Business survival and prosperity in Las Vegas is all about having the proper branding that is married with alluring, can’t-live-without content, and putting it together to provide the visitor great value. The trick is to get the visitors coming in droves to Las Vegas. Drawing the attention and attracting interest is one of the major joint charters of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and their advertising firm, R & R Partners, long-famous for coining the oft-chanted ad slogan: “What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.” But saying it is so is one thing, doing it has been challenged as of late.
Crimping their plans, Las Vegas has received some notorious flap over their weak controls on charitable spending. The Las Vegas Conventions and Visitors Authority CEO Rossi Ralenkotter inappropriately approved a $25,000 donation to the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, while Ralenkotter later accepted a humanitarian award from the group. But Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman stepped up to the plate on the matter on January 13 and promptly fixed the loophole. Future charitable donations are now to be specifically identified as line-item budgets and group approved before any expenditures. Additionally, the authority changed their policy to ensure multiyear contracts with vendors don’t have a set spending level, and put in controls and greater scrutiny to prevent any vendor overpayments, as was alleged with R&R Partners.
Although the authority has recently spent $2.5 million on their “Vegas Bound” advertising program to have Cranberrry Gap, Texas folks take a break from their ordinary lives and head to our land of neon lights – which, the authority says generated for Las Vegas the positive ad exposure coming from nearly 200 online news stories, 100 newspaper stories, and more than 250 television stories – an arduous road to hoe remains to hit their 2009 marketing and advertising campaign goal to increase Las Vegas visitors to 39 million, up from last year’s figures of 37.5 million visitors- a lofty goal considering our economy that is mired in a deep economic recession. And despite the many construction stoppages for planned Las Vegas casinos brought on by our financial crisis, still 13,000 new hotel rooms are slotted to open this year. Filling those rooms with the current trend of reduced visitors will be a challenging proposition, to say the least.
Undaunted by the risk, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is forging ahead and planning to spend an additional $10.5 million the first quarter of this year in television, print, and online advertising to attempt to stem the visitor bleeding, and, hopefully, turn the tide around for businesses. The ads are focused on specific show, attraction, and resort marketing tactics, which, in the past they have left up to the individual properties to promote, while the authority typically spent advertising dollars to build the “Las Vegas” brand image. It’s a risk, but one many in the authority and the City of Las Vegas see calculated and necessary in order to try to survive.