Vegas shows off its attractions
City’s best chefs and entertainers brought together for international travel show
As I sat in my seat at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts last week, watching an entertainment lineup that included Terry Fator, Clint Holmes and a band of Cirque du Soleil acrobats, I couldn’t help wondering: How much would a show like this cost if it were presented to a regular tourist audience?
The city’s tourism community was out to look its best for the more than 6,000 travel buyers and exhibitors who came to town this month for IPW, the U.S. Travel Association’s premier international travel show. Show leaders say it’s the biggest IPW event ever staged.
It was the first of four major local events that will put Las Vegas on a world stage. The Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress will bring 3,600 in mid-July, and IMEX America, which focuses on Latin American tourism, will welcome 8,000 in October.
But the gathering that may have the most significant impact on tourism is the 19th World Route Development Forum in early October. The forum provides one-on-one meetings for tourism leaders, airport officials and airline executives to plan routes for thousands of airplanes that will fly millions of passengers.
These high-profile events also typically attract hundreds of journalists.
Experts say host cities typically see a visitation bump of as much as 10 percent in the year after the event. The theory is that there’s only so much a news release, narrative, picture or video can do to explain the Las Vegas experience.
Even if a journalist comes to town for a week, there are far too many entertainment and dining options to choose from.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s solution to that dilemma was to bring the experiences to the journalists. For three hours on a Sunday morning — no sense taking one of the evenings out of play — about 500 journalists from 60 countries scarfed down brunch prepared by chefs from 40 restaurants. Then, they settled into their seats at Las Vegas’ most impressive “neutral” entertainment venue for a sampling of 10 acts from local resorts.
“It would take someone two weeks to see the entertainment these folks are going to be seeing in 45 minutes,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said.
So how much did it cost to bring the performers together?
According to the LVCVA, nothing. All of them volunteered, meeting to rehearse at 2 a.m. before taking the stage.
Sure, the performers hope the journalists come to their shows while they are in town. But more importantly, they wanted to hammer home the message that Las Vegas still is the unsurpassed leader in entertainment.