Las Vegas, Nevada
With more than 150,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas and a gaming industry that is pushing $10 billion in Clark County — $6.5 billion of that was gambled on the Strip — it’s not about what you can do in Vegas; it’s about figuring out how to choose from the onslaught of options.
“Las Vegas can be very overwhelming to people,” said Courtney Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). “There is so much to do and so much to see that people typically don’t know where to start, so that’s when they go to travel planners to help book their trip. But it can even be overwhelming for professional travel planners.”
Planners may be up on Vegas or know the basics, but not have all the specifics for groups, she added. That’s why the LVCVA has a specific site for travel professionals where planners will find several tools to help whittle down the options.
The Cash In on Vegas program provides planners with reward points for every room night booked that they can then cash in for prizes, and Commissionable Vegas allows planners to choose tours, shows and attractions that give the planner a commission.
The LVCVA also provides sample “How To Vegas” itineraries with themes for first-timers, foodies or thrill seekers and a group booking request form that allows a planner to “fill out one form and then have the hotels come to them,” Fitzgerald said.
Mississippi’s Gulf Coast region has been dealt some serious blows over the past decade. Hurricane Katrina ravaged the coast in 2005, and local officials expected it to take about five years to bounce back from that. Then the BP oil spill devastated the coast in 2010, which was supposed to be the comeback year.
Figure in the Great Recession, and it’s been a rough haul for the region, one that the Mississippi Gulf Coast may not have weathered were it not for its gaming scene.
“We’re coming back,” said Janet Harrington, manager of group sales for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re starting to see some pickup in the numbers.”
The coastal region, which includes Bay St. Louis and Gulfport, has a dozen casino resorts, but Biloxi is home to nine of them.
Harrington said people may be surprised by the region if they have never visited or haven’t visited recently. So much has been rebuilt, “pretty much all the hotels are new,” Harrington said, and many surprising touches have been added, including public art and beautification projects.
Last year, Landry’s bought the Isle of Capri resort in Biloxi and invested $100 million to renovate it, expand it and transform it into the Golden Nugget Biloxi.
Both the Silver Slipper Casino in Bay St. Louis and Margaritaville Casino in Biloxi are adding hotels, each slated to be complete late this year or early next year.