Tag Archives: business travel

Go to Las Vegas- and Go Broke?

A careless remark by President Barack Obama about Las Vegas has triggered a furious backlash from Nevada’s cash-strapped gambling mecca and a key Democratic ally fighting a tough re-election battle in the state. 

Speaking about the economy yesterday at an event in Nashua, New Hampshire, Mr. Obama told Americans: “When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices.” 

The economy of Las Vegas, the world’s most famous gambling and entertainment destination, is heavily dependent on tourism and Las Vegans were already incensed by a crack from Mr. Obama a year ago that companies should not use federal bail out money for trips to the city.   The city is still reeling from that comment, trying to keep bookings and revenues up on conventions and other events. 

Mr. Obama’s latest remark about Las Vegas prompted a swift and angry retort from Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, who is fighting an extremely uphill battle to win re-election in Nevada, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the U.S. – a whopping 13 per cent.

Mr. Obama hurriedly dispatched a letter to Mr. Reid. “I hope you know that during my Town Hall today, I wasn’t saying anything negative about Las Vegas,” he wrote. 

Oscar Goodman, the Mayor of Las Vegas and an independent, also got into the fray, raising his voice and describing President Obama as “a real slow learner” who has a “psychological hang-up” about Las Vegas. 

Mr. Goodman added that this time an apology from Mr. Obama wouldn’t be enough. “I’ll do everything I can to give him the boot.” 

Last year, Mr. Obama apologized for his prior gaffe and during a visit to Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas said that it was good to get out of Washington and “there’s nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week.” 

Repercussions surrounding the current incident are not nearly over.  In a couple of weeks, Mr. Obama is planning another visit to Las Vegas, which surely will cause sparks to fly anew.

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Study Says Business Travel to Las Vegas Stimulates the Economy

At a time when companies are scaling back travel and attended costs, a new study shows it pays to invest in travel. It’s not only a win for those businesses, but a win for Las Vegas, which banks on those travel dollars. 

Las Vegas is not only the entertainment capital of the world, but it has long been the top destination for conventions, meetings, and trade shows which brings in an estimated $8 billion annually. That is until now. 

“When economy took a dip and there was some bashing of meetings by some federal officials, it really hurt Las Vegas,” said Cathy Tull with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Association. 

Las Vegas saw a 26-percent drop in convention travelers this year compared to last. But there’s hope things will soon turn around, thanks to a new study. 

Adam Sacks of Oxford Economics, a global research firm, has established a clear link between business travel and business growth. “For every dollar a company spends on business travel, incrementally that drives $12.50 in revenue and almost $4 in profits,” he said. 

The study simply states that business travel will stimulate the American economy. The study also points out that for the average U.S. business that does not travel in the first year sees a 17-percent drop in profits. 

And that’s not a chance business owners like Mike Weeks gamble on. “When you specialize like I do in personal injury attorneys and you are looking for the premiere firms, you have to go where they go,” he said. Weeks owns an advertising company and is in Las Vegas for a four-day convention to network and stimulate business– which is what the LVCVA says corporations should keep doing in this economy.

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Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Opens Gigantic New Meeting Space

Bad economy be darn.  Caesars Palace opened 110,000 square feet of new convention and meeting spaces on July 13, despite an economic downturn that has Las Vegas convention attendance dropping double digits, equating to 2,441 fewer meetings held this year than last. 

The convention area was part of a $1 billion expansion project of Caesars Palace that boosts the property’s total meeting space to 320,000 square feet. 

Harrah’s Entertainment in January announced it was postponing construction of the planned 660-room Octavius Tower, but would work to continue the convention area. 

The new space is the largest in Las Vegas for Harrah’s Entertainment.  The company’s other properties range in size form 160,000 square feet at the Rio, where the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is held annually, to 25,000 square feet at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. 

Caesars Palace officials expect the new space will permit it better to compete with similarly sized high-end space at the Bellagio, Encore, and Wynn Las Vegas.

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President Obama Makes Tracks to ‘City of Excess’

It must not be a bad business move anymore to attend a junket in the City of Excess. 

President Barack Obama is planning to visit Las Vegas on May 26, headlining a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. 

It will be Obama’s first visit to Nevada since being elected president.   

Although it’s not known whether the president will have a public event while he is in Southern Nevada, a political firestorm and public outcry was created in February when President Obama announced in his speech that companies that receive taxpayer bailout money shouldn’t use it party in Las Vegas. 

The White House has been mum on the details of the president’s visit, but Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley says she expects Obama to talk about the importance of leisure and business travel. 

“I believe that he’s going to be using that opportunity to say…that it’s part of the American dream, this travel, and encourage people not only to do leisure travel, which Las Vegas is famous for, but business travel as well,” Berkley said last week from the House floor. 

It’s also not known if Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will be scheduling a face-to-face pow-wow with the president after the mayor requested a formal retraction from him after hearing the president’s speech statements.

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Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Delays Convention Center Renovations

An $890 million planned Las Vegas Convention Center renovation that was once deemed to be vital for the Las Vegas tourism industry and economy is very likely to be put on official hold. lasvegasconventioncenter

On Thursday, the LVCVA said they would seek to suspend the project at least to the middle of 2010. 

LVCVA chairman and Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman called the delay practical, sighting the declining room tax revenue in Clark County, the authority’s primary income source, and other economic declines. 

The original convention center expansion proposal called for dramatic upgrades to the Las Vegas Convention Center’s façade and common spaces.  It would have increased the gross square footage from 3.2 million square feet to 3.8 million square feet that would have increased critical high demand convention areas including available meeting spaces, restaurants, food service, and taxi spaces. 

Jeremy Aguero of the economics research firm Applied Analysis said the suspension is an unfortunate reflection of the state of the economy.  In 2007, he prepared a report that said without improvements to the convention center, Las Vegas would lose $5 billion in convention-related economic activity. 

Las Vegas is the nation’s top location for trade shows and conventions.  It hosts 44 of the nation’s top 200 conventions and tradeshows, according to Tradeshow Week magazine.  Orlando is a distant second with 24. 

Goodman says he’s hopeful that work on the convention center renovation can resume in 2010.

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