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September 18, 2014

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DAILY MEMO: THE ECONOMY:

Las Vegas Advisor boss’ advice: Bring back the Baby Boomers

When Anthony Curtis speaks of the challenge of getting debt-laden consumers to spend money in Las Vegas, his analysis is framed by personal business experience as an analyst of gaming and entertainment industry trends.

He has spent much of the past four years ridding his Huntington Press, which publishes an insiders’ newsletter — Las Vegas Advisor — on deals and insights, of all corporate debt.

He laid off half of his staff, cut expenses and worked to minimize the effect of a 35 percent drop in gross revenue when compared with 2007 levels. So as he looks at the spending patterns of Las Vegas tourists, he grasps the broader wisdom of their behavior.

“The strategy for everybody is to get out of debt. Correspondingly that means you’re not spending if you’re a business owner, not spending if you’re a consumer,” Curtis said. “The world has gotten smarter ... People are saying, ‘Let’s get this debt down.’ ”

Southern Nevada has recorded 15 consecutive months of increased visitation, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and although the trend is positive for a troubled economy, visitor spending remains below 2007 levels, when Las Vegas hosted a record 40 million visitors.

Personal savings as a percentage of disposable income increased nationally to 5.4 percent in June, compared with negative 1 percent in 2006, a 73-year low. Although consumers are aggressively paying down debt — a positive for the long-term health of the U.S. economy — it hardly benefits Las Vegas, which is heavily dependent upon the free-spending, impulsive behavior of tourists. Many have been further sobered by this week’s volatility of world financial markets, prompted in part by the congressional battle over the U.S. debt ceiling.

One result: Megaresort operators, restaurateurs and bar owners have increasingly embraced “the deal,” a classic Las Vegas strategy to entice customers and one that was largely lost amid the high-energy years of the economic boom.

“You have to do that here on many levels because they expect it,” Curtis said of the dance between casinos and their customers. “If you’re going to gamble and give your money away, you expect something in return. They’re trying at all levels to bring people in, but they’re having a hard time because people are holding their money closer.”

So we offer our tourists a deal.

The Las Vegas Advisor points to the regular mix of cheap steaks and discounted shrimp cocktails at third-tier gaming properties, but the Forum Shops at Caesars, Cosmopolitan and Station Casinos are also offering deals on a mix of food, drinks and shows, a combination of price and setting not witnessed during the height of the market.

In fact, a decade ago, top Strip executives were boasting of the wealth-driven appeal of aging Baby Boomers, empty nesters who had money and a willingness to spend on travel, food, shows and gambling. So executives throughout the valley spent billions on massive resorts, then sought to recover their investments by charging similarly high prices.

The sharpest megaresort operators have globalized their holdings, with Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn opening their Las Vegas-sized properties in Macau and Singapore. They recognized the purchasing power and pent-up demand of Asian consumers, and generate as much as 80 percent of their revenue from those holdings. Meantime, Curtis watches as slot play and airline travel remain below 2007 levels, while daily vehicle traffic is up along the highways leading to Southern Nevada, a sign that budget-conscious, regional travelers, many of whom are younger, seek to tap into those deals.

“The older crowd has about given up on Vegas. The market erased some of their home value,” Curtis said. A significant number of his newsletter’s older readers have canceled subscriptions, saying they would rather visit tribal casinos closer to home, where they can get their fix without paying for $4-a-gallon gasoline, hotel rooms and multiple restaurant meals. “That’s just the normal changing of the guard. People get older and your old customer base goes away.”

Then again, the longtime trends analyst notes, megaresort operators and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority may have failed to hold their base with too many marketing messages that focused on this region’s allure to younger visitors.

“They need to court their Boomers more,” he said.

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  1. Lets go one step further Many boomers are moving especially on the east coast. Many various reasons but most of them fit Las Vegas like a glove. Warm weather,low property taxes,entertainment and etc. The state needs to entice the Boomers to move to las vegas. Going south to Florida and etc is becoming less appealing and the weather situation is (humidity bugs hurricanes and etc) does not help. Stable tax paying retirees can help the state's economy and bolster Las vegas. You do not get laid off from retirement. It will also bolster the work force especially part time skilled jobs for many of these folks have great educations and job skills. This is a Win Win for everyone.

  2. I'M a baby boomer. Partially what is keeping me away is the crazy loud music at the pools that you can hear in your room all hours of the day and night. The music isn't even good. It's that hip-hop urban crap.

  3. Look around in the casino, the boomers are the ones playing the slots. Vegas needs to fix the pool situation. The pools used to be where people go to swim. Now they are pick up joints where kids stand and drink all day. Heaven forbid they should get their hair wet. The hotels need pools that you can swim in, and they should play music music from the 60's -90's.

  4. Aprilgirl12,

    It sounds like you think that the hotels have *only* the "party pools" and not family-friendly ones. Don't confused the "dayclubs" with traditional pools that hotels still have...

    Check out this link:

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/photos/galler...

  5. I totally agree with the thing about too much Hip Hop music at the pools. It's annoying and as much as people want to say it's party music, it really only caters to a niche audience. It's also NOT used only at Day Clubs and Party Pools, but at a wide variety of them. When it comes to annoyance Hard Rock is a great example. You can close the balcony doors and still hear it vibrating through, and if you're down on the pool deck you can't even hear yourself think. One weekday though while I was working there they were blasting the typical hip-hop crap, and then the DJ ended up putting on classic rock for about 3 tracks. While that was playing people actually started singing along and you could hear laughing. People actually enjoyed it. Then as soon as the hip-hop came back on, the place went silent again and people then started leaving. Not everyone like hip-hop, and in fact most people don't. Why hotels can't seem to get this through their head is beyond me.

    As for catering to Baby Boomers, it can't be done. Having a good time means many different things to different people. Vegas no longer has a fun, party atmosphere. Vegas is all about elitism and and proving that you have money rather than finding a way to enjoy what you've got. Gone are the days of lounges where people could all come in, get a drink, have a smoke, mingle, and have a good time. Now if you wanted a drink you gotta bribe the door man, bribe the wait staff, and constantly pay for drinks that you don't even finish. "Bottle Service" ruined allot of the fun in Vegas. Not to mention that every place is trying so hard to hard to be hip that their just alienating guests. Vegas used to get made fun of because of kitch and how it was fake, but it was Vegas. Now almost every place in Vegas has become fake because it's going out of it's way to disassociate itself with Vegas entirely.

    Why would anyone bother to make the trip to Vegas when Tribal Casinos offer a more comfortable atmosphere for the key demographic of guests? They don't blast hip-hop, offer cheaper food, and their showrooms have more classic rock and country music bands.

  6. A couple of years ago I told my wife that the strip is going to strangle itself by catering to the wrong group. The casinos were pushing too hard to attract a Paris Hilton 20 something aged crowd. They pushed baby boomers away by blasting the music to a level where you can't have a normal conversation. It's why I quit going to Hooters and then New York New York also. They blast away with loud rap music. Sure that brings in the kids, but the kids as a whole don't have the money.

  7. i just spent a week at aria and went to the pool every day for a few hours and i never heard any music...actually it was pretty nice. maybe you shouldnt stay at hotels that cater to the day club pool market.

    las vegas is full of great deals and with so many properties offering so many different things a little research before you book your hotel should make your visit exactally what you want it to be.

    every place i went i encountered workers who were as nice and polite as could be..except the poplar night clubs, those people are still a-holes...unless its the off night for their club then they are glad to see you.

    sometimes it seems like the only people who post comments are the complainers and naysayers. i challenge you to find a better deal on a hotel offering similar amenities...most hotels around the country and the worlds are dumps next to las vegas hotels...try staying in new york city and see what you get for the same price as one of the best properties in vegas...a 5 star hotel in cancun is a 3 star hotel in vegas. a five star hotel if south beach would be torn down if it was in las vegas. paris...nasty..anywhere in europe, either 750 a night or is a dump..and 750 a night would be a room like would be in the monte carlo or nyny...

    if there is a better overall value anywhere, that offers as much shopping, dining, partying, sightseeing or gambling as in las vegas then tell me what it is...because ive been just about everywhere and i havent found it...thats why i visit vegas 3 or 4 times a year...there is no better value, anywhere!

    do you have to be smart, do your homework, sure you do...if you were a visitor who stayed in the new frontier and liked it , then you will like the trop or excaliber...sometimes aria has the best deal, sometimes its palazzo, or one of many others..just stop complaining unless you have found somewhere better, and if you have found it then go there...my guess is you havent or you wouldnt be reading a las vegas news paper.

  8. I'm not just a complainer. I have read many reviews on hotel pools. Unless you go to the pool early in the morning, the music blasts you out of your socks. I stayed at the Flamingo last year for a week. They played classic rock for a few hours in the morning then they cranked it up really loud and started the party music. I paid for a cabana for the day but left early because it was so annoying.

  9. Funny how this turned into a discussion about pools, but since it has....

    I travel to Las Vegas 4-6 times per year from Canada and very recently spent one week at the Mirage. I agree with Jame's comments regarding value and bang for the buck when it comes to hotel quality.

    On my most recent trip I spent a day at the Flamingo GO pool, with all the loud music, booty shake contests, young people, and had a great time. The next day I spent several hours at the Mirage pool and found it quiet, family friendly, and basically a much more "traditional" pool experience. The beverage service was also quite good, surprisingly.

    I guess my point is that the pools still offer something for everyone and I appreciate the options available, especially considering how many pools are now allowing access to non-guests. Note: any pool that offers gaming will let you in if you say you're headed to the tables. Read lasvegasadvisor.com for more of Mr Curtis' excellent work.

    CCB

  10. I've found the right combination. I stay a much smaller resort, The Riv, and have for several years now. The pool is relaxing, the casino is not over crowded, the restaurants are fine. The cost is small compared to the mega resorts. I can visit the mega's anytime. The loud music and crowd's at some of the Hotel's keep me away from them. However my point is a Boomer(like myself)can have a great time, all you have to do is find it, at a reasonable price. I've been visiting LV since 1972 and will continue to do so as long as there are hotels such as the Riv.

  11. Take care of the locals, the ones that make it all happen and do ALL the work. The more we feel like third class citizens the worse it will get. People see through Las Vegas' veil of BS when our problems are plastered all over the nightly news. They can go anywhere and Vegas is becoming less and less safe, much more expensive and the comps and entertainment factor have evolved into something unrecognizable. (Comps? what are those?)
    Las Vegas locals are feeling it bad and no one is helping us. We are solely catering to tourists and they make up only a part of Nevadas culture and energy. If they aren't coming here it is because greed drives people away. Stop being greedy, duh. When they get here all they see is a bunch of losers standing in the sun, wearing children's character costumes beating up tourists for $$$ to take pictures. We charge for everything here and have no water or culture. We locals suffer major traffic problems, resort corridor killings nightly and $600.00 bottles of Vodka. Half the casinos are closing down or will be soon to make way for shopping experiences the likes of which you have never seen. People used to come here to drink, gamble and be in the company of sexy fun people. Shopping never had a place here. No one wants to get away and then spend more money on the crap they can get anywhere and don't have to pay overpriced baggage charges just to take home. We are a joke now. We are an echo of what Las Vegas started out to be and 'Never' will be again. Way to go corporate Nevada, another land raped and pillaged for the sake of a buck.

  12. no one is forced to live in or vacation in las vegas...move to another city or vacation someplace else if you dont like it..problem solved..

    you have to pick the resort that offers what you are looking...you cant stay in disney land and complain about the kids...what did you expect?

    if you stay at palms or hard rock you should know what you are in for...if thats not your thing stay at red rock or the m...i never even see anyone at their pools...

  13. We have spent our life time here and are now retired. Vegas always has been and will continue to be a great city.

    Las Vegas as a local is what YOU make of it. It can be great to you or it can eat you up, your choice.

    There is something for everyone here, you just have to know where to look. If you don't want boom-boom music, then don't go where they cater to that crowd. You don't want to pay high prices, go to the older or off strip properties. Don't blame a company for catering to a certain group, just go where they cater to you. It really is pretty simple.

    Some locals will complain no matter what happens yet they don't do anything to make their own life better. Those are the locals that might want to consider checking out some other city in this country. You are free to do so. If you hate it here, why stay? You control your life so stop blaming others/towns for your unhappy life.

  14. I agree... a marketing plan aimed at the Boomers would really bring back a sense of Vegas as it used to be. Maybe with Oscar as the new "Ambassador" he'll bring back more boomers and mobsters. lol

    If the Boomers overran the place, maybe some of the younger set would stay in venues specifically marketed for them, instead of being everywhere in their barely there clothes and obnoxious behaviors. (that's a generalization, but it seems to be the "norm") -- I can't stand to see these young girls walking through the casinos and hotels, all dressed up looking like hookers, and carrying their shoes in their hands! Talk about cheap and disgusting. Barefoot!!! Not to mention the ragtag outfits the guys wear while their "dates" are in evening (or rather 'ladies of the evening') dresses.

    But I guess it's not what you wear, it's how much money you are putting into the coffers at the hotel.

    I quit going to the M, GVR, Sunset, and other hotels because their comps are stripped down to nothing for locals. The "We Love Locals" is a joke. Cheesy.

    What do locals want? Free play, a good meal, and show tickets, with an emphasis on free play...especially for us local Boomers who are consistent, steadfast and HERE willing to spend if it's an offer we can't refuse.

  15. We have stayed at many of the top resort hotels in Vegas. We were fortunate to find a pool at Mandalay Bay that was open only because they had a full house, and there was room to swim but the music from the "Club" pool was so loud it drowned out the pleasant music at the overflow pool.

    We stayed at Aria and all of the pools except one was full of the hook up crowd and the one that wasn't was full of kids.

    MGM has an awesome pool and it was ok the last time we were there. We are going to Bellagio next and hope to find a comfortable pool experience. It is relaxing on vacation to read a book at the pool and I hope we will have that opportunity and not blaring music.

  16. Some of the 'hip' posters on here are stating that we who aren't into the club/pool scene should shut up and leave if we don't like it ... but I'm not the one crying because the profit is down on the strip.

    My wife and I LIVE in LV ,work in LV and spend many times what the pool/club guys/gals that travel here and check into their hotel with a LARGE cooler on wheels ,lie at poolside all day long and party in their room/s all nite long.

    My wife works and I am retired and between all of our sources of income we earn X and spend approx. 70,000 dollars per yr in LV on food housing health expense and entertainment .... there are millions more 'boomers' just like us in the USA who are capable of pulling LV out of the housing crisis and supporting home repair ,health care ,casinos and grocery stores and we can be as LARGE a factor or BIGGER than a generation of young folks who are overextended on their credit cards and have yet to save a dime or purchase a dwelling.

    Bottom line... do your thing ,have fun but don't think that you are the only wheel on the engine that drives Las Vegas.

  17. "if it gets too cold, we put on more clothes"

    Well, every time I put on another layer of clothes this past winter, I cursed myself out and wished I was still in Vegas!!!

    I agree though on the change of seasons. This morning was just absolutely f'ing beautiful!! After all that heat and humidity - it was 65 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. Gorgeous. (But I still miss seeing the mountains every morning with the sun shining on them, making them look like they were three dimensional).

  18. right on vegaslee! you are spot on! Uhaul has trucks /trailer for rent for those who do not like living here and should move.

  19. For as tight as the casino slots are why not just stay in your car, listening to the music of your choice and just toss twenty dollar bills out the window as you drive by. Or better yet, keep your windows in the UP position, take those twenty dollar bills and invest in a portable spa that even the smallest of backyards can usually accommodate. That way you can enjoy a little 'water sport' play whatever music you like and heck, you can stop at Lee's and buy a reasonably priced bottle of wine to boot - you will certainly get more enjoyment doing that then you would on the Strip or even at any of the 'Locals' casinos.

  20. Vegas is, in many ways, just like the child we have that we will always LOVE but not always LIKE. That's how I feel about Vegas (much of the time) while I may always LOVE the place I don't necessarily LIKE the place and what it offers. Reading through the responses of some posters who would tell you to basically 'like it or leave' reminds me of the part of Vegas I don't necessarily like - the RUDENESS..... Instead of people trying to understand why a person does or doesn't like something they take the 'like it or leave it' attitude - yep, that's so much easier than trying to find a solution that works for all, isn't it? Very sad indeed :(

  21. < We are convinced that as soon as the clown in the White House leaves in 2013, everything will recover...including Vegas real estate.>

    Dream on. Yeah, if one of those Tea Partiers gets elected - are they going to find Las Vegas perfect for their "family values" platform and encourage people to go on vacation there with the kids?