Wynn Las Vegas took its star employees on a luxe cruise and hired a personal shopper to dress them and limos to whiz them to the airport. Why? To give the the same first-class treatment they give Wynn guests.

By Bob Andelman
December 2007

Casino magnate Steve Wynn is known in Las Vegas for a lot of things, but thinking small is definitely not one of them.

Wynn was at a February 2006 auction in support of Keep Memory Alive, a Las Vegas-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the fight against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS, and memory disorders, when the opportunity to bid on an exclusive, five-night Caribbean cruise aboard the 110-passenger super-yacht Sea Dream materialized.

Figuring it would make an irresistible reward for the highest of high rollers at his newest casino, Wynn Las Vegas, Wynn bid a whopping $750,000 and scooped it up.

But how he would ultimately use the trip was turned inside out when his wife, Elaine, and some friends took a cruise on the Sea Dream in December 2006.

“They decided that this was so incredible and such an amazing experience that the only thing that rivaled that type of experience is the service that our employees give our guests on a daily basis,” says Dawn Hume, executive director of special events at 2-year-old Wynn Las Vegas. “So they wanted the stars of our company — we call them our Stars of the Month — to be treated the way they treat guests every day. And they thought, ‘What better way to do it?’”

A gala dinner — which most Las Vegas casinos do to honor their top employees — no longer seemed special enough. What if, the Wynns thought, we use the trip to reward them instead? And so, the “Sea Dream Yacht Club” incentive trip, held April 1-7, was rolled out a month after Elaine returned.

Figuring it wouldn’t be much fun for the 12 stars to go alone, it was decided they could invite a guest along. But that wasn’t the end of Wynn’s largesse: Realizing that some employees couldn’t afford the appropriate wardrobe and accoutrements for such a luxurious journey, he set up a clothes shopping budget for each winner and arranged for a personal shopper to guide them through the process.

Even better, the winners — who included a villa butler, a guest room attendant, a retail sales associate, an assistant to a vice president, a performer in the La Rev show, an engineer, and a casino dealer — only knew that they had been named a “Star of the Month” and thought they would be rewarded with a traditional banquet.

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