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Sin City Becomes Deal City

December 8, 2008 By: Glenn Haussman Travel Agent
 

Economic troubles in Vegas mean great deals for your clients


With the economy in a freefall, Las Vegas is getting hit harder than any other destination in the U.S. Now, the major casino resorts are rolling out some of the most incredible deals ever seen. In fact, during the last two months since we last reported that Sin City was on sale, prices have continued nose-diving, more value-adds are being piled on and absolutely no one is paying full price.

bellagio

Top-tier resorts such as Bellagio are slashing room rates

It’s so dramatic, you’d think there was no one visiting this city. Although occupancy rates are still above 90 percent, the drop in occupancy has been enough to send room rates plummeting.

The Numbers

Las Vegas has too many hotel rooms, with thousands more coming during the next year; airlines have cut capacity into the market by as much as 15 percent; and weekenders from Los Angeles are staying away in droves. Combine that with an all-time low in the Consumer Confidence Index, and it’s a perfect storm to find your clients big deals.

According to J.P. Morgan’s Las Vegas Strip Room Rate Survey for November 23-29, the average daily room rate precipitously dropped an incredible 28 percent compared to the same period one year ago. Now, rooms that were selling for an average $165 at this time last year are going for $118. And that doesn’t even take into account all the freebies that are being given away to lure travelers not only to Las Vegas, but to specific casino resorts.

During the fourth quarter of 2008 to date, weekday rates are down 27 percent, while weekend rates are down 23 percent. Year-over-year rate decreases are becoming more pronounced as time goes on. For example, J.P. Morgan noted that during the third quarter of 2008, weekday rates sank 9 percent, while weekend rates were down 21 percent.

Offers are changing regularly, so it’s always good to check each resort’s respective website, but the bottom line is that top-tier resorts such as Bellagio can be booked for as little as $149 a night. For reservations, call 888-987-6667. The Venetian and The Palazzo are selling for as little as $119 a night. And the deals on the mid-market level are even deeper. Of course, better deals can be found Sunday through Thursday rather than on the weekends.

the palazzo

Clients can now experience the upscale elegance of The Palazzo at reduced rates

“This is a trend we are seeing across the market,” said Scott Voeller, director of marketing with Mandalay Bay. “In today’s economy, it’s about trying to find the offers that will spark people’s interest. It’s about giving as much value to the dollar as possible because everyone is watching what they are spending.”

Voeller says the casino typically offers a single promotional package at a time, but it is currently offering three at once. He also acknowledges that they are digging deeper to offer packages that will appeal to price-conscious travelers.

Value Add-Ons

Up and down the Strip, value add-ons are making incredibly low room prices seem like an even bigger bargain. Take Treasure Island (TI), for example. The recently renovated resort is offering fully commissionable packages through March 2009 with AAA Four-Diamond rated rooms selling for as little as $79 per night. Dubbed the “Winter Solstice Deluxe Room Offer,” guests also receive a $10 credit to Starbucks or Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream at TI; a 20 percent discount at the new Pizzeria Francesco’s, The Steak House or The Coffee Shop; a two-for-one lunch at The Buffet at TI; admission to the new Christian Audigier The Nightclub; a day pass to WET—The Spa & Salon at TI; and a savings book for the adjacent Fashion Show Mall. For reservations, call 800-288-7206 or visit the website.

“In my 10 years at Treasure Island, I have never seen a better time to book our resort,” says Don Voss, VP of sales and marketing. “Not only are we offering room rates that have not been available for years, but the quality of our product has never been better, as we just completed nearly $50 million in room renovations and upgrades.”

Voss acknowledges these deals won’t last forever and noted that the values available now have never been better “mainly due to the efforts by all the Las Vegas resorts to attract customers who are obviously a bit more careful spending money during the current economic conditions.” He adds that when visitor volumes climb back up, the deals will taper off.

Meanwhile, New York-New York is offering a variety of packages that throw in discounts, as well as upgrades. Available through January, guests who pay for two nights in a Park Avenue Strip room get a third night free. And through January 30, the $100 City Pass will give guests a bunch of extras, even as rooms sell for as low as $70 per night. They’ll get an upgrade to a Park Avenue Strip View Room, two welcome cocktails, a $25 retail credit, a two-for-one Il Fornaio breakfast, two-for-one spa passes for the fitness center and two-for-one passes to The Roller Coaster. Call 800-693-6763 or visit the website for more information.

Christopher Bond, executive director leisure sales with New York-New York, says the best deals are for those booking the farthest out. “We will continually develop creative options to satisfy our guests. A top goal is to encourage guests to book further out, so we will always offer an extended booking window,” said Bond.

Another great deal we’ve come across is at MGM Grand, a AAA Four-Diamond resort, with rates starting at $90 per night. For reservations, call 800-929-1111 or visit the website. And the newly renovated AAA Four-Diamond Mirage offers room rates starting at $89 per night. For reservations, call 800-374-9000 or visit the website.

Monte Carlo is a great mid-market product in the center of the Strip and has rooms starting at $60 per night. For reservations, call 866-934-1242 or visit www.montecarlo.com. Luxor, which has also just completed a top-to-bottom reinvention, has rates starting at $60 per night. For reservations, call 877-386-4658 or visit www.luxor.com. The economy-minded will love the rates at Excalibur, which start as low as $42 per night. For reservations, call 800-937-7777 or visit www.excalibur.com. Circus Circus has rates as low as $37 per night. Recently remodeled West Tower rooms start at $47 per night. For reservations, call 800-937-7777 or visit www.circuscircus.com.

At the Hard Rock Hotel, guests can save up to $800 with the “VIP Experience” package—rooms start as low as $149. It comes with a free upgrade to a Strip-view room (based on availability); a $100 food credit; two-for-one bottle service in Wasted Space or Body English (not available Saturday night in Body English); a line pass and free admission to Wasted Space and Body English; two-for-one drinks from 4-8 p.m. at the Center Bar; a $25 Match Play with Rockstar Club sign-up; a $50 credit per-person per-day in the Rock Spa; and a $50 merchandise credit.

While there is speculation that services at the casino resorts are being cut back, experts we spoke to say that’s not the case. There are, however, instances where guests can pay for premium services. For example, at The Venetian, guests can upgrade to a Luxury Suite for $100 a night and services, such as private check-in with private elevator access, complimentary newspaper, shoe-shine service and access to the shaded pool on the Venezia Garden Pool Deck are some of the amenities thrown in.

Cutting back on services guests expect would be foolish, says Mandalay Bay’s Voeller. “A guest staying with us may not have considered Mandalay Bay before and see an interesting deal and stay. That is a new customer to us, even if not they are not new to Las Vegas,” says Voeller. “At pre-shift meetings, we continually remind our employees of the need to take care of all our guests. When we get out of this [economic downturn], we will have the advantage because we will have prepared that customer.”


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