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Indiana tourism needs to know the market and have vision, speakers say

Updated: June 10, 2013 2:03PM



HAMMOND — Knowing your market whether in Las Vegas or Northwest Indiana is key to ensuring continued success.

Rick Mazer, former Horseshoe Casino Hammond general manager and current regional president of Harrah’s, Flamingo, The Quad and Drai’s/Dansevoort project in Las Vegas, said staying in tune with you market is critical to remaining relevant to those you serve.

“When you look at the landscape, the landscape is changing dramatically,” Mazer said in addressing the annual Tourism Week luncheon hosted by the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority at the Indiana Welcome Center.

In Las Vegas and Northwest Indiana the expansion of river boat, land-based and Native American gaming options gives casino patrons more choices where to spend their gambling dollars.

Gaming revenues in Las Vegas have fallen and non-gaming revenues such as from food, alcohol and entertainment are up as younger, more educated and more social media savvy travelers visit the city. Knowing the type of person who is heading to a destination enables better marketing opportunities.

In Las Vegas that means the $500 million Drai’s/Danesvoort project, a compilation of retail, restaurant and activity businesses that do not include gambling in one location, Mazer said.

In Northwest Indiana that means taking the opportunity to better communicate what the Region has to offer to patrons visiting Northwest Indiana casinos.

Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the SSCVA told the more than 200 gathered it is also about vision. He said the region needs to take advantage of “cathedral thinking” – a long-term goal or vision one person may not be able to bring to fruition, but can pass the baton to the next generation and so on.

He said U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and the Marquette Plan and a prime example of cathedral thinking. While reclaiming the Lake Michigan lakefront may have been his initial vision in the Marquette Plan, it is a project that will continue on after he is gone.

Batistatos said in the 1970s no one visiting the city would have believed Indianapolis would one day play host to a Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four playoff, but they believed in constructing a stadium and what that could mean for the future.

“We need great gathering places as human beings. Our community can be a great gathering place. It just requires us to be cathedral thinkers,” he said.



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