Derrod McKinney

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Derrod McKinney - MPI Southern California

By Derrod McKinney | Jan 17, 2020

Las Vegas is uniquely equipped to meet a high demand for meetings and events while also properly preparing people to work in the industry. Being born and raised in Southern Nevada and the training I went through earlier in my life helped me get to where I’m at today.

I got my start in the hospitality industry with the Las Vegas Hilton. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the operations side. I worked my way up from the laundry department to the front desk. Within my first three years there, I went from entry level to assistant hotel manager in 1999.

My first experience with meetings and events came with my promotion to convention services manager at the Las Vegas Hilton. As much as I enjoyed the consumer-facing role, I prefer the wide-range of responsibilities that come with being part of a catering and services team.

In 2004, I made a career and life-altering change by jumping from the Las Vegas Hilton to Encore Productions, a Caesars Entertainment corporate partner. I met my wife during this time, and we married in 2013.

I have touched nearly every corner of the Caesars Entertainment empire since starting off as a convention services manager at Caesars Palace. With the exception of Planet Hollywood, I’ve worked in a convention services role at every Caesars Entertainment property in Las Vegas.

Between my 14 years of experience with the company and my most recent role as director of catering and convention services at Caesars Palace, I am both primed and excited for the opening of CAESARS FORUM. Only a certain percentage of the industry has been lucky enough to be a part of an opening team. What makes this one particularly special is the mix of talent and personalities that, I believe, will make the CAESARS FORUM launch successful.

The most important thing I’ve learned about the industry: Communication is key. There aren’t many obstacles that can’t be overcome if all parties involved are willing to communicate clearly and partner on solutions. That goes for co-workers and customers.

I’m very passionate about traveling and experiencing new places. It gives you greater perspective both personally and professionally. I’m also a HUGE sports fan, so traveling to a sporting event is a win-win.

My wife, Jocelyn, is in the industry, in the same capacity as I am, so there’s always healthy competition at home. My family is proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish so far, and I never want to limit myself and settle in any facet of my life. I think my mother gives out more of my business cards than I do.

Every person involved in the planning and execution of an event is vital to the overall success, so treat all the people you encounter with the kindness and empathy they deserve.

My final piece of advice to young professionals in the industry: be patient! What is meant for you will be yours. All you need to do is stay focused on becoming the best version of yourself and the rest will take care of itself in due time.



Derrod McKinney

Derrod McKinney (MPI Southern California Chapter) is director of catering and convention services for CAESARS FORUM.