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40 Million Reasons Las Vegas Has A Positive Outlook

Jeremy Aguero, Consultant Applied Analysis
Jeremy Aguero, Consultant Applied Analysis

Jeremy Aguero from Applied Analysis provided analysis of the latest economic trends, key data points, and implications for community and business leaders going forward in the 2014 Las Vegas Perspective publication, a comprehensive economic and community resource in its 34th year.

Areas of focus included population, employment, real estate and consumer spending, just to name a few.

In March 2014, Las Vegas welcomed 3.7 million visitors. Up 4.3 percent from the same month of the prior year, March's visitor count was the highest ever recorded for a single month. Arguably more important is the fact that visitor volume for the past 12 months was 40.2 million, the highest annual count in southern Nevada's history.

The leisure and hospitality industry employs 273,000 workers in Nevada, roughly 1 in every 3. The industry contributes a similar share of wage and salary payments and combined economic output. The industry bears a disproportionate share of state and local taxes, allowing Nevada to be one of only three states in the nation without a corporate or personal income tax. Important efforts toward economic diversification notwithstanding, southern Nevada has benefited, and continues to benefit from being hyper-focused on being the world's greatest destination city.

Las Vegas has compelling competitive advantages, including 150,000 hotel rooms and the nation's 10th busiest airport. That said, with 40 million annual visitors, Las Vegas has had to become all things to all people, which is clearly reflected in our changing visitor profile.

Respecting that convention volumes remain well below pre-recession levels, convention attendance was up 20.5 percent in March. Conventions and tradeshows like CONEXPO-CON/AGG; MAGIC International and CES are posting record attendance levels, helping to push occupancy rates back above 90 percent and room rates to levels not seen since 2008.

Notably, 15 percent of visitors report that they are coming to Las Vegas for the first time, the lowest “first trip” level reported during the past five years. This reflects an uptick in repeat visitation, as the typical traveler now reports 6.4 trips to Vegas during the past five years. Although only 15 percent of visitors report that the primary purpose of their visit was "to gamble”, 71 percent of them placed a bet during their trip.

The average visitor was 45.8 years old, a demographic factor that has been skewing younger in recent years. Notably, however, nearly 80 percent of visitors were married, 50 percent reported incomes of $70,000 or more, and they tended to be more highly educated than the population at large.

One in four visitors was from a foreign country, the highest level ever and a notable success for Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which has been targeting lucrative international markets. One in seven travelers visits nearby places, such as the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam or Lake Mead. About two percent will play golf and a slightly higher share will visit a spa.

While 97 percent of visitors decided where to stay before they arrived, 72 decided what shows they would see and 60 percent decided where to gamble after they arrived in Las Vegas. In fact, the typical visitor traveler now visits nearly six casino-hotels per trip, suggesting Las Vegas' critical mass is also an important competitive advantage.

You would be hard pressed to find another destination market in the country reporting similar quantity and diversity.

Respecting Las Vegas' remarkable staying power, one visitor statistic remains a concern. In 2013, 89 percent of visitors were “very satisfied” with their current trip to Las Vegas. This was the lowest level reported during the past five years and five points below the 94 percent reported in 2012. We have 40 million reasons to ensure that each visitor's experience exceeds expectations, and we would be well served to make certain the decisions we make today will keep them coming back tomorrow.

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