Las Vegas resorts seek to capitalize on leisure traveler dynamics

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In the music video, the woman walking through a Las Vegas resort tells viewers “it’s time to go where normal has never been.”

Normal – at least in a pre-COVID-19 sense – would appear to be an attractive development as Las Vegas continues to rebound from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but that’s not what MGM Resorts International is trying to sell in a The ad campaign launched last month, about three weeks after all COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Clark County.

The “it’s about time campaign” is highlighted by the short video clip, which began airing on platforms such as Hulu, Roku, among others, on June 21.

According to Sarah Moore, MGM’s vice president of marketing, this is part of a larger ‘rallying cry’ to help bring tours back to a city that welcomed around 42 million tourists in 2019, but only about half from last year.

“We know it’s a good time to go back to what makes us inherently human – to come together and share experiences,” Moore said. “We’re back to 100% of our capacity now, so it’s an important time to celebrate. “

In some areas, Las Vegas is close to a return to activity levels seen before the pandemic.

In May, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 2.9 million people flocked to the city, a 12% month-over-month increase from April.

Also last month, around 3.5 million arriving and departing passengers passed through McCarran International Airport, a jump of 600,000 people from April.

However, both measures remain lower than the figures for the pre-pandemic month of May 2019.

While the Strip and downtown Las Vegas are busy places on weekends, slow returning food segments like the convention industry and international travel remain heavily affected by aftershocks from the pandemic.

According to statistics from LVCVA, the weekend hotel occupancy rate in Las Vegas in May was around 88%, not far from the 96% figure in May 2019.

But weekday occupancy is another story. Hotels in the Las Vegas Valley were only 63% full in May, up from 88% in the same month in 2019.

In large part, that’s because conventions haven’t fully returned to the city yet, although the World of Concrete show last month returned with great fanfare to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Michael Massari, director of sales for Caesars Entertainment, said he was excited about convention bookings for the meeting facilities at the company’s 300,000 square foot Caesars Forum.

The Caesars Forum, which sits just east of the Strip between East Flamingo Road and Sands Avenue, was slated to open in 2020, but those plans have been altered by the pandemic.

The facility had hosted a number of small events – typically up to 50 or 100 people depending on the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place at the time – in recent months, but was able to host its first small convention, with around 1,200 participants, in June.

“It kicked off what will be a pretty solid schedule (for the Caesars Forum) for the next two years,” Massari said. “People’s desire to meet has never been higher and their understanding of why they meet in person has never been better. A year without face to face meetings, I think, really solidified that in people’s minds.

In fact, Massari said, Caesars wrote more new event contracts in the 12 months following the start of the pandemic in Las Vegas than in any other 12-month period in the company’s history. .

“Client demand for future meetings has never diminished,” said Massari. “We were still a little concerned with companies saying things like they would only send seven people (to a convention) when they sent 10 before, but I think we’re going to have a good rest of the year. . “

For now, as convention business returns, the leisure traveler will have to win. After all, the number of conventions in the city is still so low that LVCVA hasn’t even started tracking attendance, which it stopped doing during the height of the pandemic last year.

“There is pent-up demand out there,” Moore said. “People are delighted to be back. What we do is deeply rooted in consumer sentiment.

According to the most recent state casino gambling winnings figure, pent-up demand appears to be a very real thing.

In May, according to Nevada gaming regulators, casinos raised an all-time high $ 1.23 billion.

Casinos on the Strip won $ 655.5 million in May, up almost 27% compared to the same month in 2019.

Like MGM, Wynn Las Vegas has also made an effort to improve leisure travel bookings, perhaps also feeling the time to take a leap.

The company, which owns the Wynn and Encore resort tours on the north side of the Strip, recently launched an online reservation service that offers “fully planned” and “nearly included” group vacation packages.

The service offers a collection of “never too late to celebrate” group getaway packages for up to eight people.

Packages, which include a two- or three-night stay at the Wynn or Encore, start at $ 3,600. They include transportation to and from McCarran International Airport.

“After 15 months of separation, we make it possible for our clients to relax and reconnect with loved ones as easily as possible,” said Marilyn Spiegel, President of Wynn Las Vegas. “We had a lot of interest in these organized experiences. We are at the top of the market, but the top of the market has reacted very well recently. We are very close to being full every weekend.

For those who haven’t traveled to Las Vegas, there is also a lot to see for the first time.

Resorts World, the $ 4.3 billion megalopolis at the north end of the Strip, opened last month, just like the Billion dollar property near downtown Las Vegas at the end of last year.

There’s also the Allegiant Stadium, which will host fans for football matches and concerts this summer and fall, and the billion dollar expansion of the Convention Center, which has an elegant underground passenger transport system.

If there is a cloud of doubt over the recovery of Las Vegas, it is likely centered on the recent disturbing increase in coronavirus cases in the state.

State health officials reported 543 new cases and 11 deaths on Thursday, continuing a recent trend of increasing positivity rate.

While there have been many positive signs of an economic recovery, the momentum in Las Vegas could be tempered, according to Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, by “frightening test percentages and low vaccine percentages” .

While uncertainties remain, Moore said it’s time for MGM – and Las Vegas – to do what it seems to do best.

“Here at MGM, we exist to entertain, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do,” Moore said.

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