Vegas is poised for a robust return to meetings
There is a reason some of the most high-profile events to happen in the last year—World of Concrete (the first major convention to return to the U.S. post-pandemic), hybrid CES, and the meeting industry’s own IMEX America—took place in Nevada.
The state has the space, event business-friendly attitude and access to make the decision to move ahead a little easier. There are no limits on size of gathering, but safety protocols are in place and enforced.
Expanded Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) alone hosted 52 trade shows in 2021, welcoming more than 700,000 attendees back to its 1.4 million sq. ft. Five of those events, including the International Council of Shopping Centers, Working Ranch Expo and The ARA Show, were new to the destination. Another 20 are scheduled through March.
“It’s clear that organizers, exhibitors and attendees are ready to get back to in-person events as we move into the new year and beyond,” said Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Vice President of Business Sales, John Schreiber.
Nevada’s northern meeting hub is similarly busy. Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) hosted 80 groups and has booked 69 future events. That is, in addition to the virtual events they helped facilitate from new studio spaces.
In fact, the destination ended its fiscal year in July with June as one of the highest taxable room revenues in the history of the agency tracking the numbers.
“We’ve learned a lot over the past 18 months, and we’re prepared to continue pushing forward and pivoting, when necessary,” said Reno Tahoe President and CEO Charles Harris in a statement.
For those who haven’t had a chance to see the Silver State in action lately, we are sharing highlights of what you can look forward to when you return. As always, the state is one of the most Instagram-able out there. How will you frame it?
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View from the Event Floor
By empowering meeting professionals to safely bring people together, Nevada venues are helping show the way back to meetings.
Nevada, as of press time, does not limit size of groups, but does mandate that everyone, including the fully vaccinated, wear a mask in public indoor areas. Conventions of more than 4,000 can apply for an exception if they require that all attendees are vaccinated.
What does unlimited meeting look like on the big stage? The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) Show returned to expanded LVCC in November.
A new $1 billion, 1.4 million-square-foot West Hall now boasts Las Vegas Convention Center Loop, the underground tunnel developed by Elon Musk’s The Boring Company designed to shuttle convention attendees throughout the 200-acre campus in all-electric Tesla vehicles.
Show organizers reported that exhibitors were delighted by the quality of the attendees and pace of business, and most have already re-contracted for DEMA Show 2022.
“We are so happy to be back face-to-face, but more importantly, our exhibitors and attendees were extremely happy that DEMA took the steps to safely stage the show,” said Tom Ingram, DEMA president and CEO in a statement. “Everyone had a great show, enjoyed seeing each other in-person again, conducting business, attending professional development sessions, and once again building important personal relationships.”
In January, more than 40,000 attendees gathered at Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR-certified LVCC for CES 2022 after going completely virtual in 2021.
Although some big names made the decision to go virtual after an Omicron surge, Consumer Technology Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro pointed to more than 2,300 exhibiting companies from around the world, including more than 800 startups, that launched products featuring innovation in the areas of artificial intelligence, automotive technology, digital health and smart home.
“Innovation came to life…at CES 2022 with technologies that will reshape industries and provide solutions to pressing worldwide issues from healthcare to agriculture, sustainability and beyond,” Shapiro said in a statement. “The CES show floor buzzed with the joy of human interaction and a five-sense innovation experience with products that will redefine our future and change our world for the better.”
The 24-hour city is just getting started again. LVCC has plans to host nearly 20 events from January through March, including: MAGIC Marketplace and ASD Market Week retailer show. Citywide conventions and special events returning in 2022 include Sin City Classic at the Flamingo, SHOT Show at The Venetian Expo and Las Vegas Market–Winter at The Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas.
At Station Casino’s six properties, including luxury Red Rock Resort, Casino & Spa (796 guest rooms and 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space) and Green Valley Ranch, Resort, Casino & Spa (497 guest rooms and 69,000 sq. ft. of meeting space)—Vice President and General Manager Deanna Burgess reported in an interview with Smart Meetings in late January that lead volume is above pre-pandemic levels and short turn-around bookings are finding windows of availability for groups from 10-500 people.
“We are seeing some attendance fall, but some are exceeding projections and coming back to add rooms,” she said.
“Vegas tends to rebound sooner because of the value proposition with something for everyone, including airlift and the weather; we are in the meetings and entertainment business,” she said.
Properties like Red Rock are focusing on outdoor opportunities and health and wellness, increased air filtration inside and pampering at signature spa facilities.
Over at Circa Resort & Casino Las Vegas (777 guest rooms and 21,654 sq. ft. of meeting space, not including the massive outdoor pool sports deck), the new downtown sports casino on the block, Director of Sales Sasha Lee is seeing “a ton of demand for Fall of 2022 along with some very short-term requests for Spring 2022.”
Companies are asking about long-term rates but waiting to contract until as little as 30-120 days out.
She is still providing flexibility on cancellation and tiered attrition terms on a case-by-case basis. with no charge up to 90 days out.
“Of course, if it falls under force majeure, there is no penalty, but if a company needs to make a personal choice to cancel in the best interest of their attendees, we are being sympathetic to those decisions and offering this flexibility,” she said.
Another Covid-new attraction is the experiential entertainment district of AREA 15. Billed as “an interactive surrealist supermarket,” tenant Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart offers a colorful backdrop for team building, scavenger hunts or curiosity seekers. Full buyouts are available.
This article appears in the February/March 2022 issue.