By measures including billions in capital improvements, year-over-year group growth and rising national awareness of its meetings strengths beyond just Las Vegas, 2017 counted as another positive year for Nevada.
For Vegas, of course, there was one singular story of progress—recovery and rebound from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shooting Oct. 1. In true testament to the strength of the entire Vegas community, the rallying spirit continues to carry the destination forward.
Meanwhile, Reno, the “Biggest Little City in the World,” is poised for an economic surge that analysts say could span 20 years as Tesla, with its Gigafactory, and other major tech players invest billions in the area. Tahoe South is blossoming again with investments, such as the $100 million Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe, while North Lake Tahoe continues to leverage its appeal as a premier mountain destination.
Hosting over 300 tournaments and 30-plus national and regional championship events annually, Carson City, the state capital, is square in the meetings game, while Elko, gold now pouring from Elko County’s Long Canyon mine project, mints shiny new group appeal.
With silver in its veins, Nevada has the minerals for lasting meetings momentum.
Talk about a company town. In Las Vegas, tourism directly and indirectly supports well over 350,000 jobs, or nearly half (44 percent) of the area’s employment. Supporting this workforce in turn was a dominant topic during IMEX America 2017, which took place just days after the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. With “VegasStrong” messaging on billboards across town, the word clearly got out, for at IMEX, on the Strip and elsewhere, the human response was nothing short of magnificent.
During IMEX, I saw the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the city’s new NHL team, play its first home game at T-Mobile Arena. It could have been the Stanley Cup final, with more than 20,000 towel-waving fans celebrating the 5-2 victory. Really, though, the energy was about emotions, including the uplifting pregame ceremony honoring victims and first responders, and the renewal of commitment to Vegas itself.
That same dedication extends to the destination’s unstoppable evolution, which heads into 2018 with greater momentum than ever.
Phase Two of the Las Vegas Convention Center District Expansion, which includes a 1.4 million-square-foot expansion with at least 600,000 square feet of new exhibition space, is now in the design phase, and groundbreaking was scheduled last month on the future Las Vegas Raiders’ planned 65,000-seat domed football stadium.
Caesars Entertainment, now emerged from bankruptcy, will continue to invest substantially in the future, including yet more room and property upgrades. Plus, as announced by CEO Mark Frissora in October, pending board approval, plans call for a new 300,000-square-foot convention facility on the Strip.
MGM Resorts International continues to redefine the future of meetings, with the $450 million Park MGM, a transformation of the former Monte Carlo, set to open in April, and Steve Wynn is redefining exuberance with his estimated $1.5 billion Paradise Park project, 47-story, 1,500-room hotel tower included—and much more, to be revealed in our February 2018 Las Vegas feature story.
Stations Casinos continues to assert its off-Strip prominence. Last month, the multi-property operator announced an investment of $485 million in a near-virtual makeover of the Palms Casino Resort, which it acquired a year ago for $312.5 million. The company’s luxury collection includes the 814-room Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa and 495-room Green Valley Ranch Resort Casino & Spa. Reflecting $35 million in recent enhancements, the former offers 94,000 square feet of space for groups, while the latter, featuring $20 million in recent tune-ups, offers 65,000-plus square feet of space.
Other off-Strip properties include the 2,100-room South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa, with 165,000 square feet of space, and M Resort Spa Casino in Henderson with 92,000 total square feet of space.
Reno Tahoe is booming as tech titans including Apple, Amazon and Tesla invest billions in area facilities and operations and inspire regional economic development on multiple fronts—tourism and meetings included.
“This growth is ensuring Reno Tahoe’s sustained viability as a destination,” said Michael Larragueta, vice president of sales for the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority (RSCVA). “Heading into 2018, it’s our positioning for selling northern Nevada to new and returning customers.”
Primarily attracting association, corporate and SMERF groups, plus sporting events, the destination books groups from 100 to 8,000 attendees. Strong momentum includes securing Interbike Marketweek, ranked 66th nationally and Reno’s largest tradeshow, for five years starting in 2018.
“We’ve opened new regional offices in our traditionally strong Northern California market, and in Atlanta, to build relationships in the growing association presence in the southeastern U.S.,” Larragueta said. “Plus, our new director of customer satisfaction and convention services is focused on improving customer experience at multiple RSCVA-operated venues.”