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The Future Of Travel, With Patrick Nichols, Chief Strategy Officer at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, & Candice Georgiadice

Technology is going be more embedded in every travel experience. AI will enable more personalization, and mobile and voice will make basic tasks faster and less painful on the wallet and mind. Design moves to the forefront across all types of travel experiences. Digital experiences and physical experiences will be complementary and cohesive, and that starts […]


Technology is going be more embedded in every travel experience. AI will enable more personalization, and mobile and voice will make basic tasks faster and less painful on the wallet and mind.

Design moves to the forefront across all types of travel experiences. Digital experiences and physical experiences will be complementary and cohesive, and that starts with design.

Service and brand culture have a renaissance. Technology will replace some of the human element of travel and hospitality companies will find new ways to deliver great human-first service and create stories to tell and feelings worth returning to.

Wi-Fi will be free at every hotel and on every flight (at least I hope so)!


As part of my series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick Nichols. Patrick Nichols is the Chief Strategy Officer at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a luxury resort offering a decidedly different perspective in Las Vegas hospitality. Nichols joined The Cosmopolitan in 2010 as a member of the pre-opening team and has excelled in multiple roles at the resort including director of strategic planning, director of business planning, senior director of strategic planning and vice president of financial planning. Today, Nichols holds an imperative role leading development, construction, retail and entertainment operations, and financial planning and analysis for the company. Nichols is responsible for identifying business development opportunities and overseeing the construction process for new projects spanning multiple verticals from food and beverage concepts to hotel and gaming offerings. Nichols oversees retail operations in addition to the entertainment team, who are responsible for producing concerts, boxing matches and lifestyle events. Leading a team of CoStars, Nichols spearheads the financial planning and analysis initiatives for the company including long-term strategic planning, near-term capital analysis and deployment, forecasting for all major business lines in addition to reporting to the property’s Board of Directors. In 2008, Nichols moved to Las Vegas right after college when he began working at Las Vegas Sands Corporation as a financial analyst before being promoted to a financial planning and analysis manager. During his time at Las Vegas Sands, he was a member of the pre-opening teams for Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Pennsylvania and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore where he was responsible for implementing all financial planning tools and reports for the resort. Nichols was named an “Emerging Leader of Gaming” by The Innovation Group (2016) as well as one of Global Gaming Business Magazine’s “40 Under 40” (2016). He earned an undergraduate degree in hotel administration with a concentration in finance and information systems from Cornell University. He grew up in Minnesota and got his start in the hospitality business early, working for his parents’ hotels. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing, golfing, scuba diving and spending time with his two nieces.


Thank you so much for joining us Patrick! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My parents own and operate a few small limited service hotels in Minnesota and because of that I literally grew up working in the hospitality industry. I started doing the odd jobs at the hotels like cleaning up parking lots and cutting grass when I was just a kid. And during high school and college breaks I worked pretty much every position you could imagine — front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, IT, construction, finance; I learned it all.

My childhood hospitality experience led me to The Hotel School at Cornell University and from there to the casino industry. I had the opportunity to work on the opening teams of some of the world’s great resorts including Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

I’ve been with The Cosmopolitan for over eight years and have worked in a few different roles. I’m currently the resort’s Chief Strategy Officer and in my role I’m tasked with setting the strategies to improve our positioning, guest service, and financial results in the future.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Being able to physically leave a mark on Las Vegas has been the most interesting story for me. In 2018 we opened Block 16 Urban Food Hall at The Cosmopolitan. Block 16 was the first food hall concept in Las Vegas and is a collection of six of our favorite counter-service restaurants from around the country. As a team, we knew the type of food we were after, and from there spent months on the road eating our way across the country to find the best quick service food and drink in America. We put them all together in a great environment and our guests love it. It was a pivotal piece to the resort and a must-needed juxtaposition to our existing Restaurant Collection.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early in my career, I prepared a presentation for our Board of Directors that contained a financial analysis on restaurant performance. I was invited to present in the meeting, which was a big deal for me at the time. During my presentation, the Chairman pointed out that a couple of the numbers were wrong. I was caught off guard as I spent so much time checking and double checking the numbers and I was certain they were right. Discussion continued about a different topic while I sat there and reviewed the numbers. The numbers looked right so I interrupted the meeting with, “The numbers are right!” Conversation stopped, everyone looked at me, and, as expected it was super awkward. Turns out the numbers were wrong as our Chairman originally pointed out. Embarrassing!

Besides learning that you shouldn’t interrupt the Chairman, I learned that it’s ok to make mistakes. Own them, apologize, and make it right. That’s exactly what I did. I excused myself from the meeting, fixed the mistakes, reprinted the analysis and we continued like it never happened.

Can you share a personal story that defined the brand you work for? How did this experience make it stand out?

I vividly remember walking through The Cosmopolitan in early December 2010, a few days before the resort opened to the public. It was stunning and beautiful but there were no employees or guests. It was empty and eerie. I had this realization that no matter how good of a product you think you built, if your employees and guests don’t love it, it’s going to be “empty”.

Today, whenever we’re exploring new possibilities we always come back to the simple question: “who is our guest, what need does this serve, and why are we doing this?” If we can’t answer those simple questions we go back to the drawing board.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

First, if you’re looking to not only thrive but grow in your career, you need to replace yourself. I get a lot of weird looks when I tell my team that because the gut reaction is: he wants me to replace myself so he can eliminate my positon. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The fastest way to grow and earn that promotion is to already be doing the work that the role requires when it comes time for the promotion. This means passing on knowledge and developing your successors to take your job (scary, I know). If you replace yourself and your old work, that frees you up to take on new roles and responsibilities.

Second, find a few trusted advisors or mentors. A mentor will help a lot with “replacing yourself.” More than that, a mentor will help fill in the gaps, whether that’s how to deal with a tricky situation at work or providing the tribal industry knowledge that you can’t find in books.

Finally, I think everyone burns out at some point or another in his or her career. It’s important to recognize it and reset. The reset button is different for everyone — so do what you need to do to get back on track.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My dad is at the top of my list. From a very young age, he taught me the importance of hard work and integrity. I really believe that if you put in the time and put in the work you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. And that mindset has been with me since I’ve been a kid.

Of course, my mom balanced out the message and told me to “be nice” every time I left the house as a kid. So today, my motto is “work hard and be nice to people.” It’s very simple and it works!

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

We’ve spent the better part of the last four year extensively redeveloping and redefining The Cosmopolitan. We’ve renovated nearly close to 3,000 rooms, reprogrammed 17 bars and restaurants, and extensively improved the casino offering. We’ve improved guest service in all areas but one experiment, in particular, stands out. Her name is Rose.

Rose is a guest service chatbot that can handle any request. We affectionately know her as our resident mischief maker because of her unique, sassy personality. Guests communicate with Rose via text message so no app download is required. We’ve found that guests that use Rose are more satisfied with their experience and they spend more during their stay as a result of Rose’s recommendations.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

Rose is all about simplicity, she’s about simplifying the guest experience and making it easier for a guest to get what they want when they need it. Guests can always call our guest services team if they have a question or issue but these days many people prefer texting to voice and Rose provides another communication option.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

Rose was the first chatbot in the casino resort industry but now she’s not alone. I think the statistics we see around improved guest satisfaction and spend are likely a result of Rose’s unique personality and others in our industry will follow by developing more engaging personalities for their bots.

Can you share 4 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?

Technology is going be more embedded in every travel experience. AI will enable more personalization, and mobile and voice will make basic tasks faster and less painful on the wallet and mind.

Design moves to the forefront across all types of travel experiences. Digital experiences and physical experiences will be complementary and cohesive, and that starts with design.

Service and brand culture have a renaissance. Technology will replace some of the human element of travel and hospitality companies will find new ways to deliver great human-first service and create stories to tell and feelings worth returning to.

Wi-Fi will be free at every hotel and on every flight (at least I hope so)!

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

The perfect vacation starts with great people. The ideal scenario for me is traveling with a group smaller than eight, where you know about half the people in the group. That keeps the conversations fresh and interesting, and you can splinter off into smaller groups when everyone can’t unanimously decide what to do next. The perfect destination is anywhere I haven’t been before, preferably international. I generally do a little research before I take off but I’m not a planner — I avoid the stress of agendas and go with the flow.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Nevada is ranked at the bottom in Education amongst all the states. Improving education in Nevada is a priority for me because I see myself raising a family in this state and I’d like my kids to have a great public-school education like I had growing up in Minnesota. I support Junior Achievement, which works to develop financial literacy and work-readiness skills in K-12 schools. Junior Achievement has a program called JA in a Day that I find really rewarding. You spend a day in a classroom teaching students about financial concepts — entrepreneurship, budgeting, taxes, etc. — with materials and lesson plan scripted by Junior Achievement. JA is a nationwide organization and you should volunteer!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would take what I learned from my parents as a kid and start a movement around that: Work hard for what you believe in and be nice to people while doing it!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow me on Instagram: @pnichs

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