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October 25, 2014

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How many walk LV Strip? Mobile message deliverer now knows the answer

Image

Ulf Buchholz

Tourists stroll along Las Vegas Boulevard in front of Paris Las Vegas.

Beyond the Sun

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has tons of statistics profiling tourists in Southern Nevada.

The authority knows what they look like, how old they are, how they plan their trips, how they get here, how often they come, how long they stay, how much they spend and what they do with their time and money.

So it was somewhat surprising that no one had figured out how long visitors spend walking along our most famous piece of real estate, the Strip.

That piece of information was important to Marla Letizia, founder and CEO of Big Traffic, the city’s dominant mobile billboard operator.

Letizia always reminds people that she is not the company that offers the “hot babes” mobile messages. “We don’t sell to any of the adult businesses,” she says.

Although her company used to run mobile ads for the Crazy Horse II strip club.

But she said anecdotally she knew there were a lot of people on the Strip, and they would remember seeing her vehicles cruising the boulevard. So she set out to prove what she suspected.

At first, she hired a bunch of UNLV students to ride along with her drivers and click counters to figure out how many eyes her billboards were reaching.

But to convince advertisers her statistics were legitimate, she felt she needed an independent voice to validate her hypothesis.

Enter Jeremy Aguero, a principal with Applied Analysis, who studies all things tourism-related and has done some studies that have been presented to the LVCVA.

“I was actually a little surprised that no one had ever done a study like this,” Aguero said after presenting the results of his “Analysis of Mobile Billboards Reach and Recall” last week at Cili.

Letizia invited 80 media buyers from local resorts to hear a summary of the report based on 400 interviews conducted by GLS Research, the same firm that develops the authority’s visitor profiles. Some of the findings:

• The average visitor walks about 4.1 hours on the Strip, visiting an average 6.2 properties.

• On average, 17,700 people are walking on the Strip at any given hour on any given day. The low time of the day: from 6 a.m. to noon, about 5,700; the high time: from 6 p.m. to midnight, about 34,900. The peak hour is 8-9 p.m. when about 40,000 are on the street; the low time is 5-6 a.m. when fewer than 5,000 are out.

• From the low point of 5 a.m. the number of pedestrians ramps up gradually to the 9 p.m. peak. It tails off slightly from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., then drops dramatically after 1 a.m.

• 77 percent of the respondents to the GLS survey indicated they had seen mobile billboard advertising while walking. And 53 percent could recall specific ads on a mobile billboard, more than any other form of outdoor advertising.

• Of the 77 percent of visitors who recalled seeing mobile billboards, 68 percent said they could recall specific advertising messages, 24 percent couldn’t recall a specific message and 8 percent had no recollection.

• Specific recall of mobile billboard ad content was higher than the recall of other forms of outdoor advertising. Fifty-three percent could recall specific ads on mobile billboards, 42 percent remembered specifics on buses, 39 percent recalled ads on taxicabs and 37 percent recalled specific messages on free-standing billboards.

• Eighteen percent said they had seen outdoor advertising from their hotel rooms with 32 percent indicating they had seen mobile billboards, second to free-standing billboards.

Aguero said what he learned opens the door to more research. For example, the results came from a survey in March. How much would the pedestrian count change in the middle of summer when temperatures soar above 100 degrees or in the middle of winter when you need a coat? Were the March respondents on spring break? If so, does everything change when you have summer vacation people in town? How do things change when a big convention such as the Consumer Electronic Show or MAGIC are in town?

One of the ironies of Letizia sponsoring the study, which cost $24,000, is that the data could be helpful to other advertising venues such as the Regional Transportation Commission, which runs the double-decker Deuce buses.

Letizia theorized that one reason Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani pursued legislation to ban mobile billboards in the recently concluded legislative session is that Clark County has a seat on the RTC and could use the law to put a competitor out of business. The bill died in committee.

The Applied Analysis study doesn’t offer a lot of surprises, but it does quantify something most of us knew anecdotally: that there are a lot of people walking on the Strip and they pay attention to the thousands of visual stimuli that are part of that landscape.

First for the Fourth

The recession is bringing plenty of misery to our community, but it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that in the big picture, Las Vegas really isn’t as bad off as a number of other tourism destinations.

In fact, Las Vegas is the world’s leading destination for the upcoming Fourth of July three-day weekend according to hotel booking data released by online travel company Orbitz.com.

Data pulled by Orbitz on May 27 for hotel bookings July 3-6 indicate Las Vegas leads Chicago; New York; Honolulu; Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; San Francisco; New Orleans; Washington; and London.

One of the traffic drivers to Las Vegas is the low average daily room rate, the only one in the top 10 that is under $100 a night. The Las Vegas rate, Orbitz says, is $86 a night, down 44 percent from a year ago.

Of the top 10 destinations, only two — New Orleans and Washington — had higher room rates than last year. New Orleans, still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, was up 9 percent to $175, and Washington was up 1 percent to $151.

The average room rate for the holiday was down 24 percent from last year to $143.60.

Deals or no deals

Southwest Airlines giveth and Southwest Airlines taketh away.

On the giving side, the busiest airline at McCarran International Airport observed its 38-year anniversary by offering $38 fares on some of its shortest routes. From Las Vegas that included trips to all of its Southern California destinations, Phoenix and Reno.

Southwest also offered a nice perk to anyone traveling to or from Denver from June 18 to Sept. 30. Customers enrolled in the airline’s Rapid Rewards program can register for a bonus credit for any travel to and from the Mile High City. That means you get two credits instead of one for any flights there if you sign up.

But Southwest also is taking something away.

Customers enrolled in the company’s College Rapid Rewards program that offers two-for-one bonus credits to college students who fly were notified the program is being discontinued July 15. After that date, there will be no more enrollments and beginning Oct. 16, college students will only receive one credit instead of two for flights.

Meanwhile, US Airways and United Airlines, the No. 2 and 3 operators at McCarran respectively, are charging an additional $5 per bag to check luggage at the airport this summer.

Customers can dodge the fee if they pay online. United began assessing the fee June 10 while US Airways will begin July 9. That means the cost of checking a bag, if you do it at the airport, is $20 for the first and $30 for the second.

New responsibilities

For a writer, branching out into new areas is always a good thing, especially if it involves topics that are related to things you know about.

Future column topics for me will include technology, the local chambers of commerce and small business. I’ll continue to write about tourism and gaming, but I’ll also be looking at those other areas.

It’s a great fit: Travel and tourism is more and more dependent on technological innovations and some of the best technology conventions meet in Las Vegas. In addition to promoting business relationships, the Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Latin, Asian, Urban and other chambers promote the benefits of our area to visitors.

Your tips and e-mails will continue to be appreciated as I take on the responsibility of covering these important areas.

Richard N. Velotta covers tourism for In Business Las Vegas and its sister publication, the Las Vegas Sun. He can be reached at 259-4061 or at [email protected]

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