Getting a chance to work with some of the titans of the industry has paid off for Jason Gastwirth.
After working as a management consultant for several years based in San Francisco, his cardiologist wife accepted a position in Arizona, causing Gastwirth to re-evaluate his own goals.
“I got a call from a recruiter telling me that the Venetian was looking for a head of entertainment,” he says. “I was intrigued. But while I had done some consulting for media clients, I didn’t have the traditional background for a job like this. They were looking for someone, however, who would bring a fresh perspective to this position, so I got it.”
With the Blue Man Group already signed and Phantom of the Opera about to launch, it was a turning point for the company.
“With the arena in Macau about to open and Singapore well on its way, there was a lot of growth in entertainment and no one was focused on it,” says Gastwirth.
Jersey Boys, the Venetian showroom with acts like David Spade, Joan Rivers and others, the Cirque show in Macau and the The Lion King in Singapore were just a few of the initiatives begun by Gastwirth (and ironically, with Wynn Resort’s Nehme Abouzied; see page 26).
Later, casino marketing was added to his portfolio.
“It gave me my first taste of the gaming side—the high-end players, the importance of the hosts, and how it all ties together with the entire offerings of the hotel,” he says.
Gastwirth was next recruited by the Palms to be the chief marketing officer, an offer he could not refuse.
“My boss at the Venetian, Rob Goldstein, said it was a great opportunity to learn that side of the business. And working for George Maloof allowed me to expand my role into advertising and PR, revenue management, hotel sales and more.”
A year later, Caesars Entertainment Chairman and CEO Gary Loveman hired Gastwirth as chief of staff, which he did for a year before being appointed to head up entertainment, where he is not only responsible for the Vegas entertainment spectaculars, but also regional entertainment.
“The Colosseum is now one of the storied entertainment venues in Las Vegas,” he says. “From Celine to Cher to Bette to Elton and others, it’s the place to play on the Strip. We also get to experiment with shows like Absinthe, which challenges the audience about what entertainment can be in Las Vegas. And we’re very excited to bring in Brittney Spears for a residency at Planet Hollywood. When you can get someone at the top of her game, it’s very exciting.”
Gastwirth says evaluating the entertainment and its impact on the properties is important.
“It all starts with the brand fit,” he says. “It has to be in line with what the specific property promises to deliver. We’ll do analysis on the demographics they typically attract and finally how the show performs financially.”
It’s only just started for Caesars, says Gastwirth, who hopes to direct entertainment and add new roles in the future when the time is right.
“Even with all the development we’ve done at Caesars, we’re really just at the beginning of the growth of this business,” he says. “We’re constantly reinventing entertainment, and now there’s a number of new properties that we’re looking forward to in Baltimore and hopefully in Boston. I’m fortunate to be here and really enjoy what I’m doing.”