By Ryan Fitzgerald – Co-Editor-in-Chief
Spring break is a week most students use to vacation somewhere warm and sandy, return home to relax or enjoy free time, but for the seven students in Professor Alexandrina Tanvuia’s hospitality class, Exploration of the Las Vegas Casino Industry, there was no better choice of destination than Sin City itself.
The class traveled to Vegas with Tanvuia on March 13 and returned on March 17, staying at the 4-star Planet Hollywood Resort for the duration of their trip. “Planet Hollywood is centrally located in Vegas, and targets younger guests,” said Tanvuia.
The plan was not for students to run wild at The Strip and gamble their money away, instead they learned about the casino business through firsthand experience. According to Tanvuia, the group had a very busy agenda, including site visits to casinos, property tours of resorts, and meetings with executives of Wynn Resort, Caesars Palace, among others.
“I based our meetings off of student interests,” said Tanvuia. “One student is interested in entertainment so we will meet with members of the Hakkasan nightclub and Harrah’s Hotel & Casino to see how that aspect is integrated [in the city],” she said.
Students examined all aspects of the casino industry, meeting with executives in operations, entertainment, and hosts.“I wanted students to see the differences in the design, theme, and customer service [of the casinos],” said Tanvuia. “Looking at the marketing aspect, I wanted them to notice different strategies casinos targeting locals vs. casinos targeting tourists are using, as well as compare strategies casinos in Massachusetts are using compared to those in Vegas.”
This is the first time Tanvuia conducted this trip at Lasell, but knows the city well. “I used to live in Las Vegas so I have some connections,” she said. “I did this trip in the past while I was a professor at Southern New Hampshire University where I took a class of over 20 students.” The trip was integrated as part of the class, so students who enrolled in it last semester knew how they would be spending their spring break.
“This is a group of very good students who are engaged in the class,” said Tanvuia. “We only meet once a week, but the class is intense because [students] have a lot of research to do.”
The students in the class, such as junior Grace Hogan, want to work in the casino management industry in the future. “We’re trying to facilitate opportunities for students who want to be in this industry,” said Tanvuia. Hogan did networking and connected with professionals before the trip and was able to get in touch with VIP agent of Caesars Palace Kadie Sturgeon, on LinkedIn. The job of a VIP agent is to give excellent customer service to patrons of the resort who are high-rollers. They are offered preferred services and provided with basically anything they want, according to Hogan.
“I was looking for young people who work for Caesars and other entertainment groups and sent Kadie a message on LinkedIn introducing myself,” said Hogan. “She got back to me in less than 24 hours, was willing to help me and gave me her phone number.” Hogan met with the Sturgeon when she reached Vegas and made an immediate con- nection. “This was really fun for me because it went from a quick message on LinkedIn, to sitting down and talking to someone who is in the career I want to be in,” said Hogan. Hogan plans on spending time in Vegas this summer, after conduction an interview for an internship position this summer from meeting with Sturgeon.
“Kadie looked up who I would be interviewing with and gave me a high recommendation just after meeting with me,” said Hogan. During the interview an emergency came up and the recruitment officer had to leave. “I guess a lesson I took from this is that in Vegas everything can change so quickly,” said Hogan.
After following up with the officer, she scheduled a phone interview with her in the future, and plans on participating in an internship this summer. Tanvuia assured Hogan that just meeting with them and making a good first impression was more important than anything. “I made so many interactions and connections with different people and expand- ed my network 50 percent larger after this trip,” said Hogan.
“Lasell College affording us this trip is absolutely invaluable to our future.” “I would recommend anyone going on a school trip like this to reach out to a company [beforehand],” said Hogan.