USM students enjoy VIP treatment at Hard Rock Casino

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – For the first time, the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Biloxi brought together its senior executives for a unique educational opportunity. On Thursday, the casino hosted a field trip to give 50 USM students an inside look at how the property operates.

"By exposing them to the industry elites, the people they read about, they watch them on TV, but they don't have access to, it helps motivate them," said Evelyn Green, a USM Instructor in Tourism Management.

"They would share with them knowledge and expertise you cannot find in textbooks," she added. "It also helps dispel any misconceptions that they may have of this industry."

The students are enrolled in USM's Introduction to Casino Management class. Along with hearing from the casino's management team, the students got another rare opportunity. They toured the property, from the VIP section at Hard Rock Live to the fancy hotel suites.

"Mid-week, I think these go for $399 or $499 a night and on weekends $899," said one of the tour guides, as he showed them one of the nicer rooms.

They even had access to rooms that have never been seen before by the general public.

"You guys are going to kind of see a top secret kind of room coming up.  It's going to be cool," said Chris Kern.

One such room is called "The Attic." It's filled with mementos and messages to remember the employees who helped rebuild the casino after Katrina destroyed it.

Kern understands the importance of seeing what it takes to run a casino and learning from the experts. He graduated from the same program ten years ago. Kern is now the Vice-President of Marketing for the Hard Rock.

"Every time I say that I'm actually a graduate of the program, you can see their eyes twinkle a little bit. They're saying, "Oh, so I can actually make it," said Kern. "I wish I had this advice back then when I was in the program that these students are getting now. It's a little more insight into the program."

Insight and exposure that could help the students decide if they want to pursue a career in the casino industry.

After the tour, the students got first-hand knowledge about casino regulations in Mississippi. They had lunch with the Executive Director of the state Gaming Commission, Larry Gregory.

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