do, or my team members do through our actions, our customers are going to make a judgment call about what type of brand, and what type of company we are.
Therefore, we set our expectations about how to behave, what you expect out of their performance because we have a responsibility.
What is your brand you want people to see?
LM: I have a brand within a brand, since we are meetings, and the company is a gaming and entertainment company. We are one division of that but parlaying what the greater brand means I want customers to know that we have integrity, are trustworthy, and we genuinely want you to meet your objectives and be successful.
I am going to be professional and keep my word and make things happen if I said it is going to happen. Going back to our brand, we are having a little fun while we are doing it. We have so many resources and tools at our fingertips—concerts, entertainers and celebrity chefs; they are all a part of what we do.
Calanit Atia is a Las Vegas destination expert, an award-winning event planner, founder and president of A to Z Events, columnist, Air Force veteran and speaker. Contact her at Info@AtoZevents.com.
This story originally appeared in the January/February issue of Exhibit City News, p. 20. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/exhibitcitynews_janfeb_2020