More corporate planners are taking a second look at gaming destinations these days — but not for the gambling. This includes sectors that in the past have shied away from these destinations, such as pharmaceutical, financial services, and banking. The abundance and quality of meeting and conference space and low room rates, as well as hotels' willingness to work within corporate budgets, especially midweek, is luring them to Atlantic City and Vegas.
Burger King, for example, recently chose the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City as the site for its Northeast regional conference. “We had the meeting in Atlantic City because it was cheaper than having it in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, or Washington D.C., the only other cities that could accommodate a group of about 800,” says Michael Wallstein, CEO of Glen Rock, N.J.-based Harvey Management, a franchisee of Burger King.
The Tropicana keeps getting bigger. A $225 million expansion called The Quarter, set to be unveiled in spring, will add a 502-room tower, to bring The Tropicana's total number of guest rooms to 2,127. The expansion also includes 45,000 square feet of new meeting space, bringing total meeting space to 122,000 square feet.
Some new gaming properties are being purpose-built for meetings, such as the $1.1 billion Borgata, which opened in Atlantic City in July. Located in a separate wing, its 70,000 square feet of meeting space includes 20 meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 3,700 guests and a ballroom with 30,000 square feet of column-free space. Ten boardrooms feature ocean views and large plasma-screen TVs.
Mohegan Sun, another casino resort going after groups, is touting its 100,000 square feet of meeting space. Meetings are so important to Mohegan Sun that it used asked planners to sit on an advisory board during the planning stages of its expansion project.