Global Conference 2009
CEO Conversation: Past, Present and Future of Las Vegas With Steve Wynn
Tuesday, April 28, 2009 / 8:00 am - 9:15 am
Steve Wynn spoke to a packed ballroom about Las Vegas, the economy and simple truths like these: Humans possess a wonderful capacity to adjust to negative events and quickly return to normal behavior, and businesses must keep their promises to their customers.
"I′m in the business of human aspirations," Wynn said, and ensuring the customer′s hopes are realized or exceeded. "I place great trust in simple truths with a sense of history, asking, 'What do I know for sure?' I start with the simple before moving to the complex aspects of any issue.
"I know that Las Vegas is a flower in America's garden. If the garden is healthy, Las Vegas is healthy. The present economic downturn is part of the natural business cycles that Las Vegas is familiar with. Just as Las Vegas blossomed over the last decade, she weathered the 1974 oil crisis and the early 1990′s recession," Wynn said.
Las Vegas weathers the downturns by keeping its promise as a premier party destination. Maybe that isn't the loftiest notion, he said, but the economy won′t change human behavior, and Las Vegas does it better than anywhere else. Fierce competition causes casinos to learn from each other and try to outdo each other. As long as that competition exists, Las Vegas will keep its promise and evolve to meet customer demands with the convenience of a safe, easy-to-reach travel destination, Wynn said.
To evolve requires the right capital structure. It is a company's main form of marketing and ensures that the staff feels safe to focus on the guest. The guest experience is what matters; it suffers without attention to capital structure.
Consider the example of cost cutting. Everyone wants to cut costs, but there is a difference between cutting waste and cutting cost, Wynn said. In economic downturns it is more important than ever to keep promises to customers. It means avoiding illogical actions like cutting costs that come at the expense of the customer unless you are also cutting price, Wynn said.
In responding to audience questions, Wynn noted that local gaming and places like Wynn Macau still benefit Las Vegas. Las Vegas is far more than gambling; it is an experience, he said.
He also looks forward to President Obama's focusing on job creation as his top priority. He wants the administration to target small-business growth through tax incentives.
It is also important to send the right message, Wynn said. People should be encouraged to attend meetings and conferences in places like Las Vegas because the exchange of ideas is more important than ever in tough times. It not only helps the hospitality industry — a huge part of the economy — but it also is vital to the innovation that will fuel prosperity.