Assistant Director of Sales Stacey Purcell Marks 30 Years at Caesars
Stacey Purcell’s career in hospitality started brewing in Maui, home of the beloved Kona coffee. When not cheerleading, she would accompany her father on his trips to Las Vegas. He’d love to gamble at The Riviera, where he’d go four or five times per year. “Las Vegas was kind of like Maui — there was a little valley and some mountain around it,” Purcell recalled. “The only difference was it was steaming hot.”
Flash forward 30 years and Las Vegas is home to Purcell, who now visits Hawaii. Her dad passed prior to the move, but she has found several father figures in what has amounted to a lifetime at Caesars Entertainment. After graduating from UNLV with a Bachelors in Hotel Administration in 1990, Purcell has risen the ranks from administrative assistant to assistant director of sales at Caesars, where she concentrates on small meetings.
Over three decades, she’s won numerous awards, including Caesars Entertainment’s “Emperor’s Club,” the highest distinction for top performance. Purcell is president of UNLV’s alumni association and president-elect for the Las Vegas Hospitality Foundation. Time and knowledge have transformed Purcell into a CHEERleader (she emphasizes the first half of the compound word), she said. Purcell is honored to lead younger people, particularly women, in college and in the hospitality industry, but she is the first to acknowledge that her passion is cheering others.
Said Chief Sales Officer Michael Massari: “Caesars Entertainment is fortunate to have her as our biggest cheerleader for 30 years. Her enthusiasm and love of the meetings industry is infectious and has made everyone she’s been around better.”
We talked to Purcell about what’s kept her at Caesars for 30 years and the lessons she has learned.
Let’s start with the obvious: Why stay at one company your whole career?
I have to go back to leadership. I was so fortunate to be introduced to Senior Vice President John Yaskin from day one on the job. John became a father figure and he was definitely my mentor. He taught us how to learn to make people feel comfortable and help solve their problems. There were many ups and downs and he just said to stay steady and not get too excited. When he died of colon cancer in 2005, I was broken, but I was not lost because of everything he taught me. That’s the sign of a great leader. It really has been my honor to meet this legendary, iconic hospitality royalty.
How is the industry doing when it comes to diversity and inclusion?
We started out with a lot of men and not so much diversity, and then we’ve evolved to have women leaders. It's great to see. I’m Hawaiian/Chinese/Puerto Rican, and I’ve always said that with all the men in the boardroom, I have always been different. I was really always okay with that because I always valued that I had something a little different to offer. Now there is really a lot of diversity and it’s refreshing to see the mix.
How will COVID affect small meetings?
We’ve been very attentive to that business because that's going to be the business that we feel will come back first. I think we're still going to do meetings and I think we're going to get busy again, but it's going to look a little bit different because of hybrid. People are going to “window shop,” as I call it. They’re going to check it out; they're going to see how they can do it; but nothing will ever replace face-to-face. Demand is out there and I’m confident it’s going to come back.
You’ve been through a lot in 30 years and Las Vegas always survives, doesn’t it?
We have risen to the test and been challenged, you’re right. We’ve always come together as one and unified as a big family. This is going to make us bigger and stronger. The one thing about this industry is we are so close and so supportive of each other. Forget all the brands. We are going to come together and it’s going to be really incredible.
What’s your advice to new hospitality workers?
Do your job and do it to your best every day. Don’t worry about pay. Don’t worry about your title. You should just go for it and naturally everyone around you will pick up on that. I would try your job for five years, because in the past, when I looked at all my friends jumping from hotel to hotel, the grass was never greener.