I’m dedicating this column to those service heroes who every day give of themselves in ways we often never see.



I’ve written numerous columns over the last 20 years, usually about casino marketing issues and ideas. But regular readers know that over those decades I have voiced opinions on just about everything to do with the gaming business.

I am often critical of our wonderful industry, hopefully not in a hostile way, but in a way that forces us to consider the crazy or counterproductive stuff we tend not to question.

If I have been remiss about anything over those years and hundreds of columns, it has probably been in highlighting the efforts of the true stars in the casino business-those service heroes who every day give of themselves in ways we often never see. Those “10 on a 10 scale” employees who, for whatever the reason, just care about creating a memorable experience that touches our casino customers’ lives.

Over my 38 years in this industry, I have seen, or been a personal recipient of, hundreds, no, make that thousands, of above-and-beyond “guest touches” from casino employees for whom every day is Make A Difference Day.

I’m sorry I can’t thank (or even remember) all of you personally. So please accept my personal thanks to just a few of you as representative of my appreciation of all of you.

So, to Tracee Staley, hotel desk clerk (or whatever job you’ve been promoted into) at Little Creek Casino Resort, thank you for the note you slid under my hotel room door after a service snag during my visit years ago. “Dear Mr. Conrad: My deepest apology for my error. Please enjoy the rest of your stay.” So simple. So elegant. So full of personal ownership.

To Peter Fordham, thank you for opening your casino’s gourmet restaurant just for me so many years ago. Thank you for having your management team members there as well, and sending the message that our meetings with them the next day on customer service were critically important. Thank you for letting the chef show off that night and for making a new, still unsure of himself consultant, feel experienced and valued.

To the drink server/waitress at Stack at The Mirage in Las Vegas (and I’m so sorry that I never did get your name), thank you for digging in the trash at your station to retrieve my pair of fold-up, miniature reading glasses that I had left behind. Yes, the ratty case containing them did look like a used-up, old, cheap lighter-I understand why they got thrown out. But I’ll never understand why a beautiful and classy woman in a stunning uniform would stick her arm elbow deep in garbage to retrieve a cheap pair of reading glasses for an absentminded customer. But come to think of it, I do understand. You care, more than I ever could.

To Lee, at the Siena in Reno, thank you for being our favorite waiter in the entire world. I know we don’t see you often enough, but you always light up when we do. We feel like royalty. And I’ve never seen my wife hug any other waiter before in our 37 years of dining out together. Just you.

To Mike Boni, now at the Peppermill in Reno, thank you for being that dice supervisor so many years ago. You know, when that 30-minute hot roll was going on that would make most other dice supervisors sweat. When that novice dice player stuck her hand out and interfered with the shooter’s roll. When we all saw the result was a losing “7 out.” But when you jumped in and shouted “No Roll!” Yes, it was a $3,000 instantaneous decision on behalf of your players, but with $1 million worth of goodwill.

To Mike, the cage cashier at Tioga Downs in Nichols, N.Y., thank you for the supremely gentle way that you handled that lady with her mentally disabled son when they came to your window. Thank you for your kindness, your patience, and the interaction you had with the boy and his mom. I know you’d probably say it was just being human and nothing special. Know how special it was for me as I watched it.

To every security officer, dealer, bartender, server, accounting clerk, slot technician, guest room attendant, valet parker, administrative assistant, every casino-working service hero-thank you. Thank you for impacting my life all these years and the countless guests whose lives you touch every day.

You make me proud to be in this business. And we all can’t thank you enough.