Retail and celebrity chefs: UNLV panels to help casinos plot strategies for adding non-gaming Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports · September 11, 2019 at 4:35 am UNLV’s Gaming & Hospitality Series resumes Sept. 18th with a focus on retail, food and beverage as casinos across the country add to their non-gaming amenities and try to differentiate themselves from competitors. The session runs from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the UNLV campus and will be live streamed on the Internet. It will feature experts in food and beverage on the latest trends in dining and what works and what doesn’t in a casino setting, including the use of celebrity chefs. Retail experts will talk about opportunities beyond gift shops and convenience stores and what type of shopping experiences perform best in casinos. “A lot of casinos outside of Vegas are still in the process of developing their retail and food and beverage options with the competition all across the country,” said Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business and one of the sponsors of the series. Retail kicks off the day with a session entitled, Shop Til You Drop on casinos trying to offer guests the “total experience” and how shopping can mirror the gambling motivation, Gros said. The panel will discuss the options from high-end merchandise, what brands appeal to gamblers, setting up an outlet, and should casinos should own the stores. Panelists will discuss the real estate factor and how the retail layout blends into the resort. Gros will moderate the session. “It’s perplexing when you look at how retail is performing (with online competition) and all of the closed shopping malls,” Gros said. “It’s difficult to get into, but if you can do it right and make an experience out of it and add to the gaming experience, it can be really successful.” The panel includes Jim Heilmann, general manager of Area15, an experiential retail and entertainment complex in Las Vegas that opens in 2020; and Jeff Hartmann, former CEO of Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and co-founder and president of Experientia, a company that works to create experiences for casino resorts that include non-gaming amenities. “Both are at the cutting edge of retail and the gaming industry,” Gros said. The rest of the day’s program starts at 10 a.m. and focuses on food and beverage with a final session on celebrity chefs. One panel discusses food technology systems and programs that create savings and efficiencies. The program deals with how casinos buy, prepare and serve food quickly and manage leftovers. There will be a discussion on how mobile devices are becoming an option to order food and drinks. Rino Armeni, CEO of the Las Vegas Business Academy and CEO of Armeni Enterprises will moderate the discussion with Rohith Kori, senior director of strategy with software and business services provider Agilysys; and John F. Glaser, COO with GSL Gaming Group. Armeni will moderate a second panel on the art and science of food and beverage. The panel will discuss how restaurants, bars and other food and beverage outlets impact the operations of a resort. They will talk about if celebrity chefs are worth the cost for a casino. The panelists include Karla Perez-Larragoite, vice president of Gaming with Sysco; Elizabeth Blau, CEO of Blau + Associates who developed restaurants for Wynn Resorts properties in Las Vegas; and James Mulidore, senior director of food and beverage with The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The final session will focus on how celebrity chefs have become a part of the Las Vegas Strip and other casino resort destinations. The panel includes Tom Kaplan, senior managing partner with the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group; and Mark Andelbradt, corporate executive chef with Spago as part of the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group. “Tom will talk about opening a celebrity restaurant at an independent location versus a casino,” Gros said. “Wolfgang has so many outlets in MGM properties, and they just moved Spago from the Forum Shops to the Bellagio. And we will talk about whether celebrity chefs have a lifespan. We have seen it with some celebrity chefs, and it will be interesting to hear what they say on how to keep it fresh.” The onsite registration is $199, and costs $99 for the streaming of the program that can be watched live or on replay. For more information, go to https://conferences.regfox.com/unlv-gaming-hospitality-education-series-2019.