Marketed internationally as “The Entertainment Capital of the World“, Las Vegas is a modern day miracle in the state of Nevada, a hot, arid and almost desert like region. By now, almost everybody in the world would be familiar with how it reinvented itself to attract some close to 40 million visitors a year.
What are the secrets of its success? Well, it isn’t just about striking that pot of gold.
The first is Fantasy and Image. Everything in Vegas is larger than life. When it had a countdown party on New Year’s Eve, the total bill was US$5 million for the fireworks show. Iconic casino resorts like MGM Grand, New York New York, Venetian, and Bellagio dot the landscape and provide a form of escapism beyond compare.
This leads to the next two related points. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” or WHIVSIV (its acronym) alludes to the above factor. This is related to the “I can’t see or do this at home” factor which I am sure befalls everyone of us now and then when we itch for a holiday. Incidentally Las Vegas is also known as the Sin City.
Being uniquely One of a Kind also makes it stand out. Few places in the world have differentiated themselves in such a way. Las Vegas is about gaming, entertainment, food, shopping and spas. Nothing else.
Continuous Innovation and Reinvention is another strategy. In other words, “If its old, we blow it up”. Las Vegas is a city that is always a work in progress. Casinos and hotels are being built, torn down and rebuilt. Each successive effort is louder, more vulgar and brash than the last. It redefines itself constantly to keep abreast of global competition.
Another competitive advantage is its focus on Service Excellence. Las Vegas doesn’t “nickle and dime” its customers and “no” is not an option. Many of its resorts and attractions mine customer databases very well to suit individual preferences (especially the high rollers or whales). In fact, this is why there are some 3,500 to 4,000 cameras in a typical casino or resort – to catch cheaters out to spoil the experience of others!
A final point related to creating hype is Celebrities. No other region in the world (perhaps except tinseltown Hollywood) has such a strong line-up of movie stars, singers, comedians and sport heroes. The glitz and glamour of the high-life adds to the image.
The numbers for Las Vegas certainly look good in the last 13 years or so.
BEFORE IN 1994
– 75,000 hotel rooms
– 22 million visitors
– Gaming Revenue: 80%, Non Gaming Revenue: 20%
NOW IN 2007
– 140,000 hotel rooms
– 40 million visitors
– Gaming Revenue: 40%, Non Gaming: 60%
What’s especially telling is the shift towards non gaming revenue which many see as a more sustainable and socially acceptable way to make money. Hotel occupancy rates are also higher than ever before, averaging some 90% which is 30% above the US average. The city also hosts more than 25,000 conventions and meetings a year.
What will the future hold? Well, despite the opening of a lot more casinos in almost every major city in the US, Las Vegas still holds its ground and grows from strength to strength. In a way, being first to market has also given it a firm advantage.