In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I share some insights from the latest Las Vegas Visitor Profile:
Increasing international visitation has long been a goal of the LVCVA, and the numerous investments the agency has made toward that end continue to bear fruit. In 2007, 12 percent of visitors came from abroad; in real numbers, this accounts for about 4.7 million people. Last year, that percentage jumped to 19 percent, which when factoring in increased visitation—we topped 40 million last year—translated into more than 7.8 million international visitors. That’s a two-thirds increase in seven years.
via Gambling Is No Longer Las Vegas’ Main Attraction | Vegas Seven
Looking at this year’s profile really drives home the demographic and behavioral changes in visitors to Las Vegas.
In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I look at how the Vegas visitor is changing–and what that means:
The big question is, Why do people come to Las Vegas in the first place? Naturally, there are many reasons, so GLS Research, which compiles the profile, asks subjects for the primary purpose of their most recent visit. Having heard so much about how the Strip is about “more than gambling” these days, the trend is surprising: 15 percent of respondents said they came here primarily to gamble—more than three times the 4 percent who said that in 2004.
via A Fresh Study Sheds Light on the Habits of the Vegas Visitor | Vegas Seven
The one constant in Las Vegas is that the visitor is always changing. It’s up to the casinos to evolve to fit emerging demographics without alienating the old.
If you have heard the most recent Vegas Gang podcast, you heard my thoughts on Monte Carlo. In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I elaborate:
If you were born in a gambling city back when that meant you were a little different from everyone else, you grew up vaguely holding Monte Carlo as the platonic ideal of what a gambling town should be: refined, elegant and timeless. Actually visiting the place, though, reveals something quite different.
via In Monte Carlo, Back to the Past | Vegas Seven.
One of the points that struck me is that Monaco is proof that there is life after casino gambling, even for cities that have been historically defined by it. With a trip to Atlantic City last week, I’ve got a lot to consider when it comes to what happens after the gambling gold rush ends.
I don’t know what this signifies, but on my AC trip I saw that the storied Monaco Motel, where I once worked as a desk clerk, assistant night manager, and even occasional night manager, has been demolished. Looks like the plan is to build $1.2 million condos there.
In this week’s Vegas Seven, I’ve got the cover story: a look back on John F. Kennedy’s visits to Las Vegas:
It was a meeting for the ages: the midcentury King of Cool getting together with one of the nation’s fastest-rising political stars. The star of From Here to Eternity and the hero of PT 109. An idol of the pop charts and a Pulitzer Prize winner. And it could only have happened in Las Vegas, in that heady era when Frank Sinatra reigned from the stage of the Sands’ Copa Lounge and everyone, even presidential aspirants, wanted a front-row seat. On February 7, 1960, future President John F. Kennedy got one.
via JFK in Las Vegas | Vegas Seven.
I had to do some real digging for this one, and I’d like to thank Larry Gragg for his help in sharing his citations for articles about Kennedy. If you like, you can learn more about his book Bright Light City right here.
I’m also glad that I get a chance to do long-form pieces like this for Seven–it’s a good bridge between the bi-weekly Green Felt Journals and academic articles for me.
Busy week, so I’m just posting this week’s Green Felt Journal about the EB-5 program, which is changing Las Vegas:
“Invest In Your American Dream,” reads the text next to a photo of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. The words are quickly replaced by “LAS VEGAS EB5 IMMIGRATION CENTER IS YOUR BEST CHOICE,” with a view of the Strip at night, followed by “THE OPPORTUNITY TO OBTAIN U.S. GREEN CARD,” against a pastiche of a billowing American flag with extra stars, the Statue of Liberty and the Capitol building. Then, just to make the message clear, we get “THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE AMERICAN LIFESTYLE,” laid over a skyline that’s definitely not Las Vegas.
via Investing in America | Vegas Seven.
I learned a good deal researching this one…it will be interesting to see where the program goes in the next few years.
I’ve been wanting to write more about Macau, which is such a huge gambling story, for a while, and when given a feature slot for Vegas Seven, jumped on the chance to talk about Macau’s impact on Las Vegas. The result is this week’s cover story:
Back in the early days—2006 or so—American executives signing on for tours of duty in Macau felt like they were stepping into the Wild West. Street violence had subsided since the island’s 1999 reversion to mainland control, but there was still a sense that this was a frontier, a place where anything could happen. And when strangers rode into town—often from the former frontier town of Las Vegas—they went where strangers always go first: the saloon. In this case, that meant the Embassy Bar at what was then the Mandarin Oriental hotel. It was an admittedly upscale saloon, but for an expat executive it was an oasis, a free-port, a place to make crucial first connections and ease into Chinese life. It offered just enough reassuring familiarity, and just enough tantalizing strangeness.
via The History of Our Future | Vegas Seven.
At 4,000 words, this is a long magazine piece for me, but I think you’ll agree it packs a lot of story into those words. The great art really helps. I’m as proud of this as I am of anything I’ve written so far.
A few weeks back I got an email about an event connected to the launch of Virgin America’s thrice-daily LAX-LAS flights. I usually don’t go to those kinds of events–there’s not too much to “cover” outside of photo ops. But I got thinking…wouldn’t it be fun to ask Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson how Vegas might factor in his plans for regular open-to-the-public spaceflights?
That’s the genesis of this feature in Vegas Seven:
Could Las Vegas become a launching pad for a new type of tourist—the kind who’s looking for a thrill ride that can’t be found behind the velvet rope?
In the past five years, ideas that once seemed outlandish—medical tourism, a tech corridor, green energy—have been seriously considered as viable tools for our economic development. Why not space tourism?
via Vegas to the Moon! | Vegas Seven.
I also did a companion piece about a company that’s already flying out of McCarran. It won’t take you to space, but it will get you weightless:
You want to experience the feeling of spaceflight, but you don’t have the 200 grand to fork over to Sir Richard. What to do?
As always in matters of semi-sane wish-fulfillment, Las Vegas can help. The Zero G Weightless Experience—available several times a year at McCarran International Airport—never leaves Earth’s atmosphere, but does let participants leave gravity behind.
How to Get Spacey Without Going to Space
Between this and last week’s video game wagering piece, I’m all about proposing strange new worlds for Las Vegas to consider.
In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at how a British invasion has changed Las Vegas nightlife:
The two biggest demographics in Las Vegas these days seem to be nightclubbers and international visitors. As a bit of anecdotal evidence of the trend, the casinos in development that have stoked the imagination plan to cater either to the former SLS, Gansevoort or the latter Resorts World. So when you get the two together—international visitors who like to party—you know you’re talking gold mine. Add in that they’re from one of the most lucrative feeder markets for Vegas—the United Kingdom—and you’re practically printing cash.
via The British Are Coming! | Vegas Seven.
Interesting that my last two GFJs have been about the influence of other cities (London, Macau) on Las Vegas.
In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at what lies ahead for Las Vegas in 2013. Seem like the right time:
The New Year has its restorative elements—the celebrations, the resolutions, the fresh hopes. But, against the background of the Great Recession, it’s also another occasion to fret about what lies ahead for Las Vegas casinos.
The Strip in 2013: Recovery and Retrenchment | Vegas Seven
Although at first it might seem like there’s not a lot planned, there’s going to be considerable investment and construction on the Strip and Downtown. I look forward to seeing how things shape up.
This week, I’ve got a “Latest Thought” in Vegas Seven where I finally weigh in on whether we should rename McCarran International Airport. I say, why stop there?
There’s been plenty of talk this summer of renaming McCarran International Airport. At first, it seemed like a lot of talk from people who hadn’t thought much before talking: A name change would be neither cheap nor easy, and this isn’t exactly a time when the public coffers are overflowing. But with Sen. Harry Reid recently declaring that he thinks a name change is in order, this is clearly a subject that needs further discussion.
via Name Games | Vegas Seven.
I’m glad I got the chance to have a little fun with this one. It’s certainly not at the top of the list of ideas I’d want to hear about how to keep Las Vegas relevant in post-recession America.