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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston
 

Orlando chuckles at Vegas' expense

6 June 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau has come up with an advertising slogan that is drawing chuckles at Las Vegas' expense.

The slogan on behalf of the family-friendly Florida vacation destination, appearing on a billboard near McCarran International Airport, reads, "What happens in Orlando, stays with you forever."

The Las Vegas tourism folks won't have much time to mount a counterattack or even discuss potential trademark infringement of its famed "What happens here, stays here" campaign. The short-lived billboard message was timed to coincide with the Travel Industry Association's five-day annual conference that brought travel agents, convention planners and tourism officials from across the nation to the Las Vegas Convention Center this week.

Though Orlando and Las Vegas compete fiercely for convention business, they cater to fairly distinct groups of tourists, with each location running ads that would be inappropriate and even laughable in the other. (Take the double and potentially negative meaning of "stays with you forever" when applied to a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas, for example.)

"We consider ourselves friendly competitors. We like to have fun with Vegas," Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesman Brian Martin said. Last year, Orlando advertised on mobile billboards at the association's conference in Chicago. Las Vegas will get its chance to return the favor when the show moves to Miami next year and Orlando the following year.

•••

A year ago, MGM Mirage formed a hospitality division to create a new source of revenue for the company: management deals to operate luxury nongaming resorts worldwide, much as Ritz Carlton and Marriott do.

The company has eight executives assigned to the division.

What most of them have in common is the equivalent of an Ivy League education in the hotel industry, leading such brands as Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Peninsula Group and Inter-Continental.

The latest appointments include Chief Financial Officer Jim Mrha, a 20-year veteran of Marriott International who most recently helped expand Marriott's reach in the Asia Pacific region, and Senior Vice President of Operations Ivan Goh, who worked for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts for 30 years and helped the company open most of its hotels around the world. Yet to be publicly announced is the position of lawyer Will Hay, senior vice president of Asia-Pacific Development. He has more than 20 years of experience financing and managing real estate projects, many of them with companies in Hong Kong, such as divisions of investment giants GE Capital and Colony Capital.

•••

There's a green poker table on the market — and we're not just talking felt but one that's environmentally friendly.

Green building materials and development practices are all the rage, even in smoke-filled casinos. Now casino bosses can make another contribution toward their hoped-for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certifications in the form of a poker table made from wood, formaldehyde-free paints and water-based adhesives.

Manufacturer EGM Green, which also makes "eco-friendly" blackjack, roulette and baccarat tables as well as chairs for tables and slots, introduced the table at the 39th annual World Series of Poker, which began last month and runs through early July at the Rio.

But all eyes are still on the chips — the table looks much like the others at the tournament.

Orlando chuckles at Vegas' expense is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.