Inside Rob Oseland
Hard Hat Touring The SLS Las Vegas
Dial 0 For Operator
It's a lot of fun to see a place before it opens. It's also a lot of fun to talk to operators. With the good ones, their excitement can be intoxicating. I felt that here too.
Despite so much work to be done, the spaces all pretty much seemed to be up. The restaurants often had some of their finishes already in place, plus the kitchens and back-of-house looked more or less ready to go.
It's really neat to be inside and see a property come to life.
However, I've done this a few times now so I've learned to try not to let the 'fun factor' of a pre-opening tour disconnect me from from reality. I toured CityCenter and Cosmopolitan before opening and in retrospect, feel that I may have succumbed to the hoopla. You can't let yourself get swept away in the excitement of construction. There are still some serious questions to answer, particularly for SLS.
How they're going to get people inside? How they're going to deal with the hulking blue monster that is Fontainebleau? How they're going to avoid the database trap that The Cosmopolitan and their great location fell into? What lessons can be learned from other properties?
On location, SLS holds a mixed bag of obstacle and opportunity. They're positioned at the corner of a very busy intersection and are hard set to siphon off traffic. The neighborhood is full of casino-hotels that are on the lower end of the spectrum - they see an opportunity to be the 'nice place' that Circus and Riviera customers visit - and they're pricing food items with that in mind, vs. just going after the super-high-end. Also, the neighborhood is slated to improve quite a bit over the next few years.
On Fontainebleau, it doesn't sound like there's much love lost between SLS and its abandoned neighbor. Like many I speak to, SLS would love to see it taken down. Notably, even as interest in the North Strip improves, the chatter is about all the parcels *except* Fontainebleau. Carl Icahn may not be able to unload it as easily as he may have once imagined. The construction crane recently was removed so perhaps we'll get our collective wish and the place will be sold for scrap.
On the the lack of customer database, sbe firmly believes that their foothold in Los Angeles and other SLS markets gives them a leg up vs. a place like Cosmopolitan who had NO marketing database when they opened. As they'll say, the sbe F&B outlets they've got in L.A. are proven (at least in a moneymaking sense). Of course, they have the old Sahara database as well, though I wonder how well it aligns with the customers they're shooting for. Interestingly, my question to Oseland about cross-marketing with Hyde Lounge at Bellagio came back with a strange-to-me answer about SLS and Hyde serving 'different audiences,' leading me to wonder if this is a contractual stipulation to refrain from cross-marketing within MGM properties.