Happy Belated Birthday Michael Jordan, We Got You This Post
» filed under Las Vegas tagged: truthyness michael jordan rio caesars harrahs total rewards comments: 12
Back in the spring of 2005, I had the pleasure of working a brief stint in the Total Rewards department at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino®. I say pleasure because it truly was; great job, great benefits and great coworkers. For reasons unrelated to the job or the company, my time there was too short.
Anyway, all new hires had to go through the same core week of customer service training which took place in a classroom deep in the bowels of Rio's back of house. Since Harrah's Entertainment (at that time, anyway) stressed their focus on customer service, most of the curriculum involved how to talk to customers, how to help them, make sure they were having a good time and "feeling lucky". We also spent an adequate amount of time on identifying problem gamblers too, in case you were curious. They took that topic seriously.
Then something interesting happened. I believe we were discussing the elite "Seven Star" membership tier in the Total Rewards program when a laminated sheet of paper got handed out and passed around for us to examine. On it, there were two lists of well-known athletes and celebrities. One list for famous guests who were known to tip well and treat employees with respect, and the other list for the opposite; guests who didn't tip well (or tip at all) and didn't treat employees with appreciation.
At the time it didn't occur to me, but now it seems kind of incredible that a company would distribute this information. I definitely remember thinking that it seemed like a very "Vegas" thing to do; where else is it more important to know the value of taking care of the people who take care of you? We didn't get our own copies of the list. We only had just enough time to glance at it before passing it on, then we got to hear some nice stories about the kind souls on the first list. Drew Carey buys blackjack dealer a house, Ben Affleck tipped a hundred thousand dollars once; you know, that kind of thing.
But when it came to the second list, we were told that we were under no obligation to do anything special for the people on it. And who should top that list but His Airness himself, basketball legend Michael Jordan. While we certainly weren't given the go ahead to treat any guest disrespectfully, it was made clear to us that this list of people were not welcomed at any Harrah's property with open arms and big smiles. Sure they could come spend their money, but if they wanted any special favors, forget it. MJ wants a cheeseburger from McDonald's delivered to the mansion at 3am? Tough shit. He can go get it himself.
The responsibility for how to handle these people was given over to us- if we didn't want to go out of our way for these people, we didn't have to. We owed them nothing, and since they were known to not tip or take care of staff appropriately, we weren't going to be forced to waste our time. You know, old school Vegas. They don't want to take care of the people taking care of them? Fuck 'em then.
I wish I could remember more of the names, but Michael Jordan is the only one that stuck. At the time, he was trying to get his own casino built in town and rumor had it this was because he wasn't welcomed anywhere else on The Strip. I know it sounds like Harrah's was inviting trouble by including this in our training, but to me, it sent a clear message. It made us feel like we were valued and no guest, no matter how much money they spent, were going to treat us with disrespect. And if they did, their names went on a list, and it was publicized (at least internally).
So happy fiftieth birthday, Mr. Jordan. I know millions of people the world over love you, but this is the only thing that I can think about when your name comes up. You treat people badly, especially service staff that can't defend themselves, and word gets out.
When I grow up, I don't want to be anything like Mike. You don't really want to, either.
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