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Meet Marilyn Winn

By JohnH on Thursday, 3rd March 2011 3:09pm
  » filed under Las Vegas tagged: wynn las vegas   marilyn winn    comments: 21

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In case you hadn't heard, VT Super Friend, Vegas Gang mate, and all around gaming-minded genius, Dr. Dave Schwartz today posted his much-anticipated interview with new the Wynn Las Vegas grand pooh-bah, Marilyn Winn Spiegel. The discussion is filled with tales of her early days at the Denver Dry Goods Company, formative years at the Holiday Casino, and the new managerial philosophies she's bringing to Wynn Las Vegas (You just got Silo-ed!)

However, behind the discussion about her days hawking handsaws in Denver and how, under her management, Paris Las Vegas went almost ten years without a single carpet change, Ms. Winn outlined her new philosophy toward customer call center interactions. Soon, the days when you just called room reservations for (Whooda thunk?) a room reservation will be gone. You'll now be offered one-stop vacation planning shopping right on one phone call. Want a dinner reservation? This young lady will be more than happy to assist you. How about tickets to Le Reve? Walk across the street and get them half-price at Tix4Tonight. Her pleasure. How about a tee time at the Wynn Golf Club? Eh, Marilyn didn't cover that one in the interview. It's consolidation and efficiency at its corporatized best, folks.

However, it's consolidation that now makes one of my favorite pre-Vegas trip activities almost redundant. See, I love being able to book a room at Wynn or Encore and then call up a concierge a few days before my vacation in order to have that lovely lady or gentleman help me plan my vacation. It's one of those fringe benefits that should always come along with spending your vacation at a AAA Five Diamond Award-winning resort. And yet, now that fringe benefit has been made redundant by Ms. Winn's laser focus on efficiency.

Now, I know that that's an entirely selfish and conceited opinion towards Ms. Winn's new managerial style, but consider this: that very concierge has now had half of their job duties wiped away. Moreover, the possibility that I would stop by the desk and drop off a tip for the person who had helped me a few days back has been completely eliminated. Now I might not interact at all with that person, might not experience the service they have been hired to provide, and might have a lesser experience with the property because of that. You've just experienced an erosion in service.

It's a very small thing that is now kinda/sorta gone, but it was a welcoming aspect of Wynn-style service. It's a decline by degrees. Is Ms. Winn's new effort at consolidation more efficient from both a corporate and guest perspective? Perhaps, but it's those little things that make Wynn a truly transportive and luxurious experience. Without them, the place will quickly become just another hotel that's ostensibly resting on its previously gained laurels.

And honest to God, what's next? Bottled water is expensive these days. Are we going to see those complimentary in-room bottles removed, or even worse, monetized? Marilyn spoke about how Steve wants to improve the Lake of Dreams. Is that somehow going to become a ticketed attraction? Or--again--even worse, will access to either it or the show terraces somehow become an amenity included in your resort fee? All of these are little things that could quickly disappear and result in decided non-Wynn experience. It's a very slippery slope, ladies and gents, and it's one I'm quickly worried that Wynn and Encore are now sliding down.






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Comments & Discussion:

I am less concerned with her after hearing this interview to be honest. It seems like she is adjusting to the Wynn culture more than her adjusting the Wynn culture due to the fact that Steve is still involved.

Time will tell but I am not ready to throw in the towel on Wynncore, still has the best experience in all of Vegas.

Another note... I feel like they have other plans for their restaurants based on her comments. Like they may close/redo another restaurant to create a new top dog now that Alex is gone.

Reading between the lines scares me. She makes broad and mistaken generalization that America's tastes have veered away from gourmet dining. If anything, with the explosion of food-centric media, blogs and tv shows... chefs, fine dining, global cuisine and cooking techniques have become part and parcel of popular culture. She may very well be a great "organizer" but she is certainly not a visionary or content creator.

John Curtas chimes in here:
http://www.dieiscast.com/2011/03/03/marilyn-spiegel-interview/

I am more concerned after hearing her. She says all the right words, but they ring hollow; I don't believe she understands Steve's original vision for WLV/Encore. For that matter, does Steve? Her comments on Alex told me she doesn't have a clue. The end is near.

Oh dear lord, more VT whining (or is that Wynn-ing? or Winn-ing) about anticipated changes at Wynncore.

Just think, eventually guests at Wynncore may have to wipe their own a--es!!!

OH THE HORROR!!!!!!

Just change the name of the website to WynnWhining and be done, already.

Chuck,

You are certainly right about the food part. But I think that the trend away from the formal service aspect has been underway for some time. Of course, I still there there is a market for SOME of that. And clearly, Alex server that market well. Pity that a place like Wynn doesn't have it anymore. If any place on the strip should be a hold out in keeping a real, formal experience, it's Wynn.

@Detroit1051 - you think she should work for the Steve Wynn of 2005? Her boss is the Steve Wynn of 2011 and I think it's clear that he's changed somewhat in those six years.

John, I'm not sure I understand your complaint. You're upset that the phone operators may now offer to describe a restaurant because you like to call the concierge to handle that stuff? As far as I can tell, your options for planning your trip haven't diminished at all (did I miss something?) - just tell the reservationist you're all set and then call the concierge at your leisure... no? Or are you worried they're going to get rid of the concierge?

I read this post before I listened to the interview and based on that, I was expecting something far worse. To me she sounded smart and together... and yes, very focused on operations and operational outcomes but that's what I would expect from a person in her job.

As for her assertion that people's tastes have changed, I agree with others that there's no proof of that I can see. I've bemoaned the closing of Alex many times - I saw it as an amenity for guests worth far more than the sum of it's nightly covers and I agree that closing it is a loss for the property and a potential signal that things could get less interesting at Wynncore... but don't forget who made that call.

Was she hired to stand next to The Steve and plot the next great attraction or was she hired to make the trains run on time? If they really do have separate analysts and HR folks in each department then yeah, that sounds like a lot of waste to me.

If closing Alex really was the wrong move, then the boss should have stopped it. If Steve doesn't know his customers than maybe no one does. She persuaded him that it was the right move so either she has information that we don't or he made the wrong call.

If you want someone to blame when it comes to a lack of capital-V-ision, it's easy to find the person to complain about - his name is on the building.

@RateVegas- I wouldn't call it a complaint so much as it's an observation and a bit of a hypothetical.  Do I think they'll elminate that position?  Of course not.  They'd probably lose their multi-star accolades faster than you could make Steve's head spin. The point is simply that there are small, sometimes unnoticeable benefits that come along with spending what all of us spend in order to stay at a resort of this caliber, and the very thought that those small benefits could be taken away opens up the opportunity that more noticeable benefits could also fall prey to efficency or this fallacy that tastes have changed.  

As I said in the piece, it's a slippery slope and that hypothetical was kind of, sort of designed to illuminate that.  

Based on her statements, I got the impression from the podcast that Winn understands they are selling luxury and service - they're selling experiences. Is there reason to believe that service levels will be impacted based on something she's said or done?

Maybe I'm giving her too much benefit of the doubt but after hearing her talk about her job, I feel better about her role than I did when we learned that she was in charge of the de-Alexing (which I continue to think is a mistake).

Time will tell. For my own sake as a guest, I hope you're wrong.

@RateVegas, page 5 of this link is appropriate to why I think Alex should have stayed open.
http://www.hourdetroit.com/Hour-Detroit/March-2011/Restaurant-of-the-Year-2011-Iridescence/index.php?cparticle=5&siarticle=4#artanc
Yes, it's 2011, and perhaps my concern is more about Steve Wynn than it is about Marilyn Winn Spiegel. I don't want Steve to lose focus at WYNN like he did at Mirage Resorts.

I've been one of the loudest complainers about Alex closing... my point in my comment to you was that you seem upset about her but it feels misplaced. If there's been a change in strategy, it came from the top.

Eventually Steve Wynn will jump the shark. Maybe he already has.

wtf?

gourmet means quality, not foodie/trend/sophistication (real/fake)

foodies doing molecular cuisine has nothing to do with gourmet.

how have i missed this BS spin about people not liking quality food?

now are standards decreasing, yes. but education can be seem as improving.

moving on - "Fine-dining restaurants don’t exist in casinos to make money, he said, they exist to make sure that someone about to deposit $7 million stays in your place, and also to thank those who do so." = quote detroit1051 is referencing

HH- For both of our sakes as guests, I also hope I'm wrong.

at a luxury hotel (wynncore tower not well regarded, FS/MO mixed reviews) the operator/front desk/etc should be a single point of contact for guest requests. just requests. not necessarily detailed information.

a concierge should have knowledge and connections, providing the guest with detailed information and access they might not normally have. (because the hotel has a reputation, based on its guests.) the concierge should initiate contact with the guest before arrival, personally, not automatically via form email.

to clarify above - guest requests by PHONE (hence operator)

while there are clearly some things that may come up during checkin/checkout, the concierge should be the main face to face point of contact.

doormen should also be involved in communication and a level of guest service.

I prefer to be contacted via post. Embossed letterhead only, please.

@RateVegas, I am upset about her, but I'm not being fair. I'll give her a chance. Btw, excellent point about jumping the shark. I'll give him a chance, too (as if Steve cares what I think.)

@RateVegas, I am with you on this. There is nothing overt she has said that would lead us to believe she is there to diminish the focus on Luxury. In fact she stated multiple times she is there for the new experience and what a new experience Wynncore is compared to Harrahs properties. Maybe I am naive but she also put me at ease when she said she runs things by Steve on a regular basis and Steve still is present on the property and has ideas and communicates his vision, reading some of the comments here you would think Steve has packed up and could give two shits about Wynncore which I am holding on to hope that it is not the case.

Time will tell, I am going to be an optimist.

I usually smile at the furrowed brows of the Wynnaholics here, but in this case I think JohnH has a point. It's a thin line between service enhancement and revenue enhancement, and spinning the latter as the former really is like pissing on my feet and telling me it's a new mineral-electrolyte treatment from The Spa.

Kinda like the whole resort fee spin.

Now, if it's just a matter of "Can we help you with any show or dinner reservations today? No? Okay." then fine. No foul. But if it ends up feeling like 20 minutes with a telemarketer trying to upsell you to a six-month supply of Kaboom® ("If you reserve your show tickets with us today, we will give you a special 20% discount."), then yeah, that's a problem.

You know how these bean-counters operate. With any revenue-boosting initiative, performance targets will be established and reservation clerks will be expected to meet them. Their compensation will be tied to it, via incentive bonuses and annual review raises. If they end up pushing add-ons the way Rehab waitresses push $500 bottles of booze, then all the slick training in the world won't wash away the slimy feeling that you're being sold. That's no way to begin your "experience."

Drake just nailed it. The increase of the hustle in Vegas is becoming unbearable.

Perhaps its just me, but when making reservations on the phone in the past, the agent has always asked at the conclusion of booking the room if I wanted to make any dining, spa or show reservations. As I typically book 2-3 months in advance, I decline as I tend to do those things closer to my arrival date. When I do, sometimes I go through the concierge, sometime through the dining reservations desk, or directly with the venue (e.g., the spa). I didn't hear anything in her remarks to indicate the concierge is going away, and I seriously doubt this will have that big an impact on their take-home pay.

So, as Drake mentioned above, there is no harm in asking if you want help with dining reservations, etc., but if they start to aggressively push all of these things on the phone, then we have a problem. However, at this point, my main concern with Wynn/Encore is the proliferation of d-bags, especially at Encore. Listening to some Ed Hardy-wearing jerk yelling at his girlfriend outside of Switch, or watching as his buddy pukes in the flower beds is the bigger threat, in my opinion.

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