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Vegas VarietyJune 3, 2009 By: Michael Browne Travel Agent
With hotel deals catering to every type of client, Las Vegas continues to be a fun and economical destination (shown here, the pool at The Luxor)
In what has so far been an unimpressive tourism year for Las Vegas, what many people forget is that there are always bargains to be found in this city, and few destinations in the U.S. offer the breadth of activities and diversions that can be experienced there. With more deals than ever, travel agents would be well-advised to take another look at Las Vegas as a destination for just about everybody—from hard-partying singles to families with kids and senior citizen slot mavens.
“Vegas has become a terrific alternative to other traditional vacations that people may have postponed during these uncertain economic times,” says Tom Ludington, vice president, Las Vegas Product for GOGO World Vacations. “Agents can serve up just about any vacation experience, including nightlife, sightseeing, world-class shopping, ‘Broadway’ shows, headline entertainment, fine dining, golf and sun and sand. And oh, yes, there’s gaming too.”
GOGO is using its “On the Go” guide as well as its website and team of business development managers to promote its latest Vegas deals. To maintain a buzz at the agent level, GOGO recently launched Lucky 7, an agent incentive in conjunction with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, whereby top-producing agents can win one of seven spots on a Vegas adventure with accommodations, air and a “Vegas Experience.” In addition, a top-producing agent can win a high-end Vegas vacation for two, including first-class air on Delta.
For clients, it’s all about the deal, but agents don’t have to look far to find them. “Per-night hotel prices in Las Vegas are as low as could be,” points out agent Michael Rotondo of AAA Travel New York. “They are just as low as they were when I started in the industry over 18 years ago. My first official trip for AAA was to Circus Circus, and the rate was $29 per night. Right now, pricing for Circus Circus is only $32.”
What Rotondo has been observing is that clients are staying at higher-end hotels at a fraction of what they would normally cost. “The value-adds that the hotels are offering are plentiful,” he says, “but it’s the low prices at high-quality hotels that are driving clients to Vegas.”
As an example, he says, last year the average dollar spend per night at the Excalibur was $95. Compare this to the $60 per night dollar spend for bookings made in the first quarter of this year, and, again, to the continuing point pricing drop to $46 per night for travel through July 15.
“It seems like there is a pent-up demand, and travelers are starting to realize that this is the time to take advantage of the overall low pricing that is available at good hotels that still offer good service,” he says.
More than Pricing
Still, today’s travelers are a savvy group and they know they can get more than just low hotel prices. In Vegas, the big resorts are falling all over themselves to come up with value-adds that could sway a guest in their direction.
The Signature at MGM Grand, for instance, has kicked off its Summer Splash promotion running through August 31, with rates starting at $129 per night for a Junior Suite, as well as daily breakfast for two and free meals for kids under 10 at the hotel’s Delights restaurant or at poolside (with the purchase of an adult meal). For an altogether different clientele, the hotel is offering His or Her Getaways with amenities ranging from golf credits to Studio 54 passes, Champagne and strawberries or beer and popcorn. Rates start at $209 per night for a One Bedroom Suite, with a minimum two-night stay.
A One Bedroom Suite at The Signature of MGM Grand
“The hotels still need to compete for market share and fill rooms,” says Ludington, “so many have added additional values to their already attractive rates. No question, the low package prices attract a lot of attention and get the phones ringing in the agencies. Put some added values into the mix and it’s a sure bet to close the sale. The more the agent serves up the components, the more excited the consumer gets and they start thinking less about the economy and more about the escape.”
But, he cautions, “The value-adds must be meaningful and have mass appeal. For instance, a day pass to the fitness center doesn’t cut it any more. Show tickets or a food and beverage credit in Vegas are exciting and appeal to just about anyone considering Vegas for a vacation.” For instance, GOGO has just launched an offer available through September that includes a choice of two Cirque du Soleil or Disney’s The Lion King tickets with any three-night (or longer) air-inclusive package at any MGM Mirage resort.
So, for your clients who are still on the fence about taking a summer vacation, Las Vegas may just be the ticket.