“IF I WERE… LAS VEGAS”

In the 70’s and 80’s (the years I was growing up) Las Vegas, the self proclaimed “Entertainment Capital of the World”, was known for inexpensive rooms, food and shows.  The resorts wanted guests at the tables gambling.  In the 90’s, Las Vegas started to shed its sin city reputation to attract families.  Now in 2009, the resorts themselves, shopping, shows, and restaurants have become as much of an attraction as gambling, free drinks, and legalized prostitution (my girls made a game out of collecting call-girl cards that were being handed out on the strip).  The above (minus the gambling, free drinks, and prostitution…except for the “trading cards” of course) are the reasons my family goes to Vegas.

Las Vegas can be great for families.  In one place you can find some of the best restaurants, shopping and entertainment in the world.  The problem is we can’t afford to do it anymore.  I bet we aren’t alone.

Now granted, my family is far from thrifty travelers.  But on the other hand, we drove to Las Vegas versus flying and stayed free on “points”.  We used sites like http://www.goldstar.com/home (my cousin Ann Leslie turned me on to this site) to purchase show tickets, used vouchers and coupons from the hotel, and even a gift certificate to eat one night…and we still couldn’t afford to do it again.  Las Vegas needs to drop its prices, stop building hotels and focus on customer service.

Here are the top 10 Things I would do…”If I were Las Vegas”.

  • 1) Drop your room prices in the nicer hotels. You want to make more money at the tables, save money for guests to gamble with.
  • 2) Have all your managers wait in the lines your guests have to.  That will put an end to that.  Two of my families favorite attractions (also way over priced) were the “Bodies” and “Titanic” exhibits at the Luxor.  We waited in a ticketing line for close to an hour. When we finally got to the ticket window, the person at the counter’s first question was “how will you be paying”.  I wanted to say “I’m not” but instead asked who told her to ask that as her first question…especially when someone has been waiting in line for an hour.  How about may I help you?  The woman at the counter told me “that was what she had been trained to say”. REALLY!!!!
  • 3) Wal-Mart is a discount store and even they have “greeters”.  All the big hotels need customer service people everywhere to point guests in the right direction.  If a guest has to spend all of their time finding their way around, then waiting in line, the guest will not be spending as much money with you as they should.
  • 4) Show ticket prices need to come down.  It costs as much to see “Mama Mia” in Las Vegas as it does on Broadway.  They are not of the same quality and thus should not charge the same ticket price.  The Cirque shows are of the same caliber (although some a little boring to me) so the hotels should pay to have them there and tickets should be $50, not $100 or more.
  • 5) Stop marketing to everyone who wears an “I’m with Stupid” T-shirt.  Middle America needs a place in Las Vegas just like everyone else, but it seems that that demo is a majority of the guests in the city.
  • 6) Use solar and wind power. You are in the desert and one thing that really turns-off many potential guests is the vast amount of resources used in your city.  Use the desert to your advantage and watch a whole new breed of guest come in.
  • 7) Per the above, start a new strip that is totally “green”. An entire new city where there are no cars, all power is from clean energy sources, and water and all other resources are recycled, etc.
  • 8) Bring in more mid-level priced restaurants.  It seems that your choices are either pizza and hot dogs or something that starts with “Le” which is code for very expensive.  How about restaurants that aren’t chains where entrée prices are in the high teens to mid-twenties?
  • 9) Widen the sidewalks. Guests love to walk the strip but don’t like being pushed around.  All the sidewalks should be as wide as they are by Luxor.
  • 10) Would someone please build an amusement park in Las Vegas!!!  The Adventure Dome at Circus-Circus just doesn’t cut it. In fact, someone should take a wrecking ball to that hotel.  They can leave the dome.

If there were a number 11, it would be to help pay to widen I-15 as there is way too much traffic on that freeway.

With all that said, I hope Las Vegas and everyone else in the live entertainment business has a great 2009.  As always, I look forward to your comments and encourage you to write a piece for the LiveWorks Newsletter.

Happy New Year!

Jim

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