I attended the 1 Credit Union Conference in Las Vegas last week. The venue struck me as an odd choice. I wondered what kind of first impression Vegas would give the visitors from 60 countries. This tweet from Shari Storm summed up my initial thoughts, "Listening to the regal women of Zimbabwe marvel at how little clothing the young women in Las Vegas wear." Was Las Vegas the best way to show off the western world?
Then it struck me: Vegas is the perfect example of the power of cooperation. Don't believe me? Let's run Vegas past the seven cooperative principles.
Principle #1: Inclusiveness
Everyone is welcome regardless of how much cash they are carrying. From the penny slots to $5,000 minimum bets, Vegas has something for everyone. It does not discriminate. Vegas will take money from anyone!
Principle #2: Voice
Vegas is a democratically run ecosystem, entirely controlled by consumers' wants and desires.
Principle #3: Benefit
Consumers directly participate in the financial success of Vegas by emptying their pockets on gambling, dining, entertainment and taxis. Surpluses are returned to consumers in the form of an occasional jackpot to make everyone believe it's possible to beat the odds!
Principle #4: Independence
As your plane descends, you are struck with how isolated (and illuminated) Las Vegas is.
Principle #5: Education
Financial literacy in Vegas? Heck yes. There are gambling hotline posters displayed in every casino. This service is free and available to all.
Principle #6: Cooperation
Cooperation among casinos is vital. If there was only one casino or one show in Vegas, it wouldn't work. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Principle #7: Community
Every visitor to Vegas shares a common bond and shares the famous motto, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!"
All joking aside, Vegas is a great example of people and organizations working together to make something much bigger than would be possible in isolation. All of the stakeholders in Vegas pool their money and market Vegas as a whole. There is real power in this co-op marketing model that credit unions could learn from.