PHILADELPHIA, PA—Wynn Resorts executives recently shared the company’s business model behind earning more Forbes Five-Star ratings than any other independent hotel company in the world with more than 150 regional tourism and hospitality students and faculty during two events at Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM).
Students learned that anyone can build a beautiful building, but achieving a Five-Star rating and earning customer loyalty around the globe is only accomplished through hiring, training, and nurturing excellent employees.
“We were honored to host Wynn executives on campus to educate students on the company’s Five-Star service model,” said Elizabeth Barber, associate dean of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. “Wynn Resorts is an industry leader that defined service and luxury for the hospitality industry around the world. It was a unique educational experience for our students to gain insights behind the company’s employee selection, training, and hotel operations.”
On Oct. 2, Gamal Aziz, president and chief operating officer of Wynn Resorts Development, spoke about his career and experience with moderator Meryl Levitz, CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, during an Executive in Residence presentation for Temple University students, faculty and administrators.
“The day was a real success. It was reenergizing to meet the future leaders of the hospitality and tourism industry,” Aziz said. “It was an honor to share the conversation with Meryl Levitz, the region’s leading voice on tourism. The students clearly did their homework, as they were very engaged and asked some great questions, from managing New York City hotels, to today’s development and operation of future Wynn Resorts, including the Wynn Philadelphia proposal.”
When asked about the plans for the company to build a $926 million casino on the Philadelphia riverfront, Aziz told students that the company saw tremendous potential in the city and the abandoned shipyard where the integrated resort will be built.
“We’re looking at the Philadelphia of tomorrow, not the Philadelphia of today,” Aziz said. “When Steve Wynn bought land outside the Vegas strip it was unconventional. After opening it was a tremendous success and is an anchor for Las Vegas economic expansion along the strip. Our vision for Philadelphia is similar. There’s so much potential for realizing a revitalized vision for Delaware waterfront and creating a new destination that will bring new tourists from around the world to our city and jobs for all of you. If granted the license, Wynn Philadelphia will be that catalyst.”
On Thursday, three Wynn executives spoke during a Five-Star Service Forum presentation and Q&A on what “Five-Star Service” truly means before more than 100 students from Temple University, Burlington County Community College, Camden County Community College, Drexel University, East Stroudsburg University, Northampton Community Colleges and Widener University.
The Wynn Las Vegas and Encore panelists were Brian Gullbrants, executive vice president and general manager, Marilyn Spiegel, past president, and Michael Weaver, senior vice president of marketing strategy. They focused on the process for achieving Forbes Five-Star ratings, the most highly regarded quality designation in the industry, which less than one-tenth of one percent of hotels in the U.S. receive.
“You hear Five-Star and you may think we’re going to stand here and talk about marble, or how big your bathtub will be,” said Spiegel. “Think about all that as being the stage, and truly it is the people who are on the stage that are going to make all the difference. When guests enter, it’s the people that make them feel transformed.”
Gullbrants provided several anecdotes about the types of employees Wynn Las Vegas and Encore has and is seeking – the maid who helped a bride put on makeup for her wedding day, the cleaner who sought out a woman whose suitcase lost a wheel – all of whom share a passion and love for providing guests an unforgettable customer experience.
“Having employees act empathetic will only get a property Four Stars,” said Gullbrants. “To get Five Stars, you have to actually mean it. Our employees literally love coming to work every day. We don’t work for a hotel or a casino or a spa – we work for Steve Wynn. That’s the sense of pride and honor that every single employee feels and is what resonates with our guests.”
The students in attendance were excited to hear that, saying it showed that working hard and being passionate could truly equal success.
“I was blown away by the standard of service that the Wynn executives discussed,” said Lily Hoffman, a Temple undergraduate student. “I’ve seen the Wynn Las Vegas on the surface, but it gave me a whole different perspective to hear how it actually works and what factors into creating true five-star service.”
“A lot of companies focus on certain skills when looking for employees. Wynn focuses on something else – heart,” said Jenna Anderson, Temple undergraduate student. “I think that’s the most important thing to look for, because anyone can be trained. You could see this in the personality of the speakers—they were so excited and happy to be here. From a management point of view, they’re influencing their employees to be happy and excited to work at Wynn as well.”
“It was great to see “Five Star” conceptualized, and to actually hear it from the perspective of a five star company, rather than just learning about it in a classroom, said Marcus Sands, an undergraduate student at Northampton Community College. “It was a totally different experience for me as a student to hear it straight from the Wynn Las Vegas executives. I feel passionate about applying this higher level service that Wynn Resorts has achieved to my personal career path.”