PGP: Aria Limits Comp Booze Offerings To Well Brands
Aria is a nice property. Joint owners MGM Resorts International and Infinity World spent close to $10 billion dollars building it and probably another billion bucks bandaging birthing boo-boos. Lots of folks who initially hated the place now like it. Despite numerous flaws - biffed parcel layout, the fucked up mall, bad apartment building idea and dumb marketing - I gave Aria high marks at opening.
With stunning architecture, modern, casual elegance, good gamble, and some of the best restaurants in town, Aria was one of the best value propositions on The Strip. The property has won coveted Editors Choice Best Vaue Trippies award in 2013 and 2015.
Now, thanks to MGM Resorts International's Profit Growth Plan - an internal company program aimed to increase company profits by cutting costs, optimizing services and implementing hidden fees - Aria's value shine is being tarnished by a bean counter's greasy fingerprints.
Are you a casino player? Do you like to call your booze when the wait staff arrives to take your drink orders? If so, you can take your business elsewhere. Instead of Maker's Mark bourbon Aria gladly served, table game players have now been Profit Growth Planned into Jim Beam. Instead of Hendrick's, you be getting Seagrams. Instead of Grey Goose, you're getting Smirnoff. If you want the (slightly better) stuff, the casino waitress isn't going to bring it to you... whether you ante $5 or $50.
I'll hazard a guess that Aria isn't the only MGM property to sever the nuts off of booze comps. For those who remarked in previous Profit Growth Plan post about weekend 'surge pricing' at Bellagio's bars "they'll never get rid of free drinks" - the road to your hell now has an on ramp.
MGM CEO Jim Murren is, at his core, a numbers guy. He's not an artist, a reveler or lover of Vegas fun on any level. None of this is a surprise.
What I do find surprising is this concerted effort to eliminate gambling as a worthwhile activity. Instead of making games of chance more enticing to potential players - "we offer artisan booze to table game players" - MGM properties are quietly punishing the few table game players they have left, specifically those with tastebuds that yearn for good booze and, by extension, a finely crafted $64 veal parm.
It only took one comment by Sheldon Adelson to send players scurrying for the exits at The Venetian/Palazzo. Not only has MGM slashed their M Life program benefits, they've paired these cut benefits with with variable pricing models, a reduction in quality and addition of new "hidden" fees.
How many times will tourists shrug off yet another new fee/decreased service/cut benefit before casting aside MGM brand loyalty or - gasp - giving up on Las Vegas altogether?
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