The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa recently brought on board General Manager Pete Wu, to oversee Marketing, Player Development, Slots, Security and Table Games Operations. Wu has over 20 years of progressive corporate, property-level management experience at Fortune 200 & 500, privately-held and startup gaming, entertainment and hospitality companies and was previously a senior management member developing Baha Mar Ltd. Casino in Nassau, Bahamas, which is scheduled to open later this year and spent six years as a senior executive in Macau.
We sat down with Wu to discuss his role and his vision for the future of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.
What inspired you to break into the casino industry?
The love of people and hospitality.
What has the transition from the Bahamas to FL been like for you?
It’s been easy. Florida has a similar climate, bigger city.
What do you like best about Seminole Hard Rock Tampa?
The people. I love casinos and have worked and visited casinos all over the world, but in all of my travels, I have never felt the mix of energy, fun, excitement and genuine hospitality that radiates from this place. I have received such a warm welcome from everyone and have been wowed by the great service that our team delivers to our guests day-in and day-out. The feeling on the casino floor is so intoxicating that I find it difficult to pull myself away.
What do you see changing in the future of Seminole Hard Rock Tampa?
I see us getting bigger and better. Adding amenities, raising levels of service, and becoming more upscale.
What changes do you foresee in gaming at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa?
I see us doing a lot of innovative things in terms of technology, new games, different layouts and configurations and improving the comfort level, which I think is really important.
Out of the seven restaurants on property, which one is your favorite and why?
Council Oak Steaks & Seafood is one of my favorites because I think the personalized Bone-In Cowboy Ribeye is such a great memory maker for our guests. My second favorite is our Employee Dining Room, the Billboard Café because it’s a great place to get a reading on how our team members are feeling each day, plus unlimited frozen yogurt!
What are some of your goals for Seminole Hard Rock Tampa?
Continuous improvement of customer service, record team member satisfaction, and constant innovation.
What is your all time favorite movie or song?
I loved the 80s and 90s New Wave & Brit Pop genre, then my tastes evolved to alternative and rap. Now I’m into hip hop and electronic dance music. I have three small children though so I listen to the Kidz Bop version of every Top 40 song.
My favorite artist right now is Pitbull. For movies, my favorite art house film is Cinema Paradiso, a foreign film. For comedy, my favorite is “So I Married an Axe Murderer” starring Mike Myers because it’s such a quotable and quirky movie.
Do you have a Smartphone? If so, what’s your favorite app?
Yes and my favorite apps are Flightboard & LinkedIn. Flightboard pulls up the arrival and departure screens of every airport so you can check the gates for flights all around the world.
Who do you count as your mentor(s)?
I have had so many mentors over the years. My father has always been a personal and professional mentor to me and taught me the value of hard work. My first mentor, Matthew Albert, gave me my first real-world internship opportunity and introduced me to the entertainment business. He’s not only a mentor to me, but a best friend too. I have to say that the most influential in my career was John Boushy, former CEO of Ameristar Casinos, who is also the former CIO at Caesars Entertainment. From a hotel and hospitality perspective: Nick Naples, for slots: Bruce Rowe, for Food & Beverage: Marty Miles – they all worked under John and they were great mentors to me as I participated in a management rotation under their direction.
What was your very first job?
My first real job was a paper boy for the Daily Record in Parsippany, NJ.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
If I could change one thing about myself: I’d like to be taller and in better shape. (He recently joined Lifetime Fitness).
What do you consider your greatest success?
My family and working all over the world.
Tell us something about you most people don’t know?
Something most people don’t know about me: I was the very first sales man for Victoria’s Secret in Menlo Park, NJ.
If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be? Dolores O’Riordan from the Cranberries, Gwen Stefani of No Doubt and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas.
What is in your fridge right now?
Diet Mountain Dew, Sugar Free Red Bull, and lots of my kids’ Go-Gurts.
If you could have a different career, other then what you’re doing now, what would it be?
I can’t imagine being in a different career, this career captures everything. Entertainment, hospitality, restaurants, luxury, resorts, travel… I’ve tried almost everything just in this career. This job is everything. I have my dream job, but other than this one… maybe a professional gambler.
Follow Pete Wu on Twitter!