Good vibrations: It’s time to market inspirational speakers in the casino-resort industryBy John L. Smith, CDC Gaming ReportsMay 7, 2018 at 10:44 pmIt came from an unlikely place, but I take inspiration wherever I find it. And earlier this month I found it in abundance in the gymnasium at Pahrump Valley High School approximately 60 miles from the lights of the Las Vegas Strip.That’s where the Valley Electric Association utility cooperative held its annual membership meeting. Serving approximately 45,000 people, Valley Electric is diminutive in comparison to NVEnergy. But hundreds of its member-owners showed plenty of spirit during the annual meeting.Amy Van Dyken-Rouen and Danny “The Count” Koker made certain of that. She is the six-time Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer. He is the star of the History Channel’s hit reality series “Counting Cars.” Both were featured speakers at the meetingA Valley High graduate, Koker is famous for his ability to restore automobiles and motorcycles. An ATV accident left Van Dyken paralyzed, but you might say she’s also in the restoration business.Both gave entertaining and heart-felt talks on common but undeniably inspiring themes. They gave off enough positive energy to light up the town.Taking the stage to rousing applause, Van Dyken immediately set about shattering stereotypes of those “confined” to wheelchairs. She was dynamic and downright entertaining. Her story was poignant, but she was flat out funny when describing her unlikely rise to the top of the highly competitive world of swimming. Her accident nearly killed her, but it was easy to see that it also made her a more appreciative person. It’s hard to keep a tear in your eye when you’re laughing, and she possesses the timing of a standup – or is that sit-down? – comedian.Wearing his trademark bandanna, Koker described himself as essentially a rock-loving gearhead who was raised in a family of gospel musicians. After taking a job as a camera operator at a local television station, as a lark he added duty as a late-night horror movie host. And “Count Cool Rider” was born.How Koker, an avid motorcycle rider, turned that fortune cookie of an opportunity into a feast of business and celebrity success without losing his common touch is more than entertaining. His free-styling talk meandered a bit, and his allusions to his Christian faith may not have been for everyone, but the roaring crowd response was genuine. he gave love and received plenty in return.I think they’d light up the Strip. And it’s time for some creative thinker in the casino industry to design a show that features a collection of inspiring stories that provide entertainment with a message of hope.Sound too much like the Hallmark Channel for your tastes? Not enough late-night partying and choreographed hedonism to play in Las Vegas, or any other casino center?Maybe.But it wouldn’t take much effort to find answers to those questions.I think it might surprise people.No one is saying a group of fast-paced testimonials featuring polished and energetic speakers would replace Tony Bennett or Cirque du Soleil, but if you’re going to grow the market you’ll have to look at Las Vegas entertainment in new ways.Some will call this idea positively nutty and against everything casino resorts stand for. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of that.But before you laugh me off the stage, remember that an industry that wants to attract increasing throngs of customers must remember that they come from widely diverse backgrounds and have eclectic interests that don’t necessarily include the traditional Vegas diversions.In challenging times, visitors will take inspiration where they find it. That’s something savvy Las Vegas resort marketers should think about.It might just pay spiritual as well as fiscal dividends.Contact John L. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.