Travel Fanboy

The Struggles of Downtown “Grand”

Downtown Grand’s troubles are well documented. Since the reopening, the former Lady Luck property has been tweaking its operations on what seems like a daily basis. Player’s club stations have been moved and removed and moved again. Table game minimums have been lowered, then gaming happy hour specials were offered, and now gaming hours have now been cut and tables moved to a secluded room. Bars have shuttered or never opened. What’s the deal with that empty slush bar at the entrance? Was it ever open?

Either way, these are operational changes and only impact the short term. The problem for DTG is that their strategy needs an overhaul. Their plan needs a new frame. These operational tweaks, up to this point, lacked direction. Beyond cutting costs, they didn’t fulfill any other purpose. They don’t support a larger mission. The problems should have been recognized at the outset.

DTG failed to carve out a unique selling proposition. Forgive the trite marketing term, but it’s useful. You can argue, and DTG has certainly tried, that it acts as another “upscale” property in the downtown landscape. Golden Nugget has long reigned supreme in that regard. DTG was meant to challenge that. The goal for a new entry in a market is to do something really well, something that will draw people away from the established competition. The problem for DTG is that not only does it not doing anything great, but it’s not even as good as its competitors in the important categories..

To be fair, the rooms at DTG are quite nice. But you can find plenty of nice rooms at $100 or less Downtown, even at Golden Nugget on occasion. Perhaps this lack of “goodness” is no more better exemplified than with gambling. Think of any game you’d like to play and you’ll find a better place to do it within walking distance. It’s not hard to find 3:2 BJ downtown. $3 craps can be had at the Fremont. Cheap roulette is always offered at El Cortez. VP gets no better than at Main Street Station. And there’s no matching the atmospheres of The D or Golden Gate.

Even though Pizza Rock is a big favorite for many, it alone isn’t enough to make DTG a “foodie” mainstay downtown. Triple George gets consistently good reviews, but it’s just another good steakhouse. Hog’s and Heifers is a poor man’s Coyote Ugly. Not that it can’t be fun or the drinks are bad, but the place isn’t necessarily better than any other bar in the area.

Perhaps DTG’s big advantage is that it’s rarely busy. Though, that isn’t intentional nor welcome from an executive standpoint. Many thought their original plan would be to cater to locals. They clearly had little thought of doing so. They can still do this; it would make a lot of sense. It would require a strategic overhaul, but would be a good long-term play.

Downtown Grand Pool Deck
Downtown Grand Pool Deck

Despite what seems like a lack of a clear direction, they continue to adjust operations. The sportsbook will soon see an expansion and they’ll be promoting some lively NFL gameday activities. Those should be fun, but likely not enough. They also need to maximize another asset, their pool complex. It’s simple and open. It can be used for a number of different activities. They can show movies, have barbeque smoked food, or host concerts. Any combination of those would simply help people know the place exists. Again, even with this, a new strategic direction is needed for these operational changes to matter.

Too many companies, especially new ones, simply do everything the same, but nothing better. There is room for a lot of competition and many firms can remain profitable, but you have to carve out a space for yourself. Simply put, being good at everything doesn’t make a business successful. Being great at one thing typically does. It’s time for DTG to do something great.


Host of the Vegas Fanboy podcast. A reluctant Millennial. An amateur human.