Why Destinations Need to Reinvent Themselves Constantly

The Bellagio Fountains shows in Las Vegas at dawn.

Skift Take

Las Vegas works hard at attracting business events of all shapes and sizes. It doesn't just rely on its impressive facilities, it's constantly reinventing its offering.

Las Vegas has a lot of things going for it. Its hotel capacity is second to none, with multiple convention centers hosting hundreds of meetings annually. More than 5 million attendees come through town annually for business events.

Having facilities in place to host meetings is only part of the equation. The city also works extremely hard at luring all sorts of business events to Nevada. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) uses its $830 million+ budget to attract customers. Working with planners plays an important part in this.

“We have a faster cycle for renovation than anywhere else in the world, because of the volume of visitors that we handle on an annual basis,” said Lisa Messina, chief sales officer at the LVCVA.

Vegas is investing big, with major venue upgrades. These include the all-new Sphere, Formula One Grand Prix paddock site, and a $600 million renovation of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). Major media events and new venues are sure to spark ideas in every event professional’s mind. But they may also spark fears of price increases and limited availability.

Beyond the marquee events and show-stopping venues, Las Vegas needs to keep all meeting products fresh and planners engaged. According to Messina, Vegas does this by listening to its customers.

Keeping Returning Customers Happy

One of Vegas’ top clients is the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, which puts on the annual CES trade show. It attracted more than 115,000 attendees in 2023. At its peak, 185,000 took part in 2017. This is the type of show that fills up the city. It’s also the type of show that is always looking for more space for exhibits and side events.

While CTA is a happy customer, it is constantly courted by other destinations. Yet, it stays loyal to Las Vegas, and there are many reasons for that. “Whether it’s the convention authority, the restaurants, the unions, Las Vegas is always looking to make the experience better for the visitors, and visitors are appreciated,” said Gary Shapiro, CTA, CEO.

Shapiro is a fan of the city that has hosted CES for more than 40 years. In 2010 the CTA and LVCVA partnered to make the LVCC an official World Trade Center (WTC) site. Las Vegas is the only destination in North America with a WTC designation on its convention center. This designation is an example of some of the things Vegas does to attract international business delegations.

CES is also involved in an effort to pressure Congress to loosen the ‘perimeter rule‘. The number of flights from Reagan National Airport (DCA) to cities outside a 1,250-mile radius is currently limited. Shapiro feels change this would strongly benefit CES and business travel to Vegas in general.

Ultimately CES knows it needs the support of Vegas to continue to thrive. “I don’t think that trade show world understands how delicate these events really are because all we own is a name, a reputation, a mailing list, and some contracts for dates,” said Shapiro.

Skift Meetings Destination Innovation Summit Banner

Messina and Shapiro will continue this conversation in a session titled “The Ins and Outs of Reinventing a Destination” at the Skift Meetings Destination Experience Summit on August 16 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register now to be part of the discussion.