Trudie Yau, Director of Player Development EMEA, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Interview by Peter White and Damien Connelly
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas stands out in a standout city. Its staff are great (CoStars, as they are known internally), its focus on the customer is noticeable, its Strip location is superb, and its food and beverage collection is incomparable. If you look at customer reviews online, you can see The Cosmopolitan is among the highest rated in Las Vegas. That speaks volumes of all the hard work that has been put in, and that has been devoted by the team at this property to ensure The Cosmopolitan is memorably successful. I know industry people who only stay at The Cosmopolitan when they visit Las Vegas… if industry people rate it so highly, it must be good. The resort opened December 2010, and then was purchased by Blackstone Group in 2014, with a foreseeable massive redevelopment goal ahead of them for the resort. It’s not only a redeveloped resort, but is shining brighter than ever in Sin City, as Trudie Yau helps explain:
Can you briefly summarise your career to just prior to your current role?
I started as a Croupier/Dealer back in 1982 in Launceston, Tasmania, which was my first taste of the gaming and hospitality industry. In 1997 I made the move to the UK, to which I started my 20 year career working with Grosvenor Casinos Luton with a fabulous team that continuously encouraged me. Moving into London in a Senior Manager Role opening the Hard Rock Casino, on to the Connoisseur, Gloucester Road, Park Tower and Barracuda. I was fortunate enough to move to VIP Acquisitions headed by Paul Mettam. I then had the opportunity to work for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas by Danny Ruiz establishing our London branch office with Paul at the helm.
How did you start your career in Player Development?
I don’t think there was ever a definitive start to it. I was always able to build excellent relationships with people, and that naturally lead me to this business. I pride myself on understanding the individual needs of our guests, so with that, this career was an instinctive direction for me to take, and wish I had done it earlier. Most of the customers I work with I have known for 20 years or more, and I still to this day can pick the phone up to them like it was yesterday.
Many readers are beginning their career in our casino industry. Some will be interested in advancement and may be considering moving into a Player Development role?
I would recommend gaining insight in operations, and finding a true understanding of the business, as it will directly help with player development and relationships. Additional helpful points include playing a little, to begin to feel and understand the game and the emotions associated with it. Networking and relationship building are key, as well as a vast learning of multiple languages.
What is your typical day/week? Basically, what does someone in Player Development do?
My week varies and is never the same, which is one of the things I love most about my job. I start the day with a series of communication, as I’m consistently keeping in touch with my players, many of whom are internationally based. Much of the time I am traveling from various markets to both establish new and maintain my existing relationships. Networking is key, and you can never make enough connections. I pride myself on my work ethic and being there for my guests and new opportunities whenever they may arise. If I have a player arriving at the resort, no matter what time of day, I am on the phone ensuring they land safely and are checked-in and the situation with their room stay. We have a tremendous team on the ground at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, however I always ensure that I am available should my guests have a need during their stay. This goes a long way with relationship building.
Can you explain to readers the recent promotion you hosted in London with a temporary Cosmopolitan Bar?
It was organised by the resort’s Brand Team and was geared toward travel groups and corporate businesses visiting The Cosmopolitan. We became involved to show our support with being an extension of our property with our London branch office as a part of the resort’s international marketing team. It was a fabulous event bringing a small bit of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to London.
What skills do you find help you perform your role as the Director of Player Development EMEA for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas?
I am fortunate to have a natural ability to build relations and talk with pretty much anyone. I listen, observe and try to be pro-active rather than reactive. I research my customers and their needs. Additionally, I have a strong gaming background that helps me relate to our guests during their journey playing with us.
What advice would you give someone looking to move into a Player Development role?
Truly get to know your customers. Also, the small things do matter. Understand it is always about the customer and their personal needs. Stay grounded. Be prepared to work hard and always, always be positive and sincere.
Outline the specifics of your role of Director of Player Development EMEA?
To source, maintain and develop player relations on behalf of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. I facilitate their booking at the resort from start to finish, and ensure every experience is an ideal one, to then hope for a trusted relationship that in turn results in repeat visits. I strive to be associated as someone who is the best in this field.
What aspects of your role do you find most satisfying?
Knowing that my guests have had the most amazing stay and that all their expectations have been exceeded. Making others happy and establishing relationships is a pure delight.
What are the key factors in your opinion that contribute most to The Cosmopolitan’s popularity with VIPs success in these competitive times?
The Cosmopolitan is a more modern take on a luxury brand, whilst at the same time offering an exclusive VIP experience. The resort is fresh and constantly evolving. The Cosmopolitan’s restaurant collection is outstanding with some of the most respected restaurant offerings in the entire city. The past few years have been devoted to a complete redevelopment of the resort, and with that, we always have something new and exciting to showcase to our guests.
What trends have you observed with VIP clientele over recent years?
The younger generation have a different attention span to the older. They do not tend to play as long and sit for hours upon hours, but would rather play for a bit, leave to experience something else, say have a dinner, explore the resort or city, and then return to gaming. It’s key to be a part of those varying needs and wants, with highlighting the resort and also building in tangible, experiential moments for guests in addition to the gaming element as well.
What is your view on gaming industry & innovation?
I think we will see big changes in the next decade as digital gaming becomes more high profile. I like the involvement of sports betting as well, as I think this is a market that we will see continue to grow.
If you are allowed to say, who was your most surprising guest or guests during 2018?
All my guests are surprising and interesting. One stands out a 72 year old man who hugged me when he left and said thank you for making me feel young and alive again. It was a wonderful experience.
What has been one of the highlights as Director of Player Development EMEA in recent years?
For me, there is a highlight every week. I am fortunate to work with amazing colleagues and guests, who bring so much to the table and that I’m learning something new from every day. It is a highlight to work with our esteemed guests and to receive the respect from these successful individuals. I know I have done my job right if they continue to visit the resort again and again.
How does the Resort Casino ensure that the highest levels of service are maintained for Cosmopolitan VIPs?
The attention to detail and our communication. Every department is key in ensuring that the guest has an exceptional stay.
What in your opinion are amongst the most impressive facilities for VIPs at the Cosmopolitan?
The Cosmopolitan has so many, that it is hard to narrow in on a select few. I love our restaurant offerings, as we are known as a destination hotspot among foodies. Additionally, our Butler team is outstanding with the immense attention to details that goes into each individual player’s stay. Additionally, our complete remodel of the resort’s more than 3,000 guest rooms this past year offers high design and residential functionality for our guests.
Could you provide an insight into the organisations approach to VIP Comps involving its Privilege and rewards program?
We have one of the best reward programmes in our Identity Membership & Rewards, and pride ourselves with being one of the most compelling in the Las Vegas market. Our specialized offerings and personalized promotional offers direct to players provide them with a distinct way of rewarding their dedication to our brand, and in turn have them returning for more ways to experience the resort.
Millennials are an important age range. How does the Cosmopolitan cater for this market?
The options are endless at The Cosmopolitan. We have Marquee Nightclub and Dayclub, the newly debuted Block 16 Urban Food Hall, innovative technology offerings in our resident chatbot, Rose, and so much more. The resort is constantly refreshing our offerings as a means to stay innovative in the market and relevant to our varied guests.
What would you say are amongst the many unique aspects that single out The Cosmopolitan from the rest?
The Cosmopolitan offers a decidedly different approach to hospitality, with the resort’s distinct style and approachable luxury.
What innovations at The Cosmopolitan in recent years have most impressed you and why?
The resort’s Restaurant Collection has continued to develop and flourish throughout the years, now with more than 27 unique-to-market concepts for guests to choose from. The Cosmopolitan’s 21 unique, exclusive Boulevard Penthouses continue to be a major draw among our high-end clientele, as there is nothing else like them in the market.
What advice would you give someone looking to move into a Player Development role?
Work hard, have good values and always maintain your integrity. Be flexible in your hours and also your opinions, and work hard. Listen A LOT – the more you listen, the more you will find you will learn. The most important factor – be kind.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas launched at a very difficult time for our industry. Everything I hear in our industry is very positive about The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. What’s it like working for this property?
Fresh, exciting, vibrant and full of energy! The core values of how the resort takes care of their employees, or CoStars, is the foundation for its popularity. The resort prides itself on employing veterans, which I think is truly commendable. For example in our resort onboarding program (induction in UK terms), a question is asked among the group of new-hires, “who has served for our country?” From there, the resort management team invites this group to stand and a round of applause and acknowledgement is given. It leaves a lump in your throat and makes you immensely proud to be working for a company with such high regard and appreciation for its employees.
Are you based in Las Vegas, in Europe, or you travel so much you could be based anywhere in the world?
I am based out of our London branch. My job is to source, secure and look after customers, so I need to be constantly mobile.
Looking beyond 2018, what do you see as amongst the main aims and ambitions for 2019?
My main focus in 2019 is to welcome new players to The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. On a personal note, I would like to be known as the ‘go-to’ person for Las Vegas in this industry and market.
Finally, when you are not at work – how do you relax?
I adore Netflix and sports (though watching them more these days than participating). I live in the country so I love the quiet life with close friends who are like family. I am lucky I get the best of both worlds.
Casino Life would like to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule for this interview