Las Vegas visitors in 2021 were younger and spending more

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Las Vegas saw a much younger, more spendthrift average visitor in 2021, although fewer people said they came to the Strip to gamble.

This is one of the takeaways from the 2021 Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Visitor Profile Survey, which also found that tourists were much more ethnically diverse than in previous years and that many had brought their young children.

Meanwhile, more than half of those surveyed said their main purpose for coming to Las Vegas was “vacation and fun,” and they booked their trip between a week and a month before arriving.

Yet even with nearly a quarter fewer visitors than Las Vegas in 2019 before the pandemic, gaming revenue hit an all-time high of $7.07 billion on the Strip last year.

LVCVA vice president of research Kevin Bagger said the study, conducted by the tourism agency and GLS Research, was going to be very different from pre-pandemic years. The study was conducted between March and December, when COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and protocols overshadowed the Strip and the pandemic curtailed some entertainment options.

Additionally, group and convention activity was almost non-existent for much of 2021, and international travel was limited to Canada and Mexico until the very end of the year.

“We knew 2021 was a very fluid environment,” Bagger said. “The availability of experiences was lower because you had closed some (entertainment venues). We knew hotels were deepening their databases to drive demand.

But the number of games jumped despite fewer visitors playing – around 76% compared to 81% in 2019. Those who played during their visit spent more time playing and budgeted more money for gambling – an average of $717.51 ​​– than in each of the previous four years. .

Michael Lawton, senior economic analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, suggested that the increased spending and longer time spent in activity matched the record total in gaming revenue.

Gambling wasn’t the only attraction that got a boost. Average food and beverage spending was $462.37, down from $410.74 in 2019, while the average shopping excursion was $284.55, the highest total on record, according to the LVCVA.

The unanswered question is whether 2021 was an anomaly or the start of the new normal.

Mike PeQueen, managing director of financial services adviser Hightower Las Vegas, said there were several “very positive signs” for Las Vegas based on visitor profiles, including the changing demographics the market has seen l ‘last year.

There were big increases in visits from African American, Asian and Hispanic customers, while visits from white customers rose from 77% in 2019 to 56% last year. PeQueen suggested that Las Vegas has benefited in 2021 from a millennial generation that has a very different ethnic makeup.

“There’s just more diversity there,” he said.

People wait to take their photos in front of the Las Vegas sign on the Las Vegas Strip on Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

A younger visitor

While Las Vegas saw a big increase in visitors in the 21 to 39 age bracket, there were declines starting at 50 and older.

“Las Vegas is attracting a younger audience is great for our vitality as an economy,” PeQueen said, suggesting the older Las Vegas shopper avoided travel in 2021 because of the pandemic. Most analysts expect older populations to start traveling again as COVID-19 numbers decline.

“I think there are parts of this (visitor profile) that are very, very encouraging, like the younger, more diverse audience that comes to Las Vegas,” PeQueen said. “It bodes well for Las Vegas if it holds.”

PeQueen said it would be interesting to see if record spending on shopping holds up in 2022. He wondered if young travelers who visited Las Vegas wanted “some kind of cool statement pieces” that they could wear for photos for social media.

“They go on Instagram in front of the Bellagio fountain, and I can’t help but think there’s something to that,” he said.

Bagger said overall customer satisfaction with the market was particularly encouraging. He expected the visitor satisfaction category amid the ongoing COVID restrictions to be hit hard.

The survey recorded an increase in the “rather satisfied” response – 26% as opposed to the normal 5-10% found in previous visitor profiles.

“I was happy to see that we didn’t become ‘dissatisfied’ and that there weren’t people who came in and just didn’t have a good time,” Bagger said.

The LVCVA added another set of questions in which 48% of respondents said Las Vegas exceeded their expectations, while 46% said Las Vegas met their expectations.

“We think people have adjusted their expectations in light of what’s going on in the world,” Bagger said.

Room rates go up

Meanwhile, visits to Las Vegas drove hotel room rates on the Strip up 115% from a year ago, according to a report by JP Morgan gaming analyst Joe Greff.

For the week of March 27 to April 2, the average weekday rate was $198 (up 79%) and the average weekend rate was $398 (up 166%).

Greff told investors in a research note that the increase is not surprising given that business and group travel were largely depressed in 2021 as the gaming industry began to operate under protocols. reduced COVID-19 health and safety.

“We also note that for weekdays there are relatively consistent increases through the (second) quarter, which validates what we’ve heard regarding forward bookings and pricing power for pent-up demand from groups. and convention returning this year,” Greff said.

Greff said room rates from a year ago for Strip properties operated by MGM Resorts International have risen an average of 58% midweek and 214% on weekends. Room rates at Strip properties operated by Caesars Entertainment increased an average of 134% midweek and weekends.

(This story was edited by Jackie Valley and Riley Snyder. Editor-in-chief Elizabeth Thompson’s media and communications company has a consultant-client relationship with Hightower Las Vegas.)

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