Case Studies

Trevor Dunlap – FireKeepers Casino Hotel 

Providing Michigan casino guests with a Vegas-like experience  

In the middle of the buzzing casino world, where the clatter of slot machines, the bright lights and the sheer energy of the crowd come together to create an atmosphere of exhilarating anticipation, stands Trevor Dunlap, the facilities manager at FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan. His work, often behind the scenes, is fundamental in crafting the memorable experiences that keep guests coming back for more.  

Trevor Dunlap | Manager, Facilities | FireKeepers Casino Hotel 

Trevor Dunlap | Manager, Facilities | FireKeepers Casino Hotel

“We’re not just another gaming destination. We are a place where expectations are surpassed, and the guest experience is paramount,” Dunlap tells Blueprint magazine during an interview in May.  

FireKeepers Casino Hotel is located off Interstate 94, a short drive from downtown Battle Creek, and is owned by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi. The property boasts a Vegas-style casino with a 111,700-square-foot gaming floor, a resort-style hotel, six upscale dining options and a multipurpose event center. 

Giving the guests an upscale experience is no small challenge in a casino that has seen rapid growth and expansion since it opened in 2009, notably with the addition of its second tower to accommodate the overwhelming demand for rooms. 

Upscale and first-class 

Dunlap says that most guests staying overnight at FireKeepers are casino players who receive complimentary rooms because of the time and money they spend in the casino. But that doesn’t mean that the company doesn’t work hard to keep rooms clean, modern and updated as much as possible. 

Trevor Dunlap | Manager, Facilities | FireKeepers Casino Hotel 

Dunlap says doing that can be challenging because renovating a room requires that room to be taken offline and made unavailable for the period of time it takes to complete the work.  

“We would love to do this work more frequently, especially replacing carpets and interiors in our rooms,” he says. “But we need to keep as many rooms available as possible because of the demand.” 

The big draw at FireKeepers is the casino, and Dunlap says that changes on the casino floor happen constantly. Whether changing the felt on the blackjack and other gaming tables or refreshing chairs, something is always happening on the casino floor—but it is mostly little projects because there isn’t enough downtime to do larger work.  

“We’ve moved bars around and made them bigger, and we’re always moving slot machines around and bringing in new games for our guests,” Dunlap says. “Our bingo area moved, and we sometimes take down walls and make other strategic moves to add to the wow factor when people visit.” 

More than just gaming 

There are several other casinos within a few hours from FireKeepers. Still, the property in Michigan does a great job of attracting customers who must pass the competition to visit FireKeepers.  

Trevor Dunlap | Manager, Facilities | FireKeepers Casino Hotel 

“We have a joke where we say we’re the No. 1 casino in Indiana,” Dunlap says. “Many of our guests travel several hours and pass several other casinos just to play and stay with us.” 

To continue to attract guests from Michigan and surrounding states, FireKeepers must ensure visitors receive an upscale experience no matter where they are on the property. Dunlap says he spends time looking at other casinos and following industry trends, but ultimately, FireKeepers tries to one-up itself when providing high-class experiences for its guests.  

In addition to the casino, the FireKeepers sportsbook—Dacey’s Sportsbook & Tap House—is a popular spot on the property. Dunlap says keeping the TVs modern and providing high-speed Wi-Fi is an important part of maintaining the property’s high-quality feel. FireKeepers also has eight dining options for guests, including Nibi, its signature restaurant, a steakhouse, a noodle bar and a casino-floor adjacent café.  

“We look at the trends, but we want to set the trends. We’re trying to be like a casino resort you’d find in Las Vegas or Atlantic City,” Dunlap says.  

Rolling the dice 

Behind the strategic initiatives and facility upgrades is Dunlap’s personal journey from a childhood on a farm, which instilled in him a do-it-yourself mentality, to a leadership role in one of Michigan’s most dynamic entertainment venues.  

Trevor Dunlap | Manager, Facilities | FireKeepers Casino Hotel 

“I think I’ve always wanted a say, and I don’t like to be told what to do or that something can’t be done,” Dunlap shares, highlighting his independent spirit and problem-solving skills that have served him well in his current position. 

Dunlap has spent most of his career in facilities roles for Central Michigan University, Ohio University, and Marshall University via Centers LLC. Those experiences, coupled with his education, have ignited a passion for facilities management and the challenges faced by large, multifaceted facilities departments, leading to the start of his career at FireKeepers Casino Hotel in June 2019. 

His background gives him a unique perspective on leadership and guest experience.  

“But in management, you can positively impact people’s lives,” he reflects, acknowledging the broader implications of his work beyond the day-to-day operations. This mindset is evident in how he approaches his role, focusing on both the guest experience and the well-being of his team. 

As FireKeepers Casino Hotel continues to evolve, with Dunlap at the helm of facility upgrades and improvements, the focus remains steadfast on exceeding guest expectations. From small, strategic moves that bring a “bigger wow factor” to staying ahead of the curve on trends like sports betting, the goal is to provide a vibrant, upscale experience that keeps guests coming back. 

Through Dunlap’s strategic vision, FireKeepers Casino Hotel is not just an entertainment destination but a beacon of innovation in the casino industry.  

“The guest experience is always at the heart of every decision,” he says.  

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. V 2024 Edition here.

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