Las Vegas Strip adapting from fly-in to drive-in visitors

  • A place that was used to fly-in visitors has turned into a drive-in visitor-dependent area, with no top-grade shows, concerts, or expos.
  • The lack of key attractions and substantial air travel has made it difficult for Strip resorts to lure visitors, industry observers have noted.
  • Casino-resort operators have been focusing on drawing local and regional customers with offers, promotions, and waived fees.
  • However, the operators can only give these goodies to some extent.

While The Strip was just a flight away for people seeking top-grade shows, concerts, expos, and sports six months ago, it has become a road trip for something they may already get closer to home.

CDC Consulting’s vice president Greg Mullen said without nightclubs, sports, and concerts, Las Vegas is going “back to the old days where it is all about gambling.”

The lack of amenities and substantial air travel is making Strip resorts face a unique challenge in luring guests, according to industry observers.

Resorts must both provide something unique when compared to other gambling destinations and convince potential visitors that these offers are worth a road trip during this time of the pandemic.

Business is Yet to be as Usual

Conventions and group and air travel have been on a halt since mid-March when Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak closed all nonessential businesses in the state to curb the spread of coronavirus. Despite most casinos reopening in June, business hasn’t gone back to normal.

Visitor volume in June fell 61% compared with the same period in 2019, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Up to the close of July, McCarran International Airport served 13.3 passengers compared with 2019’s 29.7 million.

On a July 30 earnings call, MGM Resorts International CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle told investors that material recovery will rely on a comeback of entertainment, conventions, and substantial air travel.

MGM and other casino-resort operators have focused their efforts on drawing local and regional customers with offers, promotions, and waived fees.

While the six largest Las Vegas-based companies didn’t disclose where visitors were coming from, several executives noted California and Arizona in second-quarter earnings calls.

On August 4, Wynn Resorts Ltd. CEO Matt Maddox told investors that the company was running under a different business model, relying on promotions, offers, and business partnerships to draw Southwestern visitors into the valley.

Maddox said that they had become super regional since there were no more conventions, nightclub crowds, and big shows. He added that non-gaming revenue had dropped about two-thirds.

As they were preparing to reopen this summer, MGM Resorts, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and Caesars Entertainment Corp. dropped parking fees.

President and founder of LaunchVegas, LLC Nehme Abouzeid said that everything was designed to bring in new business or bring back old customers. He added that including and dropping things like parking fees isn’t difficult.

However, discounts and promotions won’t go beyond a certain limit. Abouzeid said a resort can only give so many promotions to draw punters into the city before it reaches a point of “diminishing returns.”

I'm Adam Shaw, Senior Editor and one of the first members at VegasSlots. I'm a massive football sports fan but also love casinos and occasional trips to Las Vegas. Gaming runs in the family

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