Conference & Meetings World Issue 94 - Page 52

City Report Las Vegas: Times they are a-changin’ SIMON GEORGE IMMERSES HIMSELF IN THE GLITZ OF LAS VEGAS AND SAYS CHANGE IS A GAMBLE PROBABLY WORTH TAKING FOR SIN CITY’S MICE INDUSTRY (solar powered), 26,000sqm convention centre at Wynn on what used to be its golf course. This is scheduled to open in March 2020 and there will be expansion of existing meeting facilities at the Mandalay Bay, Aria and Luxor; and upgraded event space/ entertainment offerings (Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas). he self-proclaimed ‘entertainment’ (and some would add ‘events’) capital of the world is in a state of constant flux. As Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) acknowledges, key to the city’s success is the ability to reinvent itself. Change is the only constant in life, Heraclitus of Ephesus (not Caesars Palace) opined back in the fifth century BC. Apply the Greek philosopher’s wisdom to Las Vegas today and few would disagree. In the 1990s family-oriented hotels tended to be the norm in Las Vegas; in the 2000s they have been transformed into resort complexes. While visitors flock to its casinos, shows, restaurants, nightclubs and, of course, conventions, Las Vegas gets on with restructuring, refurbishing, rebranding and, in so doing, reinventing itself. Like New York, the city does not have much time for sleep. The Vegas effect No standing still For the next few years some US$7bn worth of new projects have either been announced or are already underway, according to the LVCVA. These include a $500m refurbishment of the Monte Carlo in 2016-18, featuring the ‘jewel in the crown’, the 5,300-seater Park Theatre, which opened in December 2016, as the hotel morphs into Park MGM. There will be an eco-friendly 52 / CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD / Above: Solar power and hospitality - a Wynning combination ISSUE 94 • US$9.3bn economic impact on southern Nevada • Significant tax generation • Supports 65,000 jobs • 6.6m business travellers visited in 2017, an all-time high • Over 1m sqm of meeting space • 22,000 meetings and conventions a year Delegate numbers rising Annual delegate numbers to Las Vegas also give grounds for optimism, with totals recovering steadily from the dark days of the global financial crisis in 2009. Last year some 42m people visited the city, 6.6m of whom (15%) attended conventions. This is a record, according to John Schreiber, senior director of business sales at the LVCVA. Totals for 2017 were up 5% year-on-year, too early to represent a trend perhaps but heading in the right direction and surely music to the LVCVA’s ears – and 2018 looks set to be another healthy year. Wi-Fi and cyber security In Las Vegas, Mike Dominguez, MGM Resorts International’s senior vice-president and chief sales officer, speaking to CMW, crystallised both the key issues facing the company and the industry, and highlighted the opportunities for growth. MGM’s partnership with suppliers Cisco Systems and Mobilitie, he said,