Our Top Tips From the LVCVA’s Las Vegas FAM Trip

“Once you see it, you can sell it” was the rallying cry recently at the Learn & Earn “Vegas Experience” FAM hosted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

More than 80 certified agents participated in the three-night fam trip. They earned a slot in the action-packed event by racking up bookings during LVCVA’s recent Learn & Earn promotional period.

Many of the agents hadn’t been to Sin City recently, making the fam all the more instructive.

The Las Vegas landscape is in a constant state of flux, a point hit home during fam informational sessions. LVCVA Senior Director of Leisure Sales Kelly Messina gave an overview of major developments in the past year. Individual suppliers added their own bullet points about hotel refurbishments and re-branding, new high-profile restaurants, clubs and entertainment venues.

New in Las Vegas for 2016 is the 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena on The Strip. Connected to the arena in an expanse between New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts is The Park, an outdoor entertainment and dining district. The 5,200-seat Park Theater at Monte Carlo opens December 17 with a concert headlined by Stevie Nicks and The Pretenders.

Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino

On the hotel front, W Las Vegas has debuted as the city’s latest hotel-within-a hotel. Taking over the 289-room SLS Las Vegas Lux tower on the north Strip, it offers a dedicated entry, reception, Away Spa, pool and bar.

Also in the north Strip area is the newly-built Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino. The 203-room boutique property offers an Asian-themed cultural, culinary and gaming experience.

Projects in the pipeline include Alon Las Vegas, a 1,100-room resort with a 17-story VIP tower and man-made lake. The massive Resorts World Las Vegas is scheduled for completion in 2019. The Asian-themed property will have nearly 6,600 rooms, indoor water park, rooftop sky park, ice-skating rink and a panda exhibit.

Agents also heard updates about changes on The Strip by Vegas behemoth MGM Resorts International. Monte Carlo Las Vegas Casino Resort is on track to transform into Park MGM by 2018. Nearly half a billion dollars will go into the project. The resulting luxury hotel will include a self-contained outpost of the lifestyle NoMad brand and the Italian marketplace, Eataly.

For the most part, agents appreciated the updates. But, they most looked forward to some outside activities.

“I’m from Southern California, where people come here all the time on their own. But, they probably don’t know all the activities that are going on. So it will help me a lot to find out more about them,” Pauline Assarian, an independent agent with Goldrush Getaways in Pomona, CA, tells Travel Agent.

Fortunately, activities took up a big part of the roster. The fam was, after all, billed as the “Vegas Experience.”

During the week, agents split into groups for a walking tour of downtown Las Vegas, as well as visits to the Mob Museum and the Neon Museum. Some ventured to the Hoover Dam. Action-packed options included indoor go-kart racing at Pole Position Raceway; a Pink Jeep Tour to Red Rock Canyon and an Exotics Racing Experience. Evening entertainment offerings included Blue Man Group and Mystere by Cirque du Soleil.

LVCVA sales executive Joel Peterson emphasized that the selected activities were commissionable. Agents appreciated that. But more importantly, they appreciated the chance to learn something new about Las Vegas.

“I haven’t been to a fam where you’re so hands-on. We’ve learned a lot about getting the client out of the resort to do local things. And, we’ve learned some inside info. Who would have guessed that there’s a VIP lounge at the go-kart track (Pole Position) where lots of celebrities go. Britney Spears brings her boys here. These are things the clients would not know without us. The great thing about this fam is that it isn’t typical. It’s benefitting us, our clients and Las Vegas,” Renee Dunkin, owner of Around About Travel in La Porte, TX, tells Travel Agent.

“It’s been a wonderful experience. All the agents are pretty engaged and I’m pretty sure they’ll take what we received from the suppliers and start using it with their clients,” Marisabel Marty, business department development manager for Travel Planners International, adds.

Supplier Zack Albrecht, manager of national accounts for Spirit Airlines, was certainly pleased about his participation.

“I’ve done countless events with the LVCVA in the past. This is probably the best one I’ve seen. The agents that are here are the ones that had to book enough Vegas to get here. As a supplier, especially an airline, I’m not looking for people that sell Spirit. I want people that sell Vegas so I can have a chance to convert them. Sometimes it’s hard to find the people that sell a lot of your locations. Insofar as prospecting, this is great,” Albrecht tells Travel Agent.

Of course, adventures of the culinary kind are a highlight of any fam. The Vegas Experience did not disappoint.

Delectable hot food stations and dazzling deserts were on display at the opening night reception at Level 107. A Sinatra-like crooner and spectacular views added to the atmosphere atop the tallest building in Nevada. Other dining highlights included gourmet small bites at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ Wicked Spoon and fresh Italian at Mercato della Pescheria at the Venetian Canal Shoppes.

The western buffet at Gilley’s Saloon, Dance Hall & Bar-B-Que took second billing to the entertainment factor. An agent-driven entertainment factor, that is. Countless braved their hand at line dancing, country Karaoke and mechanical bull riding.

But it was the closing night bash at Light Nightclub, Las Vegas where agents truly showed their stuff. They danced the night away, vowing to sell more Vegas.