Peppermill, Atlantis join to lure larger conventions

Two former rival casinos joined forces with the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority to lure larger conventions to south Reno.

The Peppermill Resort Casino, Atlantis Casino Resort Spa and the RSCVA teamed up to form the Reno Resorts Convention and Meetings Co-Op to market the resources and amenities of both hotel-casino properties in conjunction with the Reno Sparks Convention Center. The three properties combined have more than 650,000 square feet of meeting space, and the two hotels offer more than 2,600 rooms.

The focus of the co-op's marketing efforts is to target exhibit-based conventions that require 800 to 2,100 room nights. Pat Flynn, executive director of hotel and sales for the Peppermill, says talks between the two hotel properties began in February and resulted in a direct mail blast to meeting planners a few weeks ago.

"We were trying to look at how can we put our two resources together to target some of the larger groups we would not normally be able to handle ourselves," Flynn says.

The two hotel-casino properties have invested more than $500 million in expansion and improvement projects in the past few years, and jointly marketing the amenities of both resorts could prove attractive to meeting planners that once passed on Reno, Flynn says.

"Based on what both properties have done to upgrade their perception as resort facilities, we have a lot more to offer compared to some other destinations."

Because direct mailers and response cards typically take several weeks to get sorted through the postal service, it's still too early to gauge the success of the marketing effort.

But the co-op's efforts already have resulted in calls to the RSCVA from groups that are reconsidering Reno.

The RSCVA's convention sales team is handling leads generated by the campaign and referring them back to the two properties, who paid for the entire marketing campaign, says RSVCA President and Chief Executive Officer Ellen Oppenheim.

Kimberlee Tolkien, executive director of administration for the Atlantis, says booking conventions is a cinch once meeting planners see Reno and the amenities of the two properties.

"We have award-winning dining, world-class spas, new rooms and new properties. This is where you should be having your meetings," Tolkien says. "It is all in an effort to promote the destination and let the meeting planners know we are here and we have great facilities, not to mention great values and a great place to meet."

In years past the two competing casino properties might not have formed a joint venture, but sagging hotel occupancy and declining gaming revenues throughout the region brought about the idea.

And branding the two properties together can benefit the rest of the market, Flynn says.

"You have got two of most successful properties in Reno working together, and that is going to carry a bigger message in the meeting industry. Compressing the market allows us to raise our rates, which allows the market to raise its rates, and hopefully it will bring in more tax dollars for the RSCVA to have more money to market the destination."

Adds Tolkien: "The convention center has not put one dime toward this endeavor. It was solely funded by ourselves and the Peppermill to try to make sure we are doing everything we can to get in touch with meeting planners.

"Our hope is to increase bookings at the convention center, as well as at our two properties, and increase overall revenues in town. The more rooms booked, the more tax goes to convention center and the RSCVA has more money to promote the destination."


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