MGM Grand and The Mirage both had good earnings

Nov 6, 2012 3:00 AM

Loveman is not the only senior resort executive who has learned to lace his spiels and assessments with references to the jobs this or that expansion will create across the landscape of an expanding gaming industry.

MGM Resorts CEO James Murren was quick to note the company’s fascination with expansion opportunities in Maryland could “bring in a number of much needed jobs.” The same might also be said of the opportunity that appears to await at least one company in Toronto where the powers that be appear interested in hearing from companies with big plans and the bankroll necessary to bring those plans to life.

Murren and his lieutenants have not wasted an opportunity to make the point that Las Vegas’ No. 1 industry is showing signs of a return to good health. Murren noted the MGM Grand and The Mirage both had their best quarters in recent years.

“We do continue to see signs of improvement in Las Vegas,” he reminded financial analysts who were hanging all over his words like ants looking for a taste of sugar. Convention booking next year and beyond are improving.

But it may be awhile before we see any sign of the swagger associated with the good old days when construction cranes could be seen in all directions and hotel occupancy rates were routinely in the mid to high 90s.

“We still have a fragile customer out there,” another MGM official warned. Some of the MGM resurgence at properties elsewhere (except for Macau which is universally described with words such as “vibrant”) have clearly benefited from the growing reliance on new marketing techniques that got little attention or simply did not exist before the onset of the Great Recession.

Companywide promotion of MGM’s new My Life customer loyalty program has boosted the number of members to somewhere north of 30 million. That’s according to Murren who also said MGM continues adding companies to its list of cross-marketing partners, businesses where gamblers can earn or redeem My Life points.

The most recent addition is Royal Caribbean Cruises. And that brought Murren to his enthusiasm for MGM’s recent entry into the virtual world of Internet gaming and its “My Vegas” game where a monthly average of 250,000 people have been earning and even redeeming the virtual points that can be turned into “real gifts” at any one of the company’s Strip properties.

Whatever the future brings, cross-marketing agreements of one kind or another will be an important building block. So will those looming Internet opportunities that will continue taking root either nationally or at state and regional levels in election results.

Not every company can afford the price of entry to the Las Vegas Strip, even though those prices are not what they once were, but companies big and small have found an efficient assortment of virtual tools and new age marketing plans for extending their reach.

It was Murren who said, “We want to get as close as possible to our customers even when they’re at home.”

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected].

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