Prairie Band Casino & Resort
Prairie Band Casino & Resort has stayed successful for 15 years by focusing on what it does best, Assistant General Manager and Director of Marketing Stephen Ortiz says. “We try to stick to our core values, which are gaming, hotel [rooms] and golf,” he says.
Located in Mayetta, Kan., Prairie Band Casino features more than 1,000 slot machines, 29 table games, a 12,000-square-foot convention center, 297 hotel rooms, eight suites and a four-room lodge.
“Along with that, we have three restaurants, a gift shop and a golf course,” Ortiz adds.
The casino opened 16 years ago as a Harrah’s location. After nine-and-a-half years, it changed hands and now operates under the ownership of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. “[When we left] the auspice of a commercial gaming company, we had to build our own identity in the market,” Ortiz recalls.
To accomplish that, Prairie Band Casino brought in many design elements that reflected its new ownership. “[We let] them know we are a Native American gaming operation and … we are our own operation,” he says.
Today, Prairie Band Casino caters to a customer base that includes 21-year-olds and older. However, “Our sweet spot is really right in there with the 48- to 68-year age segments,” Ortiz says.
Because of its location in a rural area north of Topeka, Kan., Prairie Band Casino has to give customers luxury experiences that keep them coming back. Recently, Ortiz says, the casino remodeled its suites, spending $160,000 on each.
So far, he says, the company’s work has paid off as the rooms have hosted business travelers and others that work in the casino industry. “They’ve said they’re some of the finest rooms that they have ever seen,” Ortiz states.
Prairie Band Casino also invested $500,000 in its new Prairie Meadows Lodge, a luxury house that features four “suite”-level rooms, he says. The lodge also has a fully equipped kitchen, a 60-inch flat-screen TV, a fireplace and a screened in-porch. “The early demand for the Prairie Meadows Lodge [has been strong],” he adds.
Prairie Band Casino needs the right people to provide its guests with enjoyable experiences, Ortiz says. “Our people get to know you when you frequent this place,” he says. “We make them feel special every time they come back.”
The casino looks for people with positive attitudes and strong work histories when hiring. “It’s a Disneyland for adults,” he says. “So if you go to Disneyland and if you were to see Goofy and Mickey and they weren’t happy to see you, that’s not going to give you a wonderful trip.
“You need to have employees that are willing to be helpful,” he says. “Those are the things that we look for.”
Ready to Grow
Like many in the resort industry, Prairie Band Casino is coming off a particularly brutal winter.
“[We’ve had] several business impacts with people not being able to get here,” Ortiz says.
However, “We’re starting to get a break in the weather,” he says, noting that the casino will soon experience an influx of meeting and convention business that will fill up its rooms.
He adds that Prairie Band Casino wants to build on the success it built over the last 16 years. “[We’re] looking for opportunities to diversify our portfolio and move in the direction of having something for everybody,” Ortiz says.
This may include adding more sources of entertainment or adding onto its lodge. “We’re going to have to step up our game to make sure [we maintain customer loyalty],” he says.