Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Reduced cost times to visit Las Vegas

When planning Vegas trips on a budget, hopefully potential visitors have some options / flexibility as to when they can choose to travel . Some don't have those options due to pre-set vacation windows with their employment and/ or other constraints. If you have some flexibility , there are some basic supply and demand factors that significantly influence travel costs . For the most part, it's cheaper to hit Vegas when it's less crowded; this factor reduces the demand for airfare and rooms and generally leads to more cost-saving opportunities. Price swings are usually greater for rooms than for airfare and generally we suggest you reserve a place to stay before reserving a flight (exceptions might be one of those fantastic "package" deals involving both rooms and the flight.)
Room rates are routinely cheaper during weekdays (Sunday through Thursday) than on weekends; overall, the least
expensive days for airfare are Wednesdays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays (in order). Thus, midweek arrivals can result in significant
savings if your schedule permits. Seasonally, winter (November through February) is the least crowded with December being
the overall least crowded month according to the Las Vegas Convention Visitor Authority (LVCVA). Most of us are saving and preparing for Christmas and this reduces Vegas trips. There are some excellent room deals after the National Finals Rodeo in early December through Christmas day; room rates escalate during the week between Christmas and New Years. There's nothing economical about room rates on New Year's Eve..300,000 plus people force high demand and high prices. If you just have to go to Vegas then, book 6 months in advance if possible; you can possibly get the room you want but it'll still be pricey particularly at a strip property. The week after New Years day often offers some great room rates. Thereafter, some significant conventions begin to increase room occupancy and rates. We suggest you obtain a list of scheduled conventions( ie Consumer Electronics Show in January; National Association of Broadcasters in April) and special events (ie Nascar, National Finals Rodeo, Superbowl) and where these are specifically hosted or sponsored; again, demand for rooms and thus prices escalate when major events hit town, particularly on the strip. The downtown and off-strip casino-hotels have generally less convention traffic and they'd offer better rates at these times( and most other times,too) generally speaking. You can obtain a list of conventions/events from the LVCVA website @ "http://www.lvcva.com" ; if you can avoid the major convention crowds you'll be able to obtain generally lower rates. Weather-wise, spring and fall are optimal times to visit for comfort; average daily visitor counts historically are higher in spring than fall; overall lower room rates can be found in the fall and is a great time to be in Vegas. March is the busiest month in Sin City (110,000 per day in 2008). If you can stand the literal heat,
often it's possible to obtain great room rate deals in July and/or August; hell, just stay indoors and enjoy the AC. Other important holidays include Thanksgiving (not busy) ; Halloween,Labor Day, and Memorial Day are all huge visitor draws.
If you're a gambler ( you don't have to be a whale / high roller) and you've signed up at the casino-hotel websites and are a player's club member, you might possibly receive free or reduced - rate room offers. One could theoretically plan an entire
trip around such offers if they're representative of significant cost savings ; they often are. This is particularly true
presently due to the state of the economy as the casino properties are all scrambling for patrons. Many so-called
"low-rollers" are obtaining e-mail and mail offers with other incentives attached because of reduced occupancy and visitors in
Las Vegas. Of course, utilizing these offers assumes we can afford to go at all. Consider these if they apply to your situation.
If you have no such offers but are a member of player's clubs , attempt to book direct with a given property / property group
and mention that you're a player's club member; depending on the hotel, you might be pleasantly surprised at the rate quote.
Of course if you've accumulated a significant number of player's club points on your account, you can apply these to room bills
at most properties.
Regardless of when you choose to act a fool in Vegas, attempt to plan well in advance if at all possible. Generally, if you have a specific time window defined for a trip, room rates between now and then will usually increase. Research your options
well ahead of the intended itinerary and you can certainly save some travel costs; when and how matters !
As many of you are aware, there's a plethora of Vegas travel ,hotel, and airline websites. Most of the casinos these days
have their own "Best Rate Guarantee" on room rates and often can offer best rates when compared to the travel sites; you should consider booking direct as a part of your trip planning in our opinion. MGM Mirage and Harrah's properties will offer
a 10% bonus if you can find a better room rate quote than their own offers (some exceptions). We recommend the following airline / travel info or booking websites to obtain the best deal when considering Vegas trip timing:
1. http://www.kayak.com ; excellent info comparative site for flights/ hotels; routine alert service
2. http://www.southwest.com; routinely offers lower fares to Vegas; sign up for "Ding" service to your email
3. http://www.southwestvacations.com; package deals, reasonable rates
4. http://www.priceline.com ; bidding site; if your bid is accepted, you're joined at the hip with the deal; research!
5. http://www.hotwire.com' ; alert services for defined trip;
6. http://www.farecast.com ; airfare watchsite ; alerts you when flights expected to increase/ decrease
7. http://www.travelaxe.com ; hotel rate comparative site; excellent source

To summarize, key considerations for timing of Vegas trips for reduced costs are:
1. Flexibility of schedule
2. Be aware of the timing of lower historical visitor counts (supply and demand for flights/ rooms); winter low, spring high
3. Plan well in advance; research options; peruse hotel-casino websites as early and often as possible
4. Obtain convention and events schedule listings; avoid huge convention / event dates (if you prefer reduced costs)
5. Midweek arrivals are cheaper (rooms and flights)
6. Sign up on property/ property group (ie MGM Mirage, Harrah's, Stations casinos,etc.) websites and join player's clubs
(comped / reduced rate rooms and other incentives ; partially due to present economy)
7. Currently booking directly with property is advantageous vs travel websites; Use Kayak, Southwest,Priceline and Travelaxe as
outside starter sites; compare with hotel websites; they offer Best Rate Guarantees now in Vegas
8. Off-strip generally less expensive; if you can stand it
9. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are not busy ; New Years is personified insanity; Labor day, Memorial Day, and
Halloween are busy
10. Costs aside, go to Vegas when you damned well feel like it.

Cheers..
Chuck60

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Mostly Useless (and approximate) Las Vegas Facts

1. Number of Las Vegas citizens   500,000
2. Number of Clark County residents   1,500,000
3. Year first casino licensed   1931
4. Number of slot machines in Vegas   200,000
5. Number of annual Vegas visitors   40,000,000 (and dropping)
6. Number of licensed gambling entities   1700
7. Hours per day average visitor gambles   4
8. Annual state gaming revenue   9 billion (and dropping)
9. Average gambling budget per trip   560  (and dropping)
10. Mean price per acre in valley   161,000.00
11. Price per acre on the Strip   11,000,000.00
12. Number of  hotel rooms   137,000 +
13. Number of pillowcases washed at MGM daily   15,000
14. Number of doors at MGM  18,000 
15. Annual no. toilet paper rolls used at Bally's   1 million
16. Lucky The Clown marquee sign at Circus Circus has
      1232 fluorescent bulbs, 14,498 incandescent bulbs, and
      3/4 mile of neon tubing light  (no wonder they're replacing
      it!)
17. In good times, Excalibur goes through over 44,000 
      Cornish game hens, 15 thousand pounds of hamburger
      meat, and 4200 pounds of prime rib monthly
18. Caesar's Palace has used 2 million plus maraschino 
      cherries, 11 thousand ounces of caviar, 2 million ounces
      of tomato juice, and close to 600 thousand ounces of
      vodka yearly (bloody mary winner?)
19. Mandalay Bay has 5,300 palm trees and their wave pool
      has a capacity of 1,640,270 gallons of water
20. Average nightly room rate  119.00 (and dropping)
21. Average number of Vegas weddings per day   300+
22. Number of golf courses  37
23. Miles of neon tubing on the Strip and Downtown  15,000
24. State's nationwide rank in gold production  1st
25. Cost of Nevada marriage license   35.00
26. Average cost of filing for divorce  450.00
27. Average length of stay for visitors    3.7 days
28. Number of hosted conventions annually  3750
29. The electric bill to operate the Luxor pyramid beam is
      approximately 55.00 per hour.
30. Las Vegas has 17 of the world's 20 largest hotels   

"WHERE'S MY WALLET , ETHEL!? "

Just a cautionary tip when in Vegas.. there are active
pickpockets all over town. I experienced this first-hand
and came within 10 seconds of losing my cash stash last July
while visiting one of those upper end joints on the strip.

I was gambling significantly at a video poker machine, unabashedly slipping C-notes in them. Somebody had been
observing my wagering behavior. I was happily winning at the time and my cautionary tendencies regarding my bankroll
money went south and out the window.

A lady approached me from behind as I played and was all aglow with my run of good luck. She initiated a conversation about nothing and anything . I was concentrating on proper VP strategy and responding to her comments with a lot of "yeah-yeahs". I was fortunate enough to get ahead on the machine again and I cashed out. I had a satchel (I normally never gamble under those conditions) with me that had assorted trip stuff in it. The satchel presence and the relatively high denomination coin-in amount collectively screamed " please rob me!" I placed my wallet in the satchel along with the machine cash-out tickets and proceeded to reconnect with my family and head to our room.

I had developed a sense of cautionary unease as I mulled over the contact with the effusively talkative woman at the VP machine. My senses told me that something about that encounter was skewed, although at the time I didn't know what it was and I wasn't bleeding profusely..yet. My group then proceeded to meander through a very crowded slot machine aisle and some other 6th, 7th, or 8th sense that vaguely detected an impersonal yet succinct encroachment into my personal space kicked in. Instinctively, I immediately dug into the satchel to locate my wallet and it was gone. I then immediately turned around and backtracked about ten feet (a matter of maybe 3 seconds, tops) as my endogenous adrenaline kicked in. I'm not sure that my hair wasn't on fire briefly.

I then spotted my wallet (and life) in a woman's hand who was playing a slot machine. I walked straight at her and demanded it post-haste in a tone that screamed seriousness. I immediately grabbed the wallet and called for security. The woman claimed she picked it up off the floor and so did the man (her accomplice) behind her, both vowing that they were planning to remit it to the security desk. My svelte ass they were.

This team of thieves including the woman who was all goony-googoo at the VP machine were pros. I have to claim part of the blame for the openly careless manner I had displayed with my money. They were held by security and the eye-in-the-sky tapes were to be reviewed.

The good thing is I didn't lose a cent because my peripheral senses kicked in immediately and they didn't have time to bury the evidence ( perhaps they weren't the best of pros?). Take heed folks..these people are everywhere in Vegas. Know where your cash is at all times; take precautions to protect it, don't flaunt it around carelessly as I did, and if you sense something is awry while gambling trust your instincts.

Distractions from one member of a team of thieves is a common MO. Store your gambling session monies in a front pants pocket or in one of those god-awful front-loaded fanny packs (pride be damned). The lesson I learned here after several years of Vegas gambling experiences turned out to be one of the most valuable for me personally.


Cheers..
Chuck60