Las Vegas tourism chief's new goal: 45 million visitors

2 February 2015

LAS VEGAS -- Drawing more than 41 million tourists to Las Vegas is yesterday's news.

Now, the head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has a new goal.

Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the organization that markets the city, told an audience at Preview 2015 on Friday that 45 million visitors will be the new benchmark and he expects to hit that "within the next few years." If the goal is achieved, it would produce 37,000 new tourism industry jobs in Southern Nevada.

"The question," Ralenkotter said, "is how do we get to 45 million visitors?"

Ralenkotter was one of four speakers who addressed Southern Nevada's economy at Preview, offering forecasts and insights of what could lie ahead. Nearly 2,000 people attended Preview, the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce's premier networking event, at the Thomas & Mack Center and the Cox Pavilion on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.

Ralenkotter, who said he never imagined the city reaching 40 million visitors when he started with the authority as a marketing researcher more than four decades ago, spent most of his presentation answering his own question, sprinkling in several video clips of some of the newest "What happens here, stays here" television ads that have hit the market.

He summarized the strategy the LVCVA has been building over the last six months and added a few new details about the $2.3 billion Las Vegas Global Business District project that is expected to get started this year.

The project, a major overhaul of the Las Vegas Convention Center that will include a transportation hub component and state-of-the-art exhibition services technology to maintain the city's edge in attracting conventions, will have a huge economic impact on the city, he said.

The project is expected to create 6,000 construction jobs throughout the multiphased project and 6,000 new permanent jobs once it is completed.

Ralenkotter said cities across the country have been trying to pry major conventions away from Las Vegas. Most recently, the authority signed a long-term deal to keep the International Council of Shopping Centers after a strong pitch by Chicago.

TURNING AWAY TRADE SHOWS

Ralenkotter said Las Vegas had to turn away about 30 major trade shows because it didn't have the room to accommodate them. The Business District overhaul will provide the added space needed to host more shows.

Ralenkotter also said the authority would continue its efforts to attract international travelers and boost the current percentage of 20 percent of visitors coming from abroad to 30 percent by 2020.

The city got a major assist with revisions to China's visa policy that will enable Chinese travelers to use visas over a 10-year period instead of having to reapply.

A third piece of the LVCVA bid to draw 45 million visitors is to more aggressively market to the demographic between the ages of 18 and 31 — the millennials — who see Las Vegas as a place to play, attend concerts and music festivals, shop and go to clubs.

The authority is investing in research to better understand the millennial generation. Marketers believe they may be able to capitalize on millennials' affinity for brand loyalty by convincing them that Las Vegas is more of a metaphor for adult freedom than a destination.

The city already is building on events and infrastructure to draw younger consumers to activities like the Electric Daisy Carnival, I Heart Radio and the new Rock in Rio festival, which debuts in Las Vegas in May.

Ralenkotter said the emphasis on millennials doesn't mean the LVCVA will ignore its loyal customer base. He said 86 percent of the people who visit Las Vegas are leisure travelers and 15 percent of those are people seeing the city for the first time — an opportunity to win repeat business.

TIME FOR MILLENNIALS TO MOVE OUT

While Ralenkotter explained the strategy to attract millennials, another speaker suggested that it's time for them to move out of their parents' homes.

Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst for Applied Analysis, Las Vegas, explained that Southern Nevada's economy is continuing to percolate, thanks to the resort industry's diversification of the Las Vegas entertainment package and the unexpected stimulus of rapidly falling gasoline prices.

Plunging fuel prices have put more money in consumers' pockets and they may be able to realize even more if their millennial children got jobs and moved out.

While Nevada's gross gaming revenue is up a paltry 2.1 percent over last year, it's still the nation's industry leader. Taxable retail sales, he said, were up 8.1 percent in the last 12 months and the absorption rate of companies moving into office, retail and industrial space last year was the highest since 2007.

Speaker Robert Lang, UNLV's director of Brookings Mountain West, added context to the economic windfall discussion. Last year, Lang compared Las Vegas's fortunes with another tourism mecca, Orlando, Fla. On Friday, he compared to another O city, Omaha, Neb. — and he thinks Omaha may be stronger despite having half the population base of Las Vegas.

One of Southern Nevada's problems, he said, is that it isn't motivated to get its fair share of revenue from the state and the region's philanthropy is focused on filling the gaps left by the state and federal governments, while Omaha's philanthropists build long-lasting institutions.

Lang said he wanted to dispel the myth that Las Vegas is becoming the next Silicon Valley.

Nevada will have an opportunity to expand its trade presence with construction of Interstate 11, but that may take a long time because the state isn't offering enough help — it won't even chip in to complete the 215 Beltway.

The event's last speaker, columnist and television commentator Trish Regan, explained Las Vegas's role within the global economy and the opportunities it has to capitalize on its tourism infrastructure.

Related Links
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Gaming Vendor Information


Copyright GamingWire. All rights reserved.
Featured Vendors
Casino Network
Players Pal
Casino Network
20+ years experience selling refurbished slot machines, parts & glass for all major brands
Players Pal
Revolutionize the way you connect with your casino players with the Players Pal mobile app
Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA) Conference
Casino Schedule Ease
Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA) Conference
The biggest little show in Indian gaming! Save the date: August 12-14, 2024 Oklahoma City
Casino Schedule Ease
Full Featured & customizable for the complex scheduling needs of table games & other casino depts
Dable Advisory & Consulting Services
House Tech Ads
Dable Advisory & Consulting Services
Advisory & consulting services services for Indigenous entrepreneurs, businesses & organizations
House Tech Ads
Drive quality casino-gambling traffic to your brand from over 70 countries from our premium assets!
Betson Imperial Parts & Service
Top One Tech Limited
Betson Imperial Parts & Service
Your one stop shop for all your gaming and OEM needs!
Top One Tech Limited
Global Touch solution partner of choice, 10+ years OEM manufacturing, 100,000+ units application
Rymax Marketing Services, Inc.
Sunkist Graphics, Inc.
Rymax Marketing Services, Inc.
Leader in creating award winning player & employee loyalty programs & events proven to increase ROI
Sunkist Graphics, Inc.
Specializing in the creation of best-of-breed gaming graphics - slot glass, sign faces, and more
Shenzhen ZhengYuanTai Technology Co., Ltd.
Talisman Group Creators of EZ Baccarat
Shenzhen ZhengYuanTai Technology Co., Ltd.
14 years experienced gaming display manufacturer: open frame, curved, and halo monitors
Talisman Group Creators of EZ Baccarat
With over 800 tables in 150+ casinos, EZ Baccarat is the number one brand in baccarat.
TribalHub
Regulatory Management Counselors, PC
TribalHub
25th Annual TribalNet Conference Sept 16-19, 2024 Westgate Las Vegas
Regulatory Management Counselors, PC
Over 45 years of experience serving the legal and regulatory needs of casino industry clients
Imagine This
Casino City Press
Imagine This
Imagine This #1 Source for Player Gifts. Over $50 million in stock ready to ship! Let us serve you!
Casino City Press
A leading publisher and distributor of casino and gaming business data and market research reports.
AmericanChecked
Slot Machines Unlimited
AmericanChecked
Background checks for the gaming industry with key & non-key packages & fingerprinting solutions
Slot Machines Unlimited
Exporter of IGT, Williams, AVP, Trimline, Aristocrat, Konami, Bally, & parts over 20 yrs experience
Texas Slots & Gaming
OCR - Online Casino Reports
Texas Slots & Gaming
Wholesale gaming reimagined. Texas Slots & Gaming is your sustainable gaming partner.
OCR - Online Casino Reports
Delivers highly targeted casino traffic from over 70 countries! Get your casino listed today at OCR!
GamblersPick
GamblersPick
Share & Read other players' reviews! A top player community-driven portal for online casinos.


Your Guide to 14,931 Gaming Industry Suppliers