You can be a small fish in a small pond. A small fish in a big pond. A big fish in a small pond. A big fish in a big pond.
Many of Robert Levine’s colleagues in the Caesars Entertainment management development program chose to work in Las Vegas. They chose to be small fish in a huge pond. Levine did the opposite. He selected a small casino hotel where he was a small fish in a small pond. “It gave me the ability to transition through all departments,” he says. “This decision to go to a smaller property was one of the greatest decisions I have made in my career.”
Levine grew up in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He graduated from Michigan State with a degree from the School of Hospitality Business. He scratched considerations of being an accountant. “To build my toolbox, I attended the University of Iowa to earn my MBA with a focus on corporate finance,” he says.
After touring the back of the house at a Las Vegas casino, Levine was fascinated with the scale and complexity needed to be successful. “I knew that the casino industry was for me.”
Yet Darden Restaurants recruited Levine. But he missed the gaming industry. After more than a year with then-Penn National Gaming, he moved to Seminole Hard Rock. “I built their revenue management discipline, eventually growing my career to manage their contact center,” he says.
On peak days, the center reached as many as 22,000 daily contacts (reservation calls, PBX support, online reputation management, e-commerce, etc.).
In August 2021, with Covid-19 behind them, Levine launched his own company,
ComOps, which supports hospitality organizations, primarily casinos, with commercial strategy and operations (contact center, revenue management, customer experience, and digital innovation).
“We measure our success based on the positive outcomes of our clients and their guests,” Levine says. “As a team of casino executives, we work to build custom programs that are unique to our clients’ needs. We view ourselves as an extension of their operating team, and we are rewarded when we help them achieve their results. With over 40 clients since launching the company under 18 months ago, we have had zero customer churn, and on average, our clients have executed two to three additional projects.
“In five years, we want to continue to challenge ourselves to help our clients achieve their goals. We expect to grow rapidly, and as a result, focusing on scaling efficiently and sustainably is top of mind. Over our first 18 months of operation, we have learned a number of things to help strengthen our organization and leadership team. We remain focused on zero turnover for our team members and our clients, and we will challenge ourselves to keep this top of mind.”
In his years in the business, Levine regrets not spending more time with family. The hospitality industry requires long shifts with a nominal amount of time off. In hindsight, “I have learned the impact of taking time off can be beneficial for me and even make a larger impact for the organization,” he says. “It empowers your direct reports and creates a more sustainable operation.”