Sunday, April 24

Saying It Again - Innovate


Thanks to Rod Smith's April 24 column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, readers were treated to one of my favorite Steve Wynn stories.

In the column, Wynn recounts Wendell Atkins (a 1973 Waylon Jennings impersonator) meeting Jennings for the first time at the Golden Nugget. After Atkins offered up that he hoped Jennings did not mind being impersonated, Jennings said he considered it a compliment. Then he added ''... there's just one way to make it in this world in entertainment. The only chance you got is to be Wendell Atkins ... when you do Waylon Jennings, you're always going to be a song behind.''

The column ends with Wynn saying ''That's what Waylon Jennings told Wendell Atkins in 1973, and I'm saying it again now. What ... is the fun of being one song behind.''

His sentiments are similar to George Maloof Jr. in 2002. When I spoke with Maloof just days before the opening of The Palms, he did not want to say Las Vegas will continue to reinvent itself. Instead, it needs new ideas that lend to its diversity as a leader in gaming, dining, shopping, entertainment, and the arts. ''If anything, Las Vegas is a party place and will always be a party place. We (The Palms) will strive to be party central,'' Maloof said, referring to the hip, warm, and personalized service niche that was very unique to the city when he opened it.

His words were also echoed by Sheldon Adelson, who called me while on holiday to contribute his thoughts about the future of Las Vegas. After sharing why he thought The Venetian had recovered faster than other properties after 9/11, he added: ''our product is the best because I wanted to change the paradigm.''

Be yourself. New ideas. Change the paradigm. Different words that mean the same thing - if you want to succeed, innovate.

Sure, repackaging old ideas is as alive and well in Las Vegas as it is anywhere else in any industry. Every day we see some properties following the latest trends set by the few who are innovators.

I see it from time to time when prospective clients call and ask for us to create a brochure. Rather than asking them what size, I always ask why they need one. If the answer is because ''my competitors have one,'' then I know we may have our work cut out for us. There is a much higher learning curve for companies that attempt to follow their competition in communication. Yes, they may ultimately need a brochure or some other communication vehicle, but more often we discover they need something different first ... a message strategy that helps them innovate.

After all, as Steve Wynn says, ''What ... is the fun of being one song behind.''

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