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How MGM is Changing the Conference Game

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MGM Resorts BloombergIn the city of excess with bright lights and neon signs, it would be easy for a $9 billion company like MGM Resorts International to simply say, “It’s Vegas, baby!” Instead, they’re centered around a moral compass focusing on sustainability and philanthropy. They’ve not only made sustainability believable but profitable and attractive.

C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett takes a look into MGM Resorts International and their numerous properties, giving viewers valuable and actionable lessons in corporate responsibility.

When you think of Vegas you think of lights and casinos. As business executives and conference planners, we think of sales and marketing. In a city of some make-believe and amusements, how is MGM making sustainability and green efforts believable and sellable to their consumers, and why? Bill Hornbuckle, CMO of MGM Resorts, explains the era of themes and attractions is changing. A majority of the profits in Vegas are made from entertainment and conference and not in gambling. 70% of the Bellagio’s profits, for example, are directly from entertainment and Hornbuckle goes on to estimate that over half of their event business would not be where it is today had MGM not achieved their sustainability status. That’s 250-300 conferences.

Setting The Stakes High
MGM spent over $700 million dollars developing the Aria City Center that opened its doors in 2009. They marketed the center as a sustainable building and one of the largest in the country. Prior to the Aria, the RFP process for submitted proposals for corporate conferences was simply fielding logistics needs. In last 2 years, meeting planners have begun demanding to work with properties that have sustainable practices and are even choosing not to work with event centers that are not.

MGM Resorts BloombergGoing Green Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Looking Green
Looking at City Center – the nation’s largest LEED certified building – you would assume that no expense was spared. It’s hip, chic, and full of glitz and glam. What you wouldn’t know is that it uses 38% less electricity than its counterparts. When they’re used to seeing $350,000 electricity bills every day, every percent counts.

Helping the Environment is Helping the Bottom Line
Concerned about initial investments? MGM Resorts International made a $400,000 investment into one building that paid itself back in 15 months. They’re finding that for every $1 invested, there is a 350% return. That’s an ROI anyone can get behind.

They now view green initiatives as a profit center. Sustainability is the efficient use of scarce resources. It is a business about dollars and cents from MGM’s perspective, and they’ve created a lot of opportunity to be resourceful. For example, there is a market for re-useable products. Before they had filling trash with cardboard, linens, glass and silverware and other materials of value they now pick through, salvage and sell. It’s certainly a dirty business but it’s money. MGM Resorts saved over $750,000 alone the first year of implementing a recyclable trash program. MGM measures success with sustainable efforts by water and electricity saved, money saved on maintenance, and other expenses. They also profit on the revenue side through the increase in business on the event side.

C-Suite Needs to Take a Real Stance
It’s one thing to say you’re a green company, but it’s another to actually be one. MGM CEO Jim Murren draws a line in the sand when he said, “As long as I’m here, we won’t build anywhere without sustainability as the cornerstone.” That’s a big statement to make, but one that’s paying off for MGM. Based on their efforts, they’ve seen $6 million in annual energy savings – and that’s just the start. MGM is not only cornering the event market by marketing their green initiatives, they are setting industry standards and discovering that going green is very profitable.

Hayzlett’s in-depth review of MGM Resorts International showcases the goodwill and profitability that corporate responsibility, sustainability and philanthropy can have on the bottom line. For more information on MGM Resorts International, watch the episode and visit their website.

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JWH_thumbJeffrey Hayzlett is a global business celebrity and speaker, bestselling author, Contributing Editor and Host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett on Bloomberg Television. He is the CEO of The Hayzlett Group, an international strategic business consulting company focused on leading change and developing high growth companies. Connect with Hayzlett on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn or email.

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