When Chris King, meeting planner and president of Focus Incentives, a meeting, incentive and group travel management company, looks for a meeting or event location that offers the best of everything, he often considers the Las Vegas and Reno areas. Here’s why: “Las Vegas and Reno offer everything that a meeting planner needs to create a successful event,” King says. “From outstanding hotels, resorts and meeting venues to unmatched entertainment options and recreational activities, Las Vegas and Reno provide easy-to-reach destinations that attendees appreciate.”
Recently King turned to Treasure Island Hotel & Casino for a corporate meeting that met King’s parameters and budget expectations. “Treasure Island provides an excellent value compared to similar Las Vegas resorts,” King says. “The resort’s location cannot be beat. The experienced events team at Treasure Island made our group feel at home. Many of the employees are longtime Treasure Island team members and they care about the success of the events they manage.”
“We had 42 attendees and the constant clean up by ARIA Resort & Casino staff really made a difference in us being able to get things done.”
Treasure Island recently completed a full remodel and expansion to its meetings and event space as well as several luxury and premier guest suites. In addition, all 2,664 deluxe rooms as well as the 120 petite, 55 tower and 19 executive suites are currently undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation scheduled to be completed over the next several months. Any attendee would also be inspired by the newest Antilles Ballroom space, which features natural lighting from the optional tropical pool view with panoramic two-way mirrored glass doors. For those who host or attend a meeting or convention at Treasure Island, customized banquet menus also are available, including regionally sourced options.
As Jennifer Guevarra, vice president of business development and sales at MEET Las Vegas explains, Las Vegas is the ideal city to host corporate meetings and events as the city offers a vast array of activities, diversified dining options and entertainment.
“Meeting planners have more access to celebrity performances, world-renowned chefs, as well as indoor and outdoor activities,” Guevarra says. “This accessibility along the Las Vegas Strip takes away from many of the logistical challenges of transportation either for the celebrity or the attendees. The diversification of restaurants within the city allows both planners and attendees a vast amount of options for every palate.”
Parker Meeks, president of infrastructure at TRC Companies, Inc. orchestrated a leadership strategy offsite meeting for the organization’s top-25 leaders at ARIA Resort & Casino. “I was familiar with ARIA and knew it was a great location in the middle of the Strip,” Meeks says. “It is a nice property with all the meeting and conference amenities to provide all of our needs with a high-end feel.”
ARIA is one of MGM Resorts International’s venues within the Las Vegas area. MGM’s vision to grow the convention market within Las Vegas has resulted in MGM Grand’s $130 million, 250,000-sf expansion. With this expansion, MGM Resorts now offers a total of 4 million sf of leading meeting and convention space within a 2-mile stretch on the Las Vegas Strip. That’s more than all the convention space in Manhattan combined. MGM Grand’s expansion comes on the heels of expansions at sister properties Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Las Vegas, ARIA and Park MGM.
Meeks recognizes that Las Vegas offers an easy location for direct flights from across the country. “Our leadership team is spread across both coasts,” Meeks says. “There are lots of activities for social events and high-value hotel rooms for the price.”
Koren Vazquez, meeting planner with Full Steam Staffing, also selected ARIA Resort & Casino for the company’s 10-year anniversary conference. “We had 42 attendees and the constant clean up by ARIA staff really made a difference in us being able to get things done.” ARIA recently added outdoor meeting space with its Ironwood Terrace, an 8,000-sf outdoor space connecting ARIA’s East and West Convention Centers overlooking the pool complex and mountains. An ideal location for breakfast, lunch, dinner or receptions, the terrace can accommodate an intimate event for 30 or a large reception for up to 800 guests.
The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Las Vegas Convention Center also recently finished an expansion, which included 350,000 sf of new exhibit space, a 20,000-sf foyer and underground parking. The Mandalay Bay Convention Center now boasts more than 2 million total sf and more than 900,000 sf of contiguous exhibit space with the ability to grow current shows and attract new corporate, association and incentive groups.
Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino is undergoing $250 million in renovations and expansions that have touched nearly every inch of the property as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019.
The Westgate Las Vegas offers more than 225,000 sf of renovated convention space, 2,800 guest rooms and suites and the award-winning Serenity Spa by Westgate.
The venue’s expansive convention space can accommodate any function; from intimate gatherings of 10 to groups of 6,000. The meeting space is centrally located on the ground level and offers 35 meeting/breakout rooms. They also boast more than 100,000 sf of continuous customizable meeting space including the 70,000-sf Paradise Event Center, 43,000-sf Pavilion and 35,000-sf Ballroom.
In April 2016, Las Vegas added the T-Mobile Arena, a multipurpose indoor arena on the Las Vegas Strip. This venue is home for the city’s Vegas Golden Knights NHL team.
“MEET Las Vegas is fortunate to be one block away from the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, which brings concerts, music festivals and viewing parties for various events taking place at the T-Mobile Arena,” Guevarra says.
One unique venue that has become very popular among meeting and event planners is The Mob Museum. The museum offers truly unique spaces of various sizes. Guests can attend a classroom-style training in the Oscar B. Goodman Room, enjoy an elegant dinner in the Historic Courtroom or hold a Roaring ‘20s-themed reception in the Distillery. During events guests are also encouraged to explore The Mob Museum’s award-winning exhibits.
Leora Azoulay, president of Incentives by Design, Inc., recently worked with a client who comes to Las Vegas for their annual meeting.
“They invite all their top customers to attend and on the second night they host them to a special dinner event that will be memorable and out of the ordinary,” Azoulay says. “The Mob Museum was the perfect opportunity to give them something they couldn’t have done on their own. We hosted a sit-down dinner in the courtroom for 60 people complete with an ex-mob guest speaker who shared his life story. It was truly enlightening, entertaining and perhaps even a bit unnerving.”
The team at Incentives by Design began by sending invitations to guest’s rooms the evening before — a plush fish wrapped in newspaper with a little note that read: “If you don’t want to swim with the fishes, you’ll be in attendance for dinner tomorrow night.” Upon arrival guests explored the museum and enjoyed the exceptional exhibits before coming into the courtroom.
“The room was set with long tables, using the existing courtroom benches for seating,” Azoulay says. “Our guest speaker, Frank Cullotta, who right hand man to Tony Spilotro in the day, entertained all and terrified some with his stories of life in the mob. When the guests returned to the hotel that night, they each had a personalized signed copy of a book written by Frank. The guests that attended the event were in awe, both because of what they learned walking through the exhibits and later from the guest speaker. Dining in the same courtroom that you now know was where the actual mob members were tried is quite a spectacular sensation. The guests will remember this event for years to come.”
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ uniquely vertical design, situated on just 8.6 acres, allows for easy access to the facility’s meeting and convention space, which spans three floors of the 2,995-room resort and offering seven ballrooms ranging from 7,000 sf to 37,000 sf.
The Chelsea, the Cosmopolitan’s new 40,000-sf event and performance space, offers business, meeting and convention planners an avant-garde approach to meetings, a refreshing addition to what is currently available in Las Vegas. The unique meeting space, which can accommodate more than 3,000 people, is further complemented with stunning digital displays that create surfaces for meetings and groups to enhance the experience beyond traditional programming.
To offer a one-of-a-kind conference experience, Caesars Entertainment recently began construction of Caesars FORUM, a $375 million, 550,000-sf conference center in Las Vegas with the two largest pillar-free ballrooms in the world that will open in 2020. Within walking distance to more than 20,000 Caesars Entertainment hotel rooms, connected to 5,000 Caesars Entertainment hotel rooms and adjacent to The LINQ Promenade retail district, this state-of-the-art facility will provide a unique option for meetings and events.
Until Caesars FORUM is complete, Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino also offers an amazing meeting space experience. Its 300,000 sf of meeting space is comfortably set apart from the casino area, yet remains within easy reach of attendees. Caesars Palace offers a large range of flexible venues with countless configuration options to suit groups of all sizes. In addition to traditional meeting venues within Caesars, the site’s Colosseum boasts one of the world’s largest LED screens, a perfect location for presentations that really “wow.”
Reno has long been a favorite destination for meeting and event planners, and Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno is a go-to resort for meetings and events of all sizes. Grand Sierra’s convention center provides over 200,000 sf of meeting space, along with 45 breakout rooms to meet smaller group’s needs. Located a mere five minutes from the Reno airport, Grand Sierra can accommodate groups ranging from 10 to 4,000 people.
With 106,000 sf of meeting space, Peppermill Resort Spa Casino, features its newly renovated Sorrento, Naples and Capri ballrooms. In addition to offering Northern Nevada’s largest clear-span meeting space, Peppermill also boasts a unique private dining room and two-story executive boardroom.
To establish strong relationships with meeting planners, Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno works hard to make their jobs as easy as possible. A meeting planner who recently visited the Atlantis property commented that it took exactly eight minutes from the time they received their luggage at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport to be escorted to the hotel by Atlantis’ complimentary shuttle. Atlantis is connected to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center via a glass-enclosed Sky Bridge with 550,000 sf of combined flexible meeting space available at Atlantis and the convention center.
“The decisive factor for this client choosing our hotel was how bright and spacious the meeting space is,” says John R. McGinnes, executive director of sales at Atlantis. “Additionally, another huge plus was having access to all of the meeting space on the same floor and being accessible from each of the hotel’s elevator banks.”
Recently MEET Las Vegas hosted a corporate event that not only bought out their entire building and outdoor Pavilion, but also the adjacent parking lot next to the company. As Guevarra explains, this allowed the planner to create a “vehicle-to-event” experience where the moment they stepped out of their cars, they were immersed by the company’s brand — from a welcoming entrance, to strategically sectioned off entry points and finally a sound tunnel with virtual reality effects walking into the event space.
“The flexibility of MEET Las Vegas to create a total arrival experience allows us to ‘wow’ attendees from the moment they arrive onsite,” Guevarra says.
Las Vegas and Reno are ideal locales for hosting and planning corporate meetings and events for several reasons. Accessibility is a big factor, because Las Vegas has direct flights from so many major hubs worldwide.
“Weather is also a key factor for meeting planners as they simply want sunshine — it’s surprisingly a huge benefit for this great city and permits planners to look at group activities both indoors and outdoors year round,” says Tara Russell, senior vice president of sales, catering and conference services at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. “The city of Las Vegas also still boasts a low tax rate for hotels, restaurants and retail shopping. In a small radius, we have nearly everything a planner would desire.”
To make the most of their planning experience, King recommends meeting planners who have selected Las Vegas begin orchestrating their event as far in advance as possible and avoid competing with major conventions that drive up the prices of hotels and event venues. “Las Vegas has so much to offer that it can be overwhelming when considering all of the group event options,” King says. “Experienced hotel teams and destination management companies can help planner find the best option for their group.”
Meeks also recommends meeting planners coordinate across venues by evaluating properties where possible to bundle dinners and events with meeting planning. “This reduces the number of separate touch points to plan, including invoices, expenses, etc.,” Meeks says.
Russell says most attendees want to be where they would normally go on their free time anyway, so meeting planners should select what is best for the majority of the participants.
“Getting their ‘buy in’ before selection may also work towards your favor,” Russell says. “Giving attendees a bit of down time is also beneficial, as all work with little time to explore may hinder participation. Call out the designated free time on the agenda, so guests understand the balance between that and the scheduled activities.”
Guevarra stresses that Las Vegas is moving in a direction where the region will be the leader in entertainment, dining and event experiences. “More celebrity chefs and talent are recognizing they are able to have life balance in our city thanks to the amount of traffic that comes to the city,” Guevarra says. “With the arrival of the Las Vegas Stadium, to the all-immersive MSG Sphere, to up-and-coming hotels such as Resorts World Las Vegas and Circa in downtown, Las Vegas never ceases to push the boundaries of event demands.” Las Vegas Stadium is set to open in 2020, MSG Sphere in 2021 and Resorts World Las Vegas and Circa Resort & Casino in 2020.C&IT