The music you play in the casino hasn’t changed for a very long time. It’s all sad, lost love, women complaining about bad, bad men, and very loud music. It makes me want to run out of the casino. Don’t you think happy, lively music would be more appropriate for having fun, staying and playing? I can’t tell you how much I hate your music. Even your employees want to wear earplugs.
That’s funny. We actually have it on rotation now. On Thursdays it’s disco, on Fridays it’s Eighties and so forth. I can’t tell you how much I agree with that sentiment that the music has to be right and at times my staff laughs. They know that I’ve got the “No Ke$ha” rule. I don’t want any of that stuff that we know is going to annoy our customers. It’s taken some time to get the music programmed property but I appreciate the feedback and it’s something that we continue to improve upon.
Will anything be done to ease the notoriously long check-in lines?
Absolutely. The long check-in lines, there’s a few things going in. The easy answer is there’s just not enough people checking [guests] in. But the slightly more complicated answer has to do with the timing and availability of rooms, scheduling the housekeeping staff and turning the rooms fast enough, and getting customers to understand check-in and check-out is at a certain time, and we need these rules in because it has a ripple effect. It’s kind of like when you’re driving down the freeway and where’s all this traffic – but now it’s suddenly eased and I don’t see an accident. Well, it’s because of something that happened an hour ago that had this ripple effect. That’s the same thing with the front-desk line.
But we are addressing that. Specifically, we’re trying to bring technology into the picture. We’re using kiosks to try and take some of the load off with self check-in and check-out, hopefully reduce the burden on the front desk. We tried kiosks in the past and the customer adoption was pretty low. The number of people that were willing to go to a self-service kiosk was abysmally low. I just scratched my head. I mean, half these people flew in and checked in on an kiosk in an airline but yet they come to the hotel room [and] they refuse to use the kiosk. So we pulled it but it just got to the point where we’ve got to try again and do whatever it takes to try and offload more of the burden onto an automated systems.
The longest lines that we have at check-in are on Fridays between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. It’s counterintuitive and the answer is the drive-in traffic from L.A., with people taking off from work and driving five or six hours to get here, then the front desk gets slammed at midnight. So one thing that we’ve tried to do there is programming later shows, hopefully working the line and trying to pull people out and say, ‘Hey, you’re in Vegas. It’s time to relax. It’s time to have a good time. Yes, the line is long right now but let’s take your bags, let’s get you settled, let’s get you a drink. Why don’t you go see a show? By the time they come back, the line will have dissipated.
Finally, one of the things I haven’t discussed is something that we’ve being piloting over the last few weeks, a concept we call our Luck Ambassador. On Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we have various celebrity impersonators walking around the casino floor, trying to help in sort of a mobile-concierge/problem-solving capacity. We have an Elvis Presley that walks around and tries to answer questions about where the theaters are, entertaining the guests while they’re in the front-desk line, explaining, ‘Why don’t you check your bags at the bell desk and go have a nice dinner?’ A lot of times people don’t realize that we have a satellite box office that’s open for show times, so they can get their tickets quickly. We’re actively trying to do things that reduce the burden on the front desk and make it a better experience.
Is the Riv considering a closer association with the Liberace estate and possibly having a large section of items from the museum on-site?
[cautiously] We’ve talked with them in the past about doing stuff. They were a bit part of our 50th anniversary that we had in 2005 but, to date, we haven’t been able to come up with something that makes sense for both parties. But it is something that we’ve considered and that we continue to look at.
I have been on the roof of the Riviera above the casino about 50 to 60 feet high above the Strip. Have you guys ever considered having an outdoor restaurant up there?
We’ve looked at that as potential restaurant space, as well as a potential adult pool, because there is a pool up there. We’ve also looked at doing some nightclub or nightlife activities up there. The truth of the matter is we’re not really focused on that second floor right now. The focus is, Let’s fix the main spaces first before we look at an expanded area.
Given your play regarding craps odds will the Riv consider offering video poker players a reason to walk into the door?
I need to check what our video poker odds are but the last time I looked, they were pretty good, pretty competitive – in fact, a little too competitive on some of the games. Video poker counts for a sizable percentage of our coin-in and we have a pretty loyal following, but it’s absolutely something we will look at.
Would you consider putting at least one (if not a bank of six or eight) Liberace machines back in the westernmost, center area of the casino? I recall these machines were located in the area described within the last 10 years and were new at the time. More telling, IMO, is that the time these machines were removed is almost exactly the same time that the Riviera began to see a decline in revenue.
If [Jeff] would tell me exactly where the spot is, we would be more than happy to put them back. I’ll get with my slot guy and be happy to put some Liberace games on the floor, if there’s players that want to play them.
1,000X odds at craps may get a headline, but lousy odds on prop and field bets speak to real gamblers that your game is not the best in town. Lets see the 12 pay triple in the field and the hop bets pay 15 to 1 and 30 to 1, if not more.
I’d disagree that the 1,000X odds isn’t a compelling gamble for players. It’s the most popular bet on the felt. Some of these field bets are kind of what you on the side when you get bored with a standard craps bets. I had a player in the last two days who was playing 1,000X odds for hours in a private game and he had a great time, said it was the best gamble he’d seen in his life and he’d be back in two weeks. Hopefully, we’ll get some of our money back on that player, because he did pretty well. I’d argue that it is extremely compelling and competitive for craps players.
Will you ever bring back the lounge area as it was so many years ago? P.S. Good luck. I always loved the Riv.
Thanks. The main bar, the Bistro, there are plans to expand the exterior of that a bit. On the interior of the Bistro we have updated programming, so we do have free entertainment there, five nights a week.
Have you considered making a little section of the casino an “Original Riv” area? I recall the Riviera has 100,000 square feet of casino floor, so making a little chunk of it a recreation of a 1955 casino, with classic tables, slots and decor might be an inexpensive little attention getter.
It’s something that we’ve looked at with our entertainment, the nostalgia. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as well as we were hoping. So what we’re trying to focus on is authenticity, not retro for the sake of being nostalgic or retro. With the coin slots, we looked at that a few months and, unfortunately, unless you have the equipment already in house, it’s prohibitively expensive to go out and procure that stuff. It’s one of these things that’s not cost effective. We are doing more analog, with the [Pinball Hall of Fame] and sports-book operation. We think there is a place for authenticity and we’ll push it in areas where we see it working. And in areas where it’s not working, we’ll continue to tweak.
Tomorrow: Andy Choy makes what is — for a casino CEO — a radical demand from Las Vegas.