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VIP treatment for locals with new casino deals

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The Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority and Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce are finally teaming up to treat locals the way they should be treated: like Las Vegas royalty.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has partnered with the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce to sweeten the pot for locals during tough economic times.

The two organizations today announced their “Stay and Play Here” campaign to target locals with deals. The campaign’s Web site features special offers for locals in Las Vegas, as well as Mesquite, Laughlin, Boulder City and Primm. Organizers said using a Nevada driver’s license as a “VIP card,” locals will have access to deals on show tickets, spa treatments, nightclub admission, restaurant offers and hotel discounts.

“There’s no better time for locals to take a break in their own backyard,” said Kara Kelley, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. “What’s really great about this, too, is you have an opportunity to support the local economy as well.”

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Vince Albert, LVCVA’s vice president of public affairs, said planning for the campaign with resort partners started at the beginning of the year and was launched in conjunction with the start of the summer season. A radio and print advertising campaign will hit during National Tourism Week, which is May 9-17.

“The people who live here are truly the ambassadors for Las Vegas, so we’re asking you as ambassadors to go out, have a great time, enjoy Las Vegas and stay and play here for the next few months,” LVCVA President Rossi Ralenkotter said.

The Web site includes more than 100 bundled offers with participation from major gaming companies, including MGM Mirage, Harrah’s, Las Vegas Sands, Station Casinos, Boyd Gaming, Wynn Resorts, Palms and others. Albert said the LVCVA expects more offers to come when word gets out.

“I think we all need to believe in our city and get positive again,” Palms owner George Maloof said. “We need to get people excited again to live here and that will create a good buzz for tourists who come in. They’ll hear about locals having fun and that’s really important.”

Maloof said at his resort it’s easy to get locals into clubs and restaurants but more of a challenge to get them to stay the night.

“Our local business has stayed pretty strong through all of this but this [campaign] is a way to get local people to stay overnight and take advantage of our rooms,” Maloof said. “Everyone has a few extra rooms to sell right now.”

Cindy Kiser Murphey, president of New York-New York, said although her resort doesn’t come to mind as a locals resort, she hopes the deals, room renovations and corner location at Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana will act as a gateway to the Strip.

“We like to call this the pre-boom period,” Murphy said. “We think that it’s a great time for locals to come down and experience the Strip in ways they don’t normally think about doing.”

Station Casinos, a company already targeting local customers, is offering deals such as 30 percent off spa treatments, rooms starting at $50 and a choice of two gift cards to use at its properties.

The company has seen increased competition with new locals resorts like M Resort. Station Casinos is hoping the deals will bring in even more locals with more of an incentive to spend.

“The visitation to our properties is pretty robust but the problem is, like what everyone else is experiencing, customers are cutting back, being a lot more conservative, so our average spend per visit is a little bit less than what we would like it to be,” Kelley said.

Like Maloof, Kelley said casino executives are hoping the deals will draw locals to their rooms, especially during the summer months when there are additional unfilled rooms.

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