The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has released it's annual visitor profile report which depicts expenditures and behavior of Vegas travelers. These reported results may not be totally reflective of the actual situation because a significant proportion of the economic downturn hit the fan in roughly the last quarter of 2008 . Regardless, here are a few of the more important indicators and demographics from the report.
- Average visitors stayed 3.5 nights and 4.5 days in Vegas - 75% of visitors stayed on the strip vs other locales - 57% arrived via ground transportation, 43% by air - Average cost of flight/ accommodation packages = $746.69 - Average lodging cost for an average of 2.1 occupants per room was $101.68 - Average trip expenditure for food and drink was $273.39 - Average cost for local transportation = $59.26 - Average cost for shopping = $121.90 - Average cost for shows = $51.64 - Average cost for sightseeing - $7.12 - Proportion of visitors who gambled = 85% - Average number hours per day gambling = 3.3 - Average gambling budget = $531.98 - Gender proportions were 51% male and 49% female - 80% of visitors were married, 66% were employed, 28% were retired, and 45% were college graduates - mean age of visitors = 50.6 yrs - Proportion of visitors attending any show = 72% - Proportion seeing big-name headliner shows = 18% - Proportion seeing lounge acts = 74% - Proportion from Western US states = 52% - Proportion from California = 28% - Proportion from foreign countries = 15% - Proportion claiming they were "very satisfied" with their trip = 93%
The total number of visitors comprising the sample size for 2008 results was approximately 3600 visitors. Noticeable changes form the previous year indicated vistors were spending less , were a tad older , and were more apt to drive than fly to Vegas.
We've been seeing the signs / numbers and most have been awaiting the announcement of bankruptcy filing by Project City Center. This information was published online by KLAS TV in an online breaking news alert. Their anonymous source for this was from someone within MGM Mirage, which of course serves as the parent company of Project City Center, LLC. The source and the alert indicated that City center may file bankruptcy as soon as tomorrow.
With the recent suit filed by Dubai World, a massive debt load (13 billion plus), and reduced revenue from gaming and most other tourism activities during a poor economy, it's surprising that this hasn't happened earlier. In reality, it may be their only logical survival ticket. It's likely that business will continue as usual if in fact this bankruptcy filing actually occurs. We'll see.
The massive economic woes of MGM Mirage continued today as their partner in the City Center project sued them for "breach of the joint venture pact" that was agreed to in August, 2007. Dubai World's suit against the Vegas based company is asking to be relieved of it's agreement obligations and also seeks unspecified damages. The suit alleges that MGM Mirage mismanaged the City Center project which led to large cost overruns ; the alleged budget at the time of the signed agreement was roughly 7.5 billion and now cost estimates approach 9 billion. Additionally, the suit alleges that MGM MIrage has fallen short on it's total raised financing quota for the project. The casino company's total listed outstanding long term debt has been estimated at 13.5 billion.
In addition to it's debt load, the new lawsuit, and the generally sour tourism and gaming economy, MGM has had to fend off media questions regarding phone calls made by Senator Harry Reid (democratic senator from Nevada and House Majority leader ) to banks for purposes of raising financing for the company. The Republican senator from Nevada also made some calls for the same purpose. Why wouldn't they? MGM Mirage is one of the largest employers in their state and has contributed billions of dollars to the general economy and billions to the state in the form of tax revenue. It appears very reasonable that the elected representatives should make attempts to support companies such as MGM Mirage. Sometimes, the media can't look beyond their noses and take an opportunity to simply shut up.
Regarding MGM- Mirage solutions? I'm no economist or financial analyst but what option besides debt restructuring under bankruptcy filing and protection do they have? I can't see any alternative. Without a huge cash infusion I question the logic of City Center's completion in the current economy anyway. The numbers are just too large to consider anything besides a bankruptcy filing barring some massive cash infusion by an unknown sugar-daddy. Once debt is restructured the business might be able to retain current employees and dig their way out of the quagmire with some time and the eventual recovery of our general economy. I wish them good cards and an eventual return to normality.
They must be doing a few things right at M Resort in light of the crowds and number of iMagine Player's Club signups since their grand opening. Line waits for signups are at least 30 minutes ,usually. As of 3/13/2009, they've enlisted over 50,000 new members to the club. The promoted restaurants which includes the buffet have received rave reviews as well . Thus, to date it appears that Mr. Marnell's professed management philosophies regarding player-friendly conditions and service are en force. Kudos to the M Resort..and continued success.
Will Rogers , the Okie American humorist and showman, would have a ton of material to work with these days. Record depressed numbers of all sorts everywhere , divergent economic forecasters, rampant gloom and doom - isms , politicians on all sides of the spectrum trying to outlie his "colleagues"...Will would have some inspirational and humorous anecdotes to prop us up. Here's a few of his quips, some of which are still very applicable for our present state.
WILL ROGERS - ISMS
- A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries. - An economist's guess is liable to be just as good as anybody else's. - Calvin Coolidge didn't say much , and when he did he didn't say much. - Comedians haven't improved. Nothing has improved but taxes. - Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie.." until you can find a rock. - Diplomats are just as essential to starting a war as soldiers are for finishing it. - Don't gamble ; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it til it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it. - Don't squat with your spurs on. - Everybody is ignorant, only in different subjects. - Good judgement comes from experience, and that comes from bad judgement. - I don't care how little your country is, you got a right to run it like you want to. When the big nations quit meddling, the world will have peace. - If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out? - If you get to thinkin you're a person of some influence, try orderin around someone else's dog. - Income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has. - Never miss a good chance to shutup. - Nothing you can't spell will ever work. - Outside of traffic, there is nothing that has held this country back as much as committees. - So live that you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip. - Take diplomacy out of a war and the thing would fall flat in a week. - The more you read and observe about this politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. - The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket. - There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - There is nothing so stupid as an educated man, if you get off the thing he was educated in. - There's two theories to arguin with a woman. Neither one works. - This country is not where it is today on account of any one man . It is here on account of the real common sense of the Big Normal Majority. - What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds. - Never kick a cowchip on a hot day.
The new M Resort in Henderson recently opened it's doors amid the customary media hoopla typical of new Vegas casino-resorts. For me personally, the most intriguing and encouraging facet of this event is the professed intent of M management to cater their services to patrons. They intend to provide player-friendly comp programs, keep drink and dining venue costs at a reasonable level, offer some casino games with reasonable odds, and attempt to offer personal service to even the low-rollers. Unique! As I've read through many of the news releases and press articles enumerating these vocalized promises from Mr. Marnell, I just kept silently saying to myself.."Go for it!". If this group manages to accomplish a portion of their stated intents while surviving the current economic downturn in the local community, it will be a noteworthy achievement.
On recent trips to Vegas, I've noticed that staff at many of the hotels we've stayed at (MGM Grand, Venetian, Paris) were very accommodating relative to say ..a year ago. The personal service levels appeared improved to me on these recent trips. This approach is partially what Mr. Marnell is talking about. Here's hoping M can attain at least some of their goals in these tough times. Good luck to M.
If you follow Las Vegas news feeds at all, you've likely been exposed to the continual onslaught of the media's implied impending implosion of Sin City... the entire immoral and gluttonous community. We're all routinely inundated with Vegas home foreclosure rates and cheap real estate values, imminent casino-hotel bankruptcies and loan defaults, dipping visitor counts and McCarran traffic levels, historic lows in gaming revenues, 10% local unemployment rates..on and on ad nauseum. It's not that I have any problems with free speech or that the economic indicators are in fact in the toilet, but rather I'm just fed up with hearing about it. Granted, I might perhaps be in the throes of skewed denial, but criminy my ears are bleeding profusely. We know that, fiscally speaking, Las Vegas sucks presently..as it does in most other national communities. I'm also sick of it because I like Vegas and I'm tired of all the ongoing repetitive kicking of the Vegas dead horse. I was semi-outraged when our president jumped up and down on the Vegas carcass , verbally deriding the business convention trade while promoting an economic stimulus plan that has some earmark (blatant pork, actually) elements that have little to do with jump-starting any real people's economies. We can't undo all the assorted errors we personally made or the ones anyone else made, either ; we have to hang in and arrive at solutions by working at it. I'm convinced that this economy we live in is cyclic in nature and times have to be problematic occasionally ; this is obviously one of those times. I'm also convinced that we're all involved in the problem as are our esteemed elected congressional members. We all occasionally suffer from the "I want everything for nothing" syndrome . I'm also undeniably certain that Las Vegas will recover (even if some of the gaming conglomerates do file Chapter 11 tenets) and that the majority of the pool of potential visitors will also swim to safety eventually. I suggest we all try to consider the importance of and value in small favors and small perks that we humanly take for granted when times are good. All I have to do is observe a smile from my granddaughter..thereafter all is not necessarily well but it's better. Now I feel like perusing my numerous Vegas room offers, don't you? We're better off accentuating the positive elements of the Vegas econocrash (like room offers,etc.) , ehh? Hang in there.
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
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.