|By Conor Shine, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 21, 2012--With traditional Hawaiian cuisine on its menu and a "hang-loose" island spirit permeating the property, the California Hotel and Casino long ago established itself as a destination for Hawaiian tourists visiting Las Vegas.
But finding new ways to cater to specific communities and bring in guests isn't a novel idea for Las Vegas casinos. In fact, it's a necessity.
With casinos offering the same basic products -- beds, food, entertainment and a place to gamble -- finding ways to differentiate a property is crucial, said Anthony Curtis, president of LasVegasAdvisor.com.
Casinos "are looking for ways to appeal to a group that maybe the guy down the street isn't doing," Curtis said. "Essentially, they have to differentiate, they have to pick areas to specialize in."
Whether it's adding menu items, arranging special events or providing diversity training for staff, casinos are always looking for new ways to reach out to niche audiences.
Here's a look at some of the different groups casinos are trying to court:
It's no secret Asian visitors to Las Vegas are a coveted audience for most casinos. But while many properties hire floor staff versed in several foreign languages or roll out the decorations for Chinese New Year, others like Palace Station make catering to Asian guests a year-round focus.
Unique offerings like the option to order tableside dim sum while gambling or the large number of tables offering less-mainstream games like no commission baccarat help distinguish Palace Station, said Vik Mahajan, the casino's vice president and general manager.
"We understand and respect the culture, and I think that gives us a very strong edge against the competition," Mahajan said.
Palace Station and other nearby casinos like Gold Coast and the Rio benefit from their proximity to China Town, Curtis said, and have responded in part by adding restaurants to appeal to Asian guests.
Tucked toward the bottom of the Luxor's website is a link marked "LGBT." One click and visitors are taken to a page designed specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender guests.
The Luxor has been marketing to the gay community for more than a decade through advertisements, special events and travel packages, said Brad Goldberg, vice president of marketing for the Luxor and the Excalibur.
"It's been an underserved segment in Las Vegas for many years, and we felt it was a market we could provide a positive experience for," Goldberg said.
In addition to its weekly Temptation Sundays pool party, the Luxor also schedules events throughout the year aimed at appealing to the LGBT crowd.
Around town, other casinos are finding ways to cater to gay tourists -- Paris has a special LGBT section of its website, Wynn and Encore feature a Pride Concierge dedicated to helping gay guests, and boutiques like Rumor have introduced pool parties and other amenities.
Before it was dubbed Las Vegas' "cowboy casino" by the new Travel Channel television series "Vegas Stripped," the South Point Casino had a long history of attracting tourists who are more likely to be wearing a pair of boots and a 10-gallon hat.
In addition to 1,200 stalls available for horses, South Point features a 4,600-seat, indoor equestrian center that hosts events throughout the year.
The casino is always a hot-spot each December when the National Finals Rodeo comes to town, but its event center is booked year-round with different horse shows, rodeos and breeder events.
With Las Vegas quickly becoming a top destination for 20-somethings looking to party a weekend away at the pool or at a nightclub, several casinos have long positioned themselves for the "hip, cool, pool crowd," Curtis said.
The Palms made a name for itself as the host of MTV's "Real World," and has capitalized on that notoriety with the addition of several popular nightclubs and some of the city's wildest parties at its day clubs. Both the Palms and the Hard Rock, another popular stop for the younger crowd, feature mid-sized concert venues that draw popular acts from a range of genres.
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