From an initiative aimed at testing the waters of social gaming to adding new promotions and amenities for its customers, Delaware North’s gaming business is continuing a decades-long tradition of reinventing itself to thrive and grow.
That was a theme of the recent 2015 Delaware North Gaming Management Conference at the company-owned-and-operated Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite.
The incredible setting of Yosemite National Park marked the second consecutive year that Delaware North’s gaming business showcased the company’s broad scope as a hospitality giant to its own management teams and numerous gaming vendors – who contributed a record number of sponsorships – in attendance. Last year’s conference was held at the Delaware North-operated Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Lou Jacobs, one of Delaware North’s chief executive officers, set the stage by noting his first job with the company was with the gaming business, which was struggling at the time as pari-mutuel wagering on racing was losing popularity.
“We were the largest pari-mutuel business in the United States, but our business model was flawed and by all accounts was doomed,” Jacobs said. “But we reinvented ourselves with card rooms, video lottery terminals, table games and hospitality to completely transform our business in the last 30 years to continue to be profitable.”
Brian Hansberry, president of Delaware North’s gaming business, reinforced the innovation theme.
“Companies that don’t change might not be around. We have to change to be successful,” Hansberry said.
Jacobs presented an overview of Delaware North’s vast scope of business and reinvestment toward future growth, and Chris Feeney, executive vice president and chief financial officer, discussed the company’s strong financial position.
Talent development was another key theme as Delaware North Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Abramson told gaming associates about the numerous career opportunities they have working for the company. Eileen Morgan, Delaware North’s vice president of human resources, joined a panel discussion on the company’s efforts to create new leaders.
Rajat Shah – executive vice president, general counsel, secretary and external affairs – joined Abramson and Feeney for a panel discussion and answered questions about various company initiatives.
Other presenters and panelists included Todd Merry, chief marketing officer, on the total listening marketing research initiative for gaming; Kevin Quinlivan, chief information officer, on maximizing the company’s new office and mobile technology; and Bill Bissett, a strategic advisor to Delaware North and a co-chairman of the company’s 100th anniversary celebration, on that initiative playing out this year. Jim Houser, president of Delaware North’s parks and resorts business, also attended the conference.
Hansberry’s gaming team covered plans for a new video lotter terminal venue on Long Island near New York City and the early success of Southland Park Gaming & Racing’s most recent expansion.
A highlight of the conference was a bus tour into Yosemite Valley and dinner at The Ahwahnee, the historic hotel operated by Delaware North. Tenaya’s hospitality and culinary staff handled similar receptions.
“We are proud to have you at our resort,” said Paul Ratchford, Tenaya’s general manager. “It’s a chance for us to show off to our Delaware North colleagues.”
Photo Caption: Attendees of Delaware North's 2015 gaming management conference, including associates and vendor representatives, pause for a photo outside The Ahwahnee in the shadow of Yosemite Falls. Thanks go to photographer Marta Czajkowska, Delaware North Public Relations Manager Lisa Cesaro and Ahwahnee General Manager Brett Archer and his staff.