North America

Tour Operators Agree: "V" is for Value in Vegas

written by | Posted on March 1st, 2009

In these not-so-rosy economic times, tour operators are the one-stop shop for travel to Las Vegas, offering a packaged vacation that includes everything from a Cirque show inclusion to dining credits.

Las Vegas might be one of the world’s hottest tourism destinations, but it’s taking hits in visitor numbers and hotel tax tallies, in hotel occupancy figures and even in ADR (average daily rate). But while the city slims down and gets its figure back, room rates are reduced, value-adds are on the rise, lines and crowds are contracting and Las Vegas is getting just that much more attractive to visitors looking for value and a good time, says Tom Luddington, v.p. of product development for GOGO Worldwide Vacations.

good deals to be had “Vegas is back on top of the charts for agents looking to drive inquiries to their shops,” says Luddington. “With some airfares that are the same as they were two years ago coupled with value at every star level, Vegas appeals to most any budget looking for virtually any experience. If their clients want to go, despite these economic times, Vegas is ready and willing to please.”

Luddington describes a flight he was taking from Newark to Vegas. He was sitting next to a well-traveled gentleman who was returning to Vegas after having been there three years prior on business for the first time. “He had responded to an ‘unbelievable offer’ to stay at a five-star property at a $200 nightly rate that came with a $200 food and beverage credit for his 2-night stay. He was going to have dinner at SW (Wynn) and then see KA, the Cirque show at MGM Grand.

“I’m happy to say that Vegas is pacing ahead of our traditionally strong destinations, including Caribbean and Mexico,” says Luddington. “Agents can recommend Vegas for almost any vacation experience requested. From ‘sun and sand’ to Broadway shows. In between, you have golf, shopping, world-class dining, nightlife, spa…and now, it’s a very affordable escape.”

A sample GOGO “On the Go” Deal from Miami to Vegas starts at $355 and includes roundtrip airfare, hotel transfers & three nights at the four-star Monte Carlo Resort & Casino. Bonuses include two free buffets, two free spa passes, two free drinks at the Monte Carlo Brew Pub, and $10 free play & food court coupons. The company also offers a land-only package for a mid-April stay at Encore for four nights for $437 pp dbl. That rate would include a host of giveaways for the client, such as roundtrip airport transfers, a discount coupon booklet, half-price tickets to La Cage aux Folles, a free tour to Primm, and a Planet Hollywood gift card.

Chris Ames, director, product and sales, US Airways Vacations, is on the road during these busy booking months aggressively selling the city through the US Airways Vacations roadshow. Some of the company’s best agents head to Las Vegas each February, courtesy of US Airways for a fun-packed weekend that includes scavenger hunt contests, site inspections and lots of partying. On the consumer side, USAV is running a heavy and balanced marketing campaign that includes print, radio and online advertising, and package discounts with gift card values.

“The deals have been quite fluid as of late,” says Ames. “There are many that have sold extremely well, but are no longer available or soon to end. Rest assured there will be more to take their place though.”

US Airways Vacations runs regular Las Vegas promotions, such as two free tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show, or $50 off the top plus a $50 gift card when booking with Mastercard. Because they are call-to-action promotions, they have sunsets but new promotions are always in the works. These are in addition to standard packages, such as four nights at Wynn Las Vegas, plus air from Phoenix for a total of $296 pp dbl.

But because US Airways Vacations continuously runs Las Vegas promotions, which are updated daily, Ames suggests agents regularly check the website at usairwaysvacations.com under the “specials” tab. Promotions are updated almost daily.

Allegiant Air, a Las Vegas-based airline and tour packager that serves secondary cities with a mission to bring visitors to Las Vegas through very affordable fares and rates, claims only a softening of rates to accommodate the current economy and virtually no change in the number of customers who want to come to Las Vegas through an Allegiant Air package.