No destination registers numbers like Las Vegas. Fun figures from 2014 include 11,336 Fountains of Bellagio shows, 7,982,550 pillows fluffed at MGM Grand and some 15,000 miles of lighted neon tubing on the Strip and Fremont Street.
Attracting a record 41.1 million visitors in 2014—up from 29 million in 1995 and 37.4 million in 2005—the destination is a statistical sensation on the group front, too.
Last year, Las Vegas hosted 22,103 meetings and conventions, generating $7.4 billion in total economic output and extending the city’s remarkable run as America’s top trade show and convention destination to 21 straight years.
While shy of 2007’s record 6.2 million delegates, last year’s 5.2 million attendees were the most hosted by the city since 2008 and a 1.2 percent increase over 2013. Now offering just over 150,000 hotel rooms, citywide occupancy hit 86.8 percent last year, 2.4 percentage points over 2013 and 22 points above the national average.
With emerging trends including mega-music festivals and a possible NHL franchise, and a heightened emphasis on health and wellness initiatives, Las Vegas is surging ahead with the next phase of its perpetual evolution.
To borrow from two major 2014 Vegas trade shows—World of Concrete, celebrating its 40th anniversary, and the construction industry’s co-located CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE shows, which set new exhibit and education records with nearly 130,000 attendees—Las Vegas is building on a solid foundation for the future.
As the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently noted of the city’s perennial dominance of the convention and trade show industry, “Las Vegas knows it has a target on its back as No. 1.” Based on a strong start to 2015—January saw an 18.4 percent lift in meetings and shows, with accompanying 8 percent boost in attendance over a year earlier—and a convention-filled 2015 calendar, the city has the legs to stay in front.
“Building relationships is everything in the business world, and you can’t always do that in front of a screen,” says Chis Meyer, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s (LVCVA) vice president of global business sales. “The recession taught everyone the value of face-to face meetings, and we will continue to spread that message and market Las Vegas as the premiere destination for group business.”
While ranking among the world’s most fabulous adult (and increasingly, Millennial) playgrounds, Vegas is all business when it comes to its thriving meetings, conventions and incentives market.
“More than a destination, Las Vegas is an ever-changing experience,” Meyer says. “Loaded with choices for venues, space, accommodations, amenities, teambuilding activities and networking options, that experience is second to none. Uniquely accommodating all types of tastes, expectations and budgets, we are constantly adding, changing and evolving so even if a group has been here multiple times, there is always something fresh and new to experience.”
Reflecting on 2014’s record-breaking visitation and six-year high for meetings, conventions and trade shows, Meyer’s outlook is bullish.
“We are looking forward to another strong year of growth in 2015,” he says. “So far this year, group business is up and we are confident that trend will continue.”
As steps progress toward the $2.3 billion Global Business District project, the city’s two leading casino-resort operators are also powering forward.
The Bottom Line
Adapting the LVCVA’s tagline, Caesars Entertainment also “means business.” Michael Massari, senior vice president of the company’s meetings group, cites the fundamental value of meetings in the commercial world.
“Just a decade ago, we saw an era where senior leaders booked many meetings without truly understanding how those meetings improved their business,” Massari says, calling 2014 “a fantastic year” for meetings and events. “This mind shift has changed for the better, where attendees are now carefully agreed on and key takeaways are decided upon. Company leaders understand that without face-to-face meetings, their companies would have poor communication and no growth.”