Las Vegas Remains Odds-On Favorite

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While Las Vegas’ uber-successful ad campaign stresses that mum’s the word on what happens there, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (LVCVA) counterpunches that mantra by spreading the word that the destination is a kaleidoscope hotspot where the sky’s the limit.

Emphasizing education and updates for industry partners, Vegas has for the fourth time straight reaped Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best USA Destination for Travel Agent Support. “Obviously, we’re very excited, thrilled and humbled that Recommend readers chose us for this award,” says Art Jimenez, LVCVA’s sr. director of leisure sales. “It hits home because it verifies that our programs are resonating with travel agents.”

Jimenez notes that Las Vegas sees 80 percent repeat business. And in a destination celebrated for constantly upping the ante, travel partner updates are paramount. “We have so many good programs that help us get the word out, like sales seminars, FAM trips and our online Vegas Certified program,” he explains.

Agents can earn Las Vegas Travel Trade Certification by completing 12 test modules online, thus enhancing their status as a go-to authority on Vegas and its behemoth offerings. Jimenez adds that the program will be reformatted to make it an even stronger resource.

“We’ll also continue our Cash in on Vegas booking incentive with our national wholesale travel partners in 2010,” he notes. The promotion encourages agents to sell packages for a chance to win cash prizes.

While year-to-date counts were down 5.8 percent through August, the destination’s 82.7 percent occupancy tally exceeds the national average by some 25 points. “That seems to be the case over the last 10 years, even as we’ve added inventory,” Jimenez says. “We rely so much on our travel agent and wholesaler partners to help with this.”

Jimenez reports that 2009 will go out with a bang with the mid-December opening of Aria Resort & Casino, a 4,004-room “urban metropolis” at MGM Mirage’s CityCenter that will host Cirque du Soleil’s new show, “Viva ELVIS.” Incidentally, CityCenter will also be home to the Vdara Hotel and the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas (both opening this month).

Then next year, there’s Wayne Newton’s return to a remodeled Tropicana, Garth Brooks headlining 15 weeks a year at Encore and legendary guitarist Carlos Santana signing on as resident artist at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

“And we’re aggressively promoting our pool events at hotels,” says Jimenez. “Pools are basically becoming nightclubs in the daytime.” It’s just more of the unexpected you should always expect in Las Vegas, a perpetual hotspot.

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