Las Vegas Sun

October 31, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: TOURISM:

Blue Man Group taking flight

Deal between troupe, Allegiant Air gives each visibility on other’s turf

Image

Leila Navidi

Blue Man Group performers hold up an Allegiant Air sign Tuesday during a promotion to announce a partnership between the troupe and the Las Vegas-based airline.

Allegiant Air doesn’t advertise much in Las Vegas, but it climbed to become the seventh-busiest commercial air carrier at McCarran International Airport last year.

Now, with very little expense, the Las Vegas-based airline will get its name in front of thousands of tourists. Through an agreement believed to be the first between an airline and an entertainment company, Allegiant and Blue Man Group will use each other’s turf to broaden their brands.

The entertainers’ blue mugs will appear on the side of Allegiant’s twin-engine MD-80 jets and their blue handprints will be all over the overhead luggage bins. Cups and napkins will have blue men on them and flight attendants will sell show tickets on Vegas-bound flights.

In exchange, the agreement reached this month gives Allegiant prominent displays of its logo in Blue Man shows when one of the performers finds a pair of those flashlight wands used to direct planes on airport ramps. The act launches a musical sequence that concludes with a life-size airliner, engines screaming, rolling part of the way onstage.

Allegiant’s name on the fuselage will become a free ad viewed by up to 14,000 people a week who see the Blue Man Group perform.

“Opportunities come along every once in a while and we don’t seriously consider most of them, but one of our people said, ‘Matt, you really need to talk to these guys,’ ” Blue Man co-creator Matt Goldman said of his initial meeting with Allegiant.

“So, we sat down with them and we weren’t talking five minutes when I said, ‘We really do need to work with these guys.’ ”

Both Goldman and Allegiant Chief Executive Maurice Gallagher view the agreement as an investment that could pay big dividends.

That’s a good thing in the struggling airline industry, which is parking jets and laying off employees to neutralize $100-a-barrel oil prices. Even Allegiant has scratched a few of its long-haul flights, saying it’s more economical to park the planes than take the financial hit of skyrocketing fuel prices.

But the airline continues to thrive in the tough environment. In fact, the company will move in May into a 60,000-square-foot two-story corporate headquarters being built on the Southern Beltway at Durango Drive.

• • •

A Las Vegas taxi driver has filed a lawsuit in District Court against Harrah’s Entertainment for allegedly ignoring state laws that prohibit limousine operators from soliciting passengers from taxi lines at resorts.

Randell Hynes, who drives for the Nellis Taxicab Co., says Harrah’s employees routinely take kickbacks to divert customers waiting for rides in marked taxi lines to limousines.

Hynes, who is representing himself in the court action, said Harrah’s has arrangements with the owners of limousine companies to move customers away from taxis at Caesars Palace and five other properties.

The lawsuit is likely to be the first volley in a series of actions as tensions grow in the taxi industry.

Several cab drivers are considering demonstrations at the end of the month in response to steadily declining pay, which they contend is a result of the larger number of cabs on the road. Industry representatives say in the past few months, on average, most cab drivers have been booking two rides an hour in a time of year that is supposed to be the busiest. Typically, they would get more than twice that many.

• • •

File this under “Only in Las Vegas.”

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors recently approved a talent contract with seven companies to supply 44 performers for Las Vegas meet-and-greet events.

The performers are women dressed as traditional showgirls and Elvis Presley impersonators who provide audiences with a taste of Vegas at events they attend. The one-year deal is expected to cost $200,000, with showgirls receiving $400 at every appearance and Elvis impersonators getting $800 — because they sing and say, “Thank ya, thank ya very much” at events, while the showgirls just look good.

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