How the reopening of Las Vegas is shaping up for casinos

| By contenteditor
As Las Vegas returns to business, Corey Padveen of t2 Marketing takes stock of the city's progress towards normality.
Las Vegas

On 1 June, 2021, Las Vegas officially reopened – at least to the local population until global travel restrictions are completely lifted. There has been a lot of debate about whether pent up demand across the country would lead to a surge in traffic to the Strip, or if that position was overly optimistic, with reservations about travel stifling a successful reopening. 

Now, just over a month later, we can look at what has worked, what needs improvement, and what we can expect as more of the country – and world – looks to return to normal.

The lead up

While travel has long been a point of discussion with regards to improving conditions around Covid-19 in America, Las Vegas has been a particular focus, for some glaringly obvious reasons. 

The city welcomes tens of millions of visitors every year, and the backbone of the economy is the money those visitors bring in. So, when travel shut down, Las Vegas experienced a system shock that far outweighed many other tourist destinations both in the US and around the world. 

As such, it would make sense that as vaccine rollout improved and cases began lowering enough to think about travel, Vegas was a popular topic of conversation.

Many, myself included, discussed the communications angle that the city and operators would need to adopt in order to attract the same visitors that graced the town in years prior. In these conversations, I wondered just how much demand there was, and whether or not that would convert into a major surge in visits upon reopening. 

As restrictions were slowly lifted, marketing of the properties focused on the safety measures in place, as well as the efforts casinos have been taking to get employees and their families vaccinated. As more optimism about the situation in America began to take shape, that messaging shifted to one of excitement, playing on the nostalgia of visiting Las Vegas in the hopes that it would rekindle the desire to visit the city. 

Now, we know that this approach was a success, as Vegas has seen a steady (and rapid) increase in travel, with a long-awaited surge occurring over the Fourth of July weekend. 

The grand opening

Gambling revenue in the first month of full reopening has hit an all-time high; that’s a great start. Visitor levels have also increased at a steady double-digit rate for several months now, with the most significant increase happening in June. 

The Fourth of July weekend saw massive events, including a major fireworks display celebrating the reopening of the world’s largest entertainment destination organized by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Bars, restaurants, casino floors, and clubs have been packed wall-to-wall with visitors eager to get back to normal, and messaging celebrating the success of the reopening has been the template for communications teams at every property in town.

Resorts World, the first new construction in a decade, has also opened and includes features and amenities that are aimed to attract new visitors to the city, particularly from an international audience. With major events kicking off the property on Fourth of July weekend, Resorts World has made it clear that its focus is entertainment first, and the slate of productions the property has been promoting shows that this is the angle it intends to stick with moving forward. 

Overall, at 100% capacity and the demand outpacing the supply, a fast rebound – much faster than post-2008 – is something we can expect.

The next steps

Major shows from Cirque du Soleil are slated for reopening, and several notable buffets are opening their doors as well. There is clearly momentum and properties are moving quickly to capitalise on that. However, news of recent spikes in cases and hospitalisations means that a return to the focus on guest and staff safety in property messaging might be right around the corner. 

Nevada now has the highest rate of new Covid-19 infections in the country. While that likely won’t curb the plans of the majority of travelers looking to visit the Strip, it certainly means that those more cautious travelers might need a little more convincing. The same is true of international visitors, who have been keeping an eye on the situation, as travel slowly resumes.

There is no doubt that properties have gone above and beyond in both the efforts made to keep guests and employees safe, as well as showcasing that through strategic communications with prospective visitors in the lead up to reopening. 

Now, the question becomes whether properties will leave it to the state to institute protocols, or if they will act first in an effort to ease any tensions that may arise from concerned prospective visitors. 

It’s a decision that will certainly be weighed heavily as these new numbers come out, but what is clear is that the estimates suggesting pent up demand were correct, if not underestimated. 

Corey Padveen is a partner at t2 Marketing International and the author of Marketing to Millennials for Dummies. He is also a contributing author to Digital Marketing All-in-One for Dummies.

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