777… Meet Me in the Casino

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Kansas Star Casino's expansive Ballroom can be divided into six separate rooms or used as a whole with a capacity of 1,600 guests, depending on the configuration.

How to Make Your Business Meeting At the Casino Pay Off

By Astrid Zeppenfeld

Businesses are always looking for new, innovative ways to create enjoyable special events and meetings for attendees. So what better way to combine business with pleasure than to offer the fun atmosphere of a casino during your next conference? And you wouldn’t even have to travel far… Kansas has plenty of casinos with available meeting space!

What are your chances?

Just a quick search using the Meet Kansas online resource directory reveals many options for your meetings. Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway advertises on their website that they “can accommodate anywhere from 20 to 300 guests and be arranged for any type of event; from a cocktail reception or intimate gathering, to an awards banquet, or large business meeting.” The inside dining and meeting options are available to 140 guests or fewer at the Marquee Café or the Stars Room, up to 200 guests in the Sports Bar, and larger events can be held on the outdoor patio.

So you can avoid a brain-storming session for a new product launch right next to a slot-machine, Prairie Band Casino & Resort offers 12,000 square feet of event space for up to 750 attendees, as well as private board rooms to hold smaller meetings of up to 15 participants. Three of these board rooms are currently under renovation, unfortunately. However, in nice fall weather, this is nothing to fret about… you can always do business the old-fashioned way – on the golf course that is directly across the street from the resort. Chele Kuhn, Sales and Events Manager for Prairie Band, tells Meet Kansas, “We do a lot of corporate retreats, where they can use the golf course and the casino.”

Just 35 miles north of Prairieband Casino is the Sac and Fox Casino in Powhattan, KS, which boasts the Silver Fox Showroom. Complete with a stage, this 6,0000 square-foot event rooms fits approximately 600 people.

The Kansas Crossing Casino & Hotel is a viable casino to hold your company’s next meeting or event as well, with 4,000 square feet of meeting and reception space and the capacity to accommodate up to 250 dinner guests and 450 guests in theatre seating.  It is conveniently connected to a Hampton Inn with 123 rooms and suites, allowing for easy access to your company’s casino conference if your attendees stay in that hotel.

The Boot Hill Casino & Resort in Dodge City spells out exactly what it has to offer: “The perfect space to be used for private parties, social events, business meetings, classrooms, and much more.” The Longhorn Room, with its own private bar, can be used for your meeting and is located right next to the hustle and bustle of the gaming room. Your other option is the Firesides Restaurant & Bar.

At the Kansas Star Casino, Hotel, & Event Center, corporate conventions, trade shows, and business expos are at home in this venue. This casino boasts a grand 11,234 square foot-ballroom to host anywhere between 700 and 1,600 attendees. Should you hold your next business meeting at this facility, be sure to look at its three private boardrooms to select from. Similar to the Kansas Crossing Casino & Hotel, this casino is connected to a Hampton Inn & Suites facility with 300 rooms, making it easy for your attendees staying at the conjoined hotel to arrive at your event. 

Meet and Play, Play and Meet

Business meetings do not just mean business to their attendees. In 2016, business meetings generated $325 billion in direct spending, according to a report generated by the Events Industry Council, Meetings Mean Business Coalition, and Oxford Economics. This report was released in February of 2018. It seems like gaming properties caught onto this, as the American Gaming Association (AGA) reported in June of 2019: “Gaming revenue for the U.S. commercial casino industry reached an all-time high of $41.7 billion in 2018, up 3.5 percent from the previous year.”

And why not? In a time where old-fashioned business meetings with a networking reception – followed by hours upon hours of sitting at tables and taking notes while someone is presenting information from a podium – are being labeled as “too boring to be informative”, meeting planners everywhere are looking for ways to attract attendees and really engage them throughout the whole event. Quite often, this results in changing the venue so nobody needs to stare at the same gray walls all day. Meeting and event planners are opening themselves up to looking at options which provide colorful excitement and vibrant entertainment. What better venue than a casino to meet these criteria? Especially when, at the same time, casinos have opened themselves up to bringing more than just gaming entertainment to the table.

Many are now resorts, offering the ability to stay at a connected hotel and play at the casino through “Play & Stay packages”. Some of them offer outdoor space to enjoy nature or play tennis and golf. One can often find 5-star restaurants on the properties, enticing patrons with succulent lobster meals and sizzling steaks. Several casino resorts have added spas to their dining and entertainment menus. Meeting planners may also find themselves enjoying other types of recreational entertainment such as attending a casino concert or going on large bus tours with their company associates. So, building the space out to welcome businesses to hold meetings and events, was by no means a big stretch and seems like a win-win solution for everyone. Chele Kuhn explains, “Businesses do not have to go off-premises to rent out AV-equipment; everything is here. We do full catering, full bar services in all of our rooms, we have the stage, dance floors, tables, table cloths, you name it.”

Are you willing to take your chances?

Denise Humphrey, Assistant CEO at the Sunflower Association of Realtors, would agree with Kuhn. She has held the association’s annual banquet event for seven years straight at the Prairie Band Casino & Resort, and in her opinion, “It’s been great. Quite honestly, they just blow you away on service, partially due to the fact that they still have the same great people to work with. They know us, they know what we want, and Jason, the banquet chef, has been there for five or six years. We don’t even schedule a tasting anymore; that’s the quality of the food we know we are going to get!”

But how does holding the event at a casino make it more unique than holding it at any other convention center? Humphrey’s response: “We block rooms at the hotel and it gives our members, who choose to stay there overnight, options. They can go out and gamble and the rooms are always very nice.” Meeting planners need to give attendees options; the more, the better. But Humphrey makes another point for casinos as meeting space: “I don’t know if it’s because casinos have that other source of revenue from gambling, but they don’t charge for anything extra, like A/V or a podium; those extra charges can add up at regular meeting venues.”

Mary Ann Kramer, Communications Specialist at Frito-Lay, echoes the sentiment: “Part of the reason we like to have our annual celebration at the casino is that they have the hotel there, which is nice, and it gives folks things to do before and after the four-hour event. They can make a whole weekend out of it.”

Sounds like holding a business event at a casino could be hitting the meeting jackpot!

MK

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