Cautious optimism has paid off for Las Vegas as the destination reported 25 consecutive months of visitor increases. Accordingly, Vegas hotel occupancy levels are at 83 percent, which is 25 percent higher than the national average. This momentum is expected to continue this year as Vegas paces to welcome 40 million visitors, which would make 2012 its best year on record.
For the Cash In On Vegas panel, Art Jimenez, senior director of leisure sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, collaborated with some of the destination’s biggest casino resorts. MGM Resorts International’s director of leisure sales and marketing, Sara Atwell, brought agents up to speed on MGM’s 13 Las Vegas properties. Donna Marcou-Stafford, vice president of leisure sales, invited agents to visit the “new” Tropicana Las Vegas and witness the property’s dramatic transformation. D’Anna Malbrough, senior manager of partner marketing and leisure sales, spoke about the new attractions and expansions guests will find throughout Caesar’s properties in Sin City.
The Cash In On Vegas booking incentive is back. What is up for grabs? And how can travel agents turn their Vegas bookings into cash and travel prizes?
-Starting in July and lasting for 12 consecutive months, the LVCVA is giving away $5,000 per month and two trips to Vegas, including airfare and suite or penthouse accommodations.
-To participate, agents should go to TrackMyLasVegasBookings.com and download the auto tracker tool, which automatically aggregates bookings made in any GDS or wholesaler websites. The rewards program is both production- and random-based, so the more agents book, the more chances they have to have to win.
Vegas is constantly reinventing itself. What are the city’s casinos and resorts doing to stay current?
-Approximately $3.6 billion is going into renovations in Vegas this year alone, and older, more established properties are transforming themselves. The Riviera is currently going through a complete remodel; Sahara Hotel and Casino will be redeveloped as an SLS property; and both Union Plaza and Circus Circus recently completed room and public space renovations.
-The Tropicana recently completed a $180 million transformation and now features vibrant, South Beach-inspired guestrooms and suites as well as new food and beverage venues: Biscayne Steak, Seafood and Wine and the Beach Cafe. At Bascio by Carla Pellegrino, celebrity chef Carla Pellegrino personally cooks for guests every evening. Bagatelle Beach & Nightclub, opening in June, will feature two additional pools, volleyball courts and a concert venue.
-On the entertainment side, Tropicana guests can spot celebrities at “Dancing With the Stars” or watch top comedians perform at the new Laugh Factory.
-This year, the Flamingo upgraded its guestrooms and added a new casino, Margaritaville, and opened two new restaurants: Center Cut Steakhouse and the first West Coast location of the popular Mexican restaurant, Carlos’n Charlie’s.
-Project Linq, a $550 million investment, is currently under way. It will include an observation tower — which will be taller than the Singapore Flyer and the London Eye — as well as 200,000 square feet of retail and food and beverage. The project will link the Imperial Palace and Flamingo resorts.
-Caesar’s Palace recently opened its sixth tower, the Octavius Tower, part of the company’s $860 expansion project. A Nobu hotel will replace the Centurion Tower. The world’s first Nobu hotel will open in September of this year with 140 rooms and the largest Nobu restaurant to date.
-Not only are older properties going through refreshments so are newer properties such as the Bellagio. This year, the Bellagio unveiled its six-month renovation of 2,568 rooms in the hotel’s main tower — a $70 million upgrade.
-Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas opened this spring and marks the award-winning chef's first restaurant in Las Vegas.
What are some hot Vegas packages that agents should be aware of?
-MGM International has launched an entertainment package, bookable through all the traditional partners. The three-night air and hotel package includes two tickets to shows such as “The Beatles Love,” “Chris Angel Believe” and “Viva Elvis by Cirque du Soleil,” among others.
-Caesars offers a Buffet of Buffets package that, for 24 hours, allows guests to dine in eight buffets across the city. For $99, visitors can see 24 Caesars Entertainment shows, including afternoon performances, within a 48-hour period. For $49.99, visitors can swing by seven nightclubs in 24 hours with VIP access.
Can you describe some of the tools you have available for agents, including your educational programs, website, marketing collateral, marketing support, etc.?
-The LVCVA has a new website with a travel agent portal, VisitLasVegas.com/Travel-Professionals that offers sample itineraries, brochure requests, maps, newsletter templates and a list of lesser-known commissionable Vegas opportunities for agents.
-Tropicana offers a travel agent portal, TropLV.com/Landing/Travel-Agents, that lists all of the property’s specials, up-to-date news, fams and brochures. Agents who want to visit can enjoy the first night free or discounted, agent-only rates and show tickets.
-MGMResortsAccess.com offers e-brochures, agent rates and detailed information on each of MGM’s properties. The agent-specific site is currently being reworked in order to add an educational component and a rewards program. The site will relaunch in the next few months.
-Caesar’s offers a specialist program, Caesar’s Travel Agent Academy, as well as an agent-specific website, CaesarsTravelAgents.com, with insider’s tips and a new incentive rewards program called, Lucky Rewards 2012. Agents can earn complimentary room nights, food and beverage and show tickets.