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Born Into It

Max Tappeiner, Executive Vice President, Operations, Wynn Resorts

Born Into It

For Max Tappeiner, hospitality wasn’t a career choice, it was a lifestyle. With parents who were hotel executives, Tappeiner explains that he and his brother were part of their parents’ careers. His father, he says, was the de facto general manager of the Four Seasons hotel in Munich, Germany.

“My brother and I grew up in the industry,” he says. “On New Year’s Eve, we’d be celebrating with the guests. In those days being a GM of a hotel meant you were the face and part of the fabric of the building.”

So it was natural that Tappeiner progressed in the business, enrolling in a hospitality college in Berlin.

“After I graduated, I got to experience stewarding breakfast, kitchen, housekeeping, and all the departments that make a building work. It allowed me to gain a real appreciation for what it takes to run a business.”

He joined Mandarin Oriental and worked for that company for 13 years, opening properties in London, New York and Washington, D.C. before coming to Las Vegas to open the property in the CityCenter complex. In 2015, he joined his first gaming company, Las Vegas Sands, which meant going from managing 400 rooms to the 7,100 at the Venetian/Palazzo.

“That was a huge leap,” he says. “And I’m very grateful for that opportunity because it got me into this world of gaming. It exposed me to a non-gaming environment, with 30-plus restaurants, multiple hotel towers, and massive capital projects.”

His transition from a traditional hotel to a gaming property wasn’t that difficult.

“It’s all simply the basic principles of business acumen,” he says. “Sound strategies apply in gaming as well as non-gaming. You have to make good decisions that are backed up by analysis and data. But you also cannot disregard the art form of hospitality. You can’t quantify every guest experience on a spreadsheet. You never lose your dedication to the guest experience and your commitment to excellence, but at the same time have enough data to back up every decision to make sure that they’re financially sound.”

He was then hired by Resorts World Las Vegas, which opened in the middle of the pandemic. Tappeiner says that was a very difficult period in his career.

“Throughout the pandemic there was a lot of uncertainty—what was business going to look like after the pandemic? So we did our very best, but it was a very, very trying time to open a resort.”

When his contract was up, Tappeiner took a year off to travel the world with his teenage son, something he says created an incredible bond between them, and revived his interest in hospitality. He got a call from Wynn Resorts to consult on the Las Vegas properties, and was offered a contract that started at the beginning of 2023. He says he was struck by the passion and competence of all the executives and employees at Wynn and Encore.

“I’ve worked for some of the best hotels in the world, and what I see here I’ve witnessed in very few hotels worldwide. The entrepreneurial spirit is unbelievably strong, and right now, we’re drawing on that passion. We’re allowing the decision makers to be very close to the guest. Instead of being technocrats, we’re allowing our general managers and our directors to make the best decisions in the interest of the guest.”

Just recently, the Wynn properties in Las Vegas were some of the most successful in town when the Formula One race came to town, passing right next to the property. While preparations for the race irked many locals with traffic being disrupted around the Strip, Tappeiner says the results were worth it.

“Formula One in the future for this destination is going to be massive. For the very first time, we have a global sporting event hosted in Las Vegas with the most dramatic backdrop you can possibly imagine as an evening event on Las Vegas Boulevard.”

And for Wynn it’s a perfect fit.

“Formula One is a luxury sport,” he explains. “We are a luxury brand, and we were able to capitalize on some of those activities. We hosted the Sotheby’s auction. We had House of Rob here on property. We hosted the Netflix Cup, which was the first collaboration ever between Netflix, Formula One and the PGA. We were able to bring in a lot of events that complemented the F1 racing and provided activities during the day. So we were able to activate and really bring in the right partners to provide an experience that really complemented the F1 attendee.”

Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business, the industry's leading gaming trade publication, and all its related publications. Prior to joining Global Gaming Business, Gros was president of Inlet Communications, an independent consulting firm. He was vice president of Casino Journal Publishing Group from 1984-2000, and held virtually every editorial title during his tenure. Gros was editor of Casino Journal, the National Gaming Summary and the Atlantic City Insider, and was the founding editor of Casino Player magazine. He was a co-founder of the American Gaming Summit and the Southern Gaming Summit conferences and trade shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, How to Win at Casino Gambling (Carlton Books, 1995), now in its fourth edition. Gros was named "Businessman of the Year" for 1998 by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Gaming Association in 2012.

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