February 2015

Las Vegas broadens its horizons for a new tomorrow

by Jeff Heilman

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    High Roller at The LINQ

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    Las Vegas Strip

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    Marquee Dayclub/Night Club at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Approaching Las Vegas always comes with a sense of marvel and high expectation, especially when flying in over the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam from the east.

While the city’s planners did not create these American icons (the latter’s water and electricity integral to the fruition of Vegas, of course), it would seem fitting, even feasible, if they had in this mecca of man-made monuments.

Daytime descents into McCarran are impressive enough. At night though, and whatever your vantage point—airplane seat, high-altitude nightclub, Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, Stratosphere, High Roller, or fabulous terrace suite at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas—the grid is positively electrifying.

The energy and inspiration to “go big or go home” is integral to Vegas’ design, but it’s also a mantra that the keepers of the brand have had to obey ever since first cultivating Vegas’ signature “anything is possible” personality back in the 1940s. In the aftermath of a withering recession and in the face of ongoing competitive dynamics, the current generation of brand guardians have more than met the challenge.

In kinship with Hollywood and Wall Street, Las Vegas is a larger-than-life American dynasty built on high-leverage, high-stakes, high-returns endeavors. Essential to the bet is maintaining an aura of power, mystique and invincibility: As vividly illustrated by the rusting hulk of the stalled Fontainebleau Las Vegas project, today’s gain is tomorrow’s loss—and discredit.

Yet, the unfinished 68-story monolith, virtually the last of the recession’s ghosts, is yesterday’s news. The spotlight in Vegas is now brightly back on today, and shinier still on tomorrow.

Like the portfolio wizards on Wall Street and Hollywood’s star producers and directors, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and its casino-resort partners, along with the Downtown Alliance and independent contributors to the Vegas experience, are making bullish, creative plans for perpetuating the city’s legendary allure.

From more agenda-boosting options than ever to transformative projects such as the Las Vegas Global Business District, it’s a future that looks anything but conventional for groups.

Trade Volume

Welcoming a record 40 million visitors in 2014 and aiming higher for 2015, Vegas, which reached another historic milestone as America’s trade show leader for the past 20 consecutive years, also has grand ambitions for its group business.

“Las Vegas hosts more meetings and conventions than any other destination on the planet,” says Chris Meyer, vice president of global business sales for the LVCVA. “We are a global brand recognized for many things, including customer service, value, variety and excitement, and the city just keeps developing in ways that make it new and exciting for groups year after year.

Every conceivable market segment has returned to Las Vegas and embraced the power of face-to-face events, according to Meyer.

“In fact, many of our top shows experienced increased or record attendance during 2014 and we feel confident that trend will continue,” Meyer says.

Affirming that optimism is the return of four of Vegas’ largest shows in 2015. These include top-ranked International CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the largest trade show in North America and synonymous with Las Vegas since 1978. According to the LVCVA, the innovation showcase is expected to draw an estimated 160,000 attendees from more than 140 countries generating an economic impact of more than $210.2 million. As Ad Age reports, expect to see more marketing and branding professionals at the event, heading to a first-time venue at ARIA Resort & Casino dubbed the “C Space.”

Rounding out the quartet is the city’s second-largest event, the automotive juggernaut SEMA Show, along with World of Concrete Exposition and ASD (Associated Surplus Dealers) LV, eighth and ninth respectively. Collectively, the four shows are expected to attract an estimated 394,000 business delegates generating nearly $518 million in non-gaming economic impact.

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