Aladdin management team seeks input from industry

LAS VEGAS -- A management team from the Aladdin Hotel & Casino, which is expected to open on the site of the old Aladdin property in the spring of 2000, literally has taken its show on the road to solicit ideas and opinions on a wide range of topics from tour operators, meeting planners, corporate travel executives, travel agents and association executives.

Hotel president Jim McKennon and Debi Paige, vice president of leisure sales, head the group of property officials that have conducted focus groups in Las Vegas and New York.

By the end of February, the group also will have visited Washington, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"We have been doing this sort of research off and on since our design, and we have created some of the design components [based on outside input]," McKennon said.

For example, he said, the Aladdin will have its lobby and casino on different floors.

"Research indicated that many guests dislike having to pass through the casino in order to reach the elevators to guest floors or to reach the convention center," he said.

"We also learned it is important to have central elevator banks, so we will have two separate elevator banks."

According to McKennon, the sessions usually begin with an overview of the $1.3 billion Aladdin project, which, besides the 2,600-room Aladdin Hotel, will include the 500,000 square-foot Desert Passage retail and entertainment complex and the Aladdin Music Project, featuring a second hotel and casino and the renovated Aladdin Theater of Performing Arts.

Examples of topics already discussed at previous focus groups are given, McKennon said, and then the meeting is off and running. "We usually have very little trouble soliciting opinions from people," he said. "Every one of our sessions [so far] has run over time. People are so enthusiastic about helping us."

Topics of the discussions have ranged from how the Aladdin can market itself to specific groups to food service, he said. The ideas generated in these discussion groups in turn have had some impact on the design of the property.

For example, McKennon said, one topic that was raised dealt with "the irritation of how long it takes [to get] room service." To more easily facilitate the numerous requests for continental breakfast, the hotel installed two additional service elevators that will be stocked with coffee, juice and rolls, he said. He noted that the Aladdin will have 16 service elevators, while most properties that size have just 12. "Our goal is to have your coffee and danish delivered to you in 15 minutes," McKennon said.

Another issue that was discussed involves an easier way guests can track down faxes sent to them at the hotel. Aladdin officials are exploring technology that would centralize the fax process so the text of the message can be pulled up on the computer system anywhere a guest would go to retrieve his fax, such as the front desk, business center or concierge desk, he said.

The property also will feature a state-of-the-art cable system that will enable guests using the Internet on their laptop computers to transmit quickly over the phone lines, he said.

Phone jacks located above the desk also will enable guests to more easily plug in their computers, he added. "People tell us they choose hotels based on the ease with which they can access the Internet," McKennon said. "It seems prudent to use that information and to act on it.

"We'll also have desk lamps that you can actually read by. It's a lot of those types of issues that have been brought to light [by the focus sessions]." I hear this word so often -- it's overplayed -- but we really want to be user-friendly," he said.

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