Only a few months into Rob Cinelli’s new position as the General Manager at Sycuan Casino Resort, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the globe. In this interview, Rob discusses his new position at Sycuan, the ways he is bringing his Vegas expertise to the San Diego market and what it has been like running one of the biggest local entertainment destinations during a global health crisis.
GB: Coming from Vegas, how does Sycuan differ from casino properties there?
RC: Las Vegas is a great city with a lot to offer, but over the last few decades has become more reliant on the leisure and group meeting business, than the casino business. Due to markets like ours opening up across the country, they were forced to change their business model to a more entertainment-driven market, than a pure gaming market. At Sycuan, we offer plenty of entertainment options that I would put up against any of those in Vegas, but we are more casino-driven than Vegas. What I like most about this market, is that it is a “locals” market versus a tourist market. In Vegas, you may see your top customers twice a year but at Sycuan, we see our top customers three or four times a week. For me personally, I like that because customers become family.
GB: Can customers expect anything new at Sycuan under your leadership?
RC: I think what I bring to the table is an outside view with a different way of doing things. We will always be laser focused on the technical details that are mostly done behind the scenes, but under mine and the team’s leadership, we are going to provide the best customer service we can possibly provide. To me, customer service means making our guests feel special while they are here and always trying to find a way to get to a “yes.” I know it is a bit cheesy, but our new motto around here is “we take the ‘no’ out of casino.”
GB: How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
RC: We have implemented several changes on our property to keep our guests and team members safe including temperature checks, required masks, contact tracing, constant cleaning, physical distancing and more. For me, the biggest impact has been on our team and our guests. Our team comes to work every day having to worry about things they never had to worry about in the past. It is an added stress that is now layered on top of the everyday stresses of the job. With that said, I could not be more proud of our team and also how compliant and understanding our guests have been with our MANY safety measures.
GB: What does the “new normal” look like at Sycuan?
RC: Words that keep coming to mind for me when I think about the “new normal’ are resiliency, patience and communication. Our team is incredibly resilient and patient. They understand that we are forced to make difficult decisions, while being faced with a lot of unknowns. With that said, what I promise to our team and our guests is that we will always be open and honest with them, so that they can make the decisions that are best for them and their families. We are going to continue to work hard to keep our team members and guests safe. We will get to the other side of this together and when we do, I will have my hand out for a handshake and my arms open for a hug! That’s the Sycuan way!