Wynn’s management philosophy
By Kim Jae-kyoung
MACAU _ When you enter Wynn resort here in Macau, the first Las Vegas-style integrated resort in Asia, it does not take long to feel an aura of coziness and comfort. It is not because of crystal chandeliers or a jellyfish aquarium that first welcome guests at the lobby but because of people working there.
People at the resort know how to treat customers. What makes visitors feel cozy and comfortable is how they look. People there, from receptionists and cleaners to media people and CEO Steve Wynn, they all smile and look happy all the time.
This may be the outcome of Wynn Resorts founder Wynn’s efforts to instill his philosophy into his people. The management philosophy for Wynn is simple _ making their people happy. Wynn said that boosting morale of the crew is essential to ensure success in his business.
“I don’t care about crystal chandeliers or hand-woven fabrics. I care about how the place makes you feel. It is about people because only people can make people happy. And the key to the integrated resort is staffing, training and the happiness of the staff,” Wynn said.
“You have to remember that when the staff are happy, they make visitors happy. If they are worried, they won’t care about you. They will care about themselves. So the biggest thing in this business is morale of the crew or human resource dynamic.”
To elaborate on his belief on people-oriented management to this reporter, Wynn drew an analogy between the entertainment business and the newspaper business. He stresses that no matter which industry you are in, it is crucial to make your staff happy.
“The biggest thing in this business is morale of the crew. If you keep them happy, they will do their jobs neatly just like you will for the paper. If you are happy, you write it neatly, but if something happens to the newspaper, if your boss upsets you, or if you are worried about your job security, you do not write the story the way you will.”
“So whether it is a newspaper or an integrated resort, the issue is what frame of mind you are in. In order for that to happen you have to be in the right frame of the mind. Most of all I can be tough on the bosses but the bosses have to be easy on their staffs.”
In order to see whether the place has got the right spirit, Wynn looks at little things. He said that when he keeps his eyes on little things, they tip him off about the big thing.
“The only thing that matters is that visitors have a good time while they are here. So what really comes first is this staffing on a regular daily basis. That’s the main philosophy of the management. If you ask me what is important, the main thing is human resource management.”
Collector of artworks
Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn is known as a casino magnate but he is also a patron of the arts and a major art collector. Some of the paintings he has at his resorts both in Las Vegas and Macau are items you'd never expect to see outside a museum.
Visitors or customers can see many works by masters like Picasso throughout his resorts _ rooms, elevators, corridors and even public spaces like shopping centers. His art collection used to have a gallery, but is now hung throughout the resorts.
Wynn is considered a perfectionist. He cares about details. Distribution of art works around his resorts is a good example. He designs resorts, plans water shows and lays out buildings by himself, which means that every part of the resorts gets his touch. And seemingly, he uses those art works as the finishing stroke on his resorts.
“I always wanted to do one more, because when they are finished, I only see the mistakes. I say if I could do one more, maybe I could get it right. Each time they get better because we get more experience,” he said.
The following are excerpts from the interview.
Q: What is the biggest advantage of South Korea for an integrated resort?
A: The general economic vitality of the country is excellent. People around the world are interested in Seoul. It has the highest level of literacy of any developed nation in the world. Even when you are very critical about your own self consciousness of the educational system, the level of the literacy is the highest in your country. Much higher than the United States.
So the democracy, the rule of law in South Korea, the dynamism of Seoul and Incheon, are great. It’s just a great place whose the arc of development is perfect. it’s the place where people would go if they’ve got the reason to visit. So I think that if we had our brand in Korea we would be successful. That’s my belief on it.
A: If the government says that we won’ want people who are poor and don’t have a lot of money to go, that’s fine. The regulated casino can make sure that people with certain income can come. But you need to have customers in order to sustain the employment, and if you only have people who are from other countries, first you won’t be able to support the place. If you want to create a lot of jobs and career opportunities for Koreans, you have to allow Koreans to come to the place to eat, see the shows, and do other things.
Q: How can you regulate illegal gaming and minimize side effects?
A: Early in my career, I became a family with Doctor Robert Custer, a psychiatrist widely recognized as a pioneer in helping compulsive gamblers. He is the founder of the national pathological gaming foundation. He was the great expert of compulsive problems of gaming in America. He said that the problem of compulsive gambling or addictive gambling affects one or two percent of the population in America. And that addiction is the same as for drugs or alcohol. He added that people who have this genetic addiction tendency have it regardless of if the casino is legal or illegal. People with this addiction will find a way to satisfy it, so it doesn’t make any difference if the casino is legal or illegal. The advantage of regulation and the reason I’m in favor of legalized gambling is that first of all it creates more public awareness of the truth. The good thing about regulations is that it creates the opportunity through taxation and self awareness. When gaming gets regulated we get it out in the open. When they get addicted to gambling, they are very easy to spot. If we see gambling addicted person we stop giving them credit and we do all those things.
My father was a compulsive gambler, and I know how it affects a family, but now we have treatment centers. If a person is an alcoholic, they are alcoholic for life, and they can’t take any drink because it affects their body as if they were drinking the whole bottle. A person who does compulsive gambling cannot gamble. So the regulated gaming brings these subjects open, and creates an environment where people who have the problem get communicated solutions on how they can get treated. Most importantly, if you have legal casinos, illegal casinos go out of business. The regulated casinos make the unregulated casinos go away because they are so much better, they are more fun.
Q: Why is Wynn doing better than other resorts in Macau?
A: The people who work here and the training. We design to the highest level of good taste. We train and pay the staff at a high level, and we attract the wealthiest clientele. So in our restaurants, people will pay more because they want better food and they can afford more to gamble because they have money. We cater to the top-end brands, such as Louis Vuitton or Chanel. They are top-end products and have better margin. If you are Wal-Mart, you’ll have the lower margin. We are Louis Vuitton, Hermes, we are that group. Wherever I go, they go with me. Louis Vuitton, Prada, Christian Dior. If I go to Korea, those stores will go with me because people of those companies know that we are all friends.
Q: What is your ultimate goal of your life?
A: To protect the kind of experiences we created in our building, to make them better if we can, and every once in a while, about every three or four years, to build a new one. So we keep growing in a nice rate. Not to own the world, not to have all those casinos and hotels around the world. I want a few good ones. I just want to be the best operator in the world.
Business Focus intern Kwon Eun-young contributed to this article.