Much more than merely the place to exchange wedding vows or gamble the night away, Las Vegas is a preeminent location for financial and insurance meetings and events. The attractiveness of Las Vegas generates strong attendance for meetings. On average, attendance increases eight percent when conventions are held in Las Vegas. And research shows that attendees spend more time in meetings and on the trade show floor when programs are held in Las Vegas.
Among their 77 North American offices Access Destination Services has a number of strategic partnerships and long-term contracts with several financial and insurance firms — many of whom host meetings in Las Vegas.
“We proposed a steampunk theme, which has since grown very popular. We went straight from concept boards to contract and delivered a fabulous event. The planners and their guests loved it.” — Francine McKanna, DMCP
In Las Vegas in particular, the finance and insurance business is definitely on the rise,” says Jennifer Miller, DMCP, regional president at Access Destination Services. “There are fewer and fewer planners who are reluctant to place their meeting, and that’s based on the value and offerings the destination of Las Vegas has.”
Shanon Moore-McCarthy, associate director of sales at Hosts Las Vegas has seen the financial and insurance meeting market move into more of an experiential direction that involves elevating that experience accordingly. Hosts Global Alliance was recently announced as the DMC Supplier of the Year by the Maritz Collaborative in Las Vegas.
“More educational components and corporate social responsibility have become key components of meetings for the financial and insurance industry,” Moore-McCarthy says. “The meetings are experiential and financial planners are interested in creating more for less and are conscious of dollars spent in the right areas. They want to create experiences that ‘wow’ attendees that a normal tourist could not experience.”
Francine McKanna, DMCP, president and owner of AlliedPRA Las Vegas, recently planned three events in one year for different divisions of a financial company. Working with planners in this industry proved to be a very thorough experience.
“We worked with the financial company’s procurement department in the proposal phase and then had several meetings and conversations with them and the planners prior to them awarding us the business,” McKanna says. “Once that was done, we dealt most directly with the meeting planners for each event to customize the events and activities for each particular group.”
For one group within the financial company, AlliedPRA Las Vegas was asked to create an event that was “out of the box” and something their guests had never experienced before.
“We proposed a steampunk theme, which has since grown very popular,” McKanna says. “We went straight from concept boards to contract and delivered a fabulous event. The planners and their guests loved it.”
Incorporating corporate social responsibility and focusing on local charities, while customizing those experiences and engaging the recipients, also is a very popular meeting approach among financial and insurance meeting planners. Moore-McCarthy has worked with several financial-based companies in which each component, program and event is customized based on the charity itself.
“They also have families of attendees present to be engaged and to help elevate the experience,” Moore-McCarthy says. “We simply adjust this type of meeting experience based on the needs and wants of the financial client, as well as the charity.”
When working with financial and insurance companies to plan a meeting or event, there are unique considerations that need to be made.
“There are definite differences between our Financial and Insurance Conference Planners (FICP) planners’ needs and some of our other groups,” says Miller, who works with a myriad of financial and insurance-related companies. “The FICP planners tend to be more savvy and have a greater handle on the program needs. Their needs can vary depending on the scope of the program, but overall the planners are well-versed and knowledgeable about their requirements. They look for a partner to showcase the destination and advise on the unique offerings as opposed to starting from square one. These financial- and insurance-based planners often have very specific guidelines and history, which can expedite the planning process.”
What’s more, many financial and insurance companies have procurement departments that planners are required to work through during the bidding process.
“It’s a very organized process for them to collect proposal and cost information in order to make a fair price comparison,” McKanna says. “In addition, financial and insurance companies have strict controls regarding activities because they themselves are in the risk management business. They typically don’t opt for perceived high-risk activities such as helicopter rides and anything to do with high speeds, so when we are proposing ideas to them, we know not to include that type of thing. We also ensure that entertainment and servers are dressed in corporate-friendly, conservative attire, which may also be the case for other types of clients, but even more so for insurance and financial clients.”
When the financial companies come to Las Vegas as part of industry conventions and meetings, AlliedPRA Las Vegas is often asked by company planners to develop unique ideas and to find venues that are the “latest and greatest” because they want to attract customers and illustrate their leading-edge vision.
“On the other hand, they don’t like to draw attention to themselves from the general public and rightly so, due to the risk of people making assumptions about the industry as a whole and any one particular company,” McKanna says.
The security requirements, due to the nature of the business of financial and insurance companies, also can add a unique element to the planning and orchestrating of events for this industry segment.
As Miller says, the level of security typically depends more on the activities of their program, the policies of their individual companies, and the speakers or entertainment they bring in.
McKanna and her team have had insurance and financial company planners ask for how they handle data management and how secure their network is.
“They have also asked very IT-specific questions,” McKanna says. “In addition, we have been required to submit a thorough emergency preparedness plan.”
Thanks to Las Vegas’ advances in technology and sophistication, tech-savvy financial and insurance partners can conduct their day-to-day business as usual, while focusing on their specific security needs.
And due to the perception of the finance and insurance industries, their incentive travel programs are far less grand and luxurious than might be expected. “They are often more cautious about their spend and value their experiences,” Miller says. “Finance and insurance clients tend to be a bit more under the microscope in terms of spend versus value and experience versus return, so we make it our role to be an extension of their teams, to understand their hot buttons and why they choose what they do so we can be sure that the end result is what was originally conceptualized. Access prides itself on customizing programs for our clients, and the creativity element is a true value add for our finance and insurance clients who want to ‘wow’ their guests but not their accounting teams.”
Las Vegas offers companies within the financial and insurance sector a wealth of options for hosting meetings and events and is conducive to these unique types of events.
Miller stresses that Las Vegas has always been a great option for meetings and conventions. As the city continues to grow and expand, the options that come along make the city an even better option because there truly is something for everyone — every industry, every budget.
“There is something for everyone in Las Vegas — it is one of the reasons why we love ‘selling’ the destination,” Miller says. “From mountain and water activities to celebrity chef experiences, to megastar shows and concerts, and creative teambuilding and CSR options, Las Vegas will always be a place people can live out their dreams in whatever form that may take. Big or small, Las Vegas will make the meeting memorable. It is a city that prides itself on hospitality, reinvention and celebration. The weather is good. Flights are affordable and accessible from all over. Las Vegas is high value and low risk — a perfect fit for the finance and insurance markets.”
Two new property openings that McKanna is looking forward to are Resort World and the Alon Resort, both scheduled to open in 2018. “The current venue that we propose quite often and have been excited about is the new Downtown Las Vegas and Fremont Street East, including the Container Park, many new boutique restaurants and a revitalized area unlike anything else on The Strip,” McKanna says.
Wynn Las Vegas also is enhancing its appeal to the meeting and events crowd. The Encore Resort and the Encore Tower Suites at Wynn Las Vegas will undergo a design refresh, which includes updated furnishings, floor coverings, technology, aesthetics and custom bed linens. The room modifications include 55-inch 4K TVs, convenient USB ports, and outlets for mobile phones and tablets at bedside and desk with environment controls, allowing guests to adjust curtains and lighting from the comfort of their Wynn Dream Bed.
The New Tropicana Las Vegas, a DoubleTree by Hilton offers a casually elegant experience on the Las Vegas Strip and a convenient location just minutes from the airport, major convention centers and top entertainment stadiums. With a unique South Beach vibe after a $200 million complete transformation, the hotel features all-new rooms, suites and luxury villas that evoke the sentiment of a breezy beach house or penthouse in Miami, a fresh redesign of the 50,000-sf casino, several award-winning restaurants, a new race and sports book, and Glow, a Mandara Spa and fitness center. And after a recent expansion, the Trinidad Pavilion and Meeting Rooms at the Tropicana now boast 42,000 sf of space. New Wi-Fi technology including wired and wireless Internet access is now available throughout the property’s approximate 100,000 sf of convention space as well as in the resort’s 1,467 guest rooms and suites.
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino also is undergoing a resort-wide transformation with the upcoming $100 million redesign of more than 3,000 guest rooms and suites. Created by the MGM Resorts International Design Group, the new rooms and suites will feature vibrant colors and bold statement pieces. Reservations for select remodeled rooms are now available. The project is expected to be completed by spring 2016.
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino also opened a 350,000-sf expansion to its convention center. The expansion includes new exhibit space, a 20,000-sf foyer and underground parking in this first phase of the project. Construction began in October 2014 and upon completion of the project in January 2016, the Mandalay Bay Convention Center will boast more than 2 million total sf and more than 900,000 sf of contiguous exhibit space.
Raising the standard in guest service and luxury accommodations yet again, Bellagio recently completed the remodel of the final 403 suites in the resort’s main tower. This marks the conclusion of an approximately $165 million remodel that began in 2011 and encompassed all 3,933 of the resort’s rooms and suites.
Financial and insurance companies interested in making a social impact during their Las Vegas event, will be happy to hear that The Venetian and The Palazzo, as part of the Sands Company’s Sands Cares corporate citizenship initiative, introduced a new concept to Las Vegas by featuring OneHope Wine as one of the wine selections available to groups at the convention center. They will be pledging a donation to the Three Square Food Bank for every bottle sold. The Sands team has committed to 2,000 cases, which in turn will provide 36,000 meals to those in need in the Las Vegas community over the next 18 months.
This year, the final phase of the multi-year renovation of The Venetian and The Palazzo Congress Center and Sands Expo was completed. Recent improvements at Sands Expo included a new $6 million, 12,000-sf kitchen designed to provide higher quality food for trade show attendees, support show growth and increase energy efficiency by 35 percent. This is in addition to the recent total remodel and redesign of all lobbies and common spaces; construction of a 60-foot central atrium with a 30,000-sf, 3-D articulated ceiling; reconstruction of meeting rooms and business center; renovation of the building facade and porte cochere; and upgrades to the exhibition halls. Also, attendees will find upgrades to the technology and Wi-Fi infrastructure throughout the resort and convention center.
The Mob Museum introduced a new display that explores the alleged corruption of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the world’s governing organization for soccer. The display, entitled “The ‘Beautiful Game’ Turns Ugly,” features photos, media clippings and cover stories about FIFA’s alleged corruption. The exhibition comes after U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch charged FIFA officials with taking bribes and kickbacks.
Aria Resort & Casino recently introduced Sky Pool, an upscale pool offering personalized service, including complimentary refreshments, a private guest entrance and 125 single and 15 double chaise lounge chairs.
The Delano opened its new Delano Beach Club, a South Beach-inspired outdoor venue with a luxurious pool and 16 private cabanas. The entire venue is available for evening group rentals.
South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa opened a new 60-lane, state-of-the-art tournament bowling and event center. As part of a partnership between the United States Bowling Congress and the LVCVA, the venue will host 122 days of professional bowling tournaments through 2017.
The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas introduced The Gallery, a loft-style meeting venue that offers 1,900 sf of space accommodating up to 200 guests for a reception and 80 people for a seated dinner.
The new Lavo Casino Club is a modern gaming experience fusing blackjack table games with Vegas-style VIP bottle service, mixology and Italian cuisine. The new concept will launch in partnership with The Palazzo Las Vegas in September. The Lavo Casino Club will create a new type of nightlife and gaming experience where guests can enjoy a deejay and dancing, along with amenities not offered in typical nightclubs or on the casino floor, such as classic premium cocktails served directly to the gaming table from a butler’s cart; an opportunity to order from Lavo’s award-winning Italian menu; and featured sporting events, including college and NFL football games on the flat-screen TVs.
Red Rock Resort’s Race and Sports Book announced new cutting-edge video displays — just in time for football season. The 2.5MM Nanoslim Engage LED displays are the largest of their kind ever installed in North America, and take the viewing experience to an unparalleled level with a sharpness and clarity that brings all the action on the screen to life. The new displays, measuring 17 feet tall by 31.5 feet wide each, which totals nearly 32 yards of wall-to-wall race and sports book action, replace projector screen technology. The screens showcase 4K video content for viewing in ultra high definition, the most sophisticated and best viewing technology currently available.
The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa is billed as a refreshing and inspirational retreat from the neon lights of The Strip. Located on the shores of Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada, which is about 30 minutes from The Strip and McCarran Las Vegas International Airport, the resort is a picturesque environment for meetings and events.
In addition to Spa Mulay, the full-service resort features AAA Four Diamond Japanese cuisine at the signature restaurant, Marssa. With more than 90,000 sf of indoor and outdoor meeting space, The Westin Lake Las Vegas has customizable offerings for any meeting or event.
The new adventure boutique Outdoor to the Core, provides guests with standup paddleboarding, kayaking or pedal-boat riding around the lake. Adventures on land include mountain biking, zip lining, hiking trails and more.
The Reflection Bay golf course at Lake Las Vegas was completely restored last year, guided by the original course designer, Jack Nicklaus.
Genting Group recently broke ground on Resorts World Las Vegas, a new $4 billion, Chinese-themed resort on the site of the former Stardust Hotel. The property will include three hotels with more than 3,500 rooms; more than 100,000 sf of gaming space; several retail outlets; and an outdoor amphitheater. Genting Group, which operates casino resorts worldwide, plans to open Resorts World in 2018.
Caesars Entertainment has completed its Linq Complex with the opening of The Linq Hotel & Casino after renovating all 2,253 guest rooms and adding two loft-style penthouses and 25 poolside guest rooms. The Linq Hotel also added an automated valet retrieval system, an automated check-in process and a new lobby bar. The Linq complex also includes the Linq Promenade and High Roller observation wheel.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority plans to build the Las Vegas Global Business District. Once completed, the district will host the largest exhibition and meeting space in North America and is within a short distance of more than 150,000 guest rooms and just minutes from the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The project will add 100,000 sf of general session space and 100,000 sf of meeting space to the Las Vegas Convention Center.
MGM Resorts International plans to build a 5,000-seat theater at Monte Carlo Resort and Casino. The new theater will anchor the burgeoning entertainment district on the west Las Vegas Strip and feature special appearances by top music performers. The theater will be adjacent to the new Las Vegas Arena that MGM and AEG are developing on Las Vegas Boulevard. The Arena is expected to open in April 2016, while the theater opening is planned for the end of 2016.
Speedvegas was recently given approval to transform 100 acres of South Las Vegas Boulevard into the destination’s newest, adrenaline-inducing supercar experience. The Speedvegas experience will feature a welcome center, event center and supercar course. Located just 10 minutes from the world-famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, Speedvegas is scheduled to open in January 2016.
Las Vegas keeps them coming back to sample new dining options such as the following:
Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino recently opened Edge Steakhouse, a fine-dining restaurant with a new twist on the traditional steak house concept. Award-winning chef Nick Lees and his staff blend traditional American steak house dishes with creative entrées, specialty appetizers and innovative side dishes.
Aria will this fall debut its own version of New York City’s critically acclaimed Carbone restaurant, a finalist for the 2014 James Beard Award for “Best New Restaurant.” The Italian-American restaurant serves classic dishes from the mid-20th century such as Fra Diavolo and Chicken Scarpariello. Meeting planners will be able to utilize the chic Private Dining Room for larger meetings of 40 guests or transform the room for smaller groups. The entire restaurant — including the back dining room and front loggia with a massive bar and intimate seating areas — can be used for meetings of more than 250.
Red Rock Resort will introduce Salute, an authentic Italian-inspired restaurant that will feature traditional Italian dishes. Internationally known chef Luciano Sautto, a native of Naples, Italy, will offer cuisine passed down through Italian generations and focus on freshness.
Delano Las Vegas will introduce Rivea, a restaurant featuring casually elegant but simple Mediterranean cuisine from the French Riviera and Italian Riviera. A 50-seat private dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows will offer views of The Strip. This intimate and secluded room, as well as the restaurant in its entirety, will be available for hosting truly memorable events.
Therapy Las Vegas recently opened in the Fremont East Entertainment District of downtown Las Vegas. Therapy combines the best elements of downtown dining and imbibing into one destination complete with an American gastro-style menu by executive chef Daniel Ontiveros and a full bar program with more than 40 craft beers and signature drinks.
Anchor Bar, the iconic Buffalo, New York, institution opened its first West Coast outpost in the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. Inventors of The Original Buffalo Wing, Anchor Bar boasts creating the prized recipe that started a nationwide sensation.
Top shows are returning to Las Vegas due to popular demand.
After a year off, Celine Dion returned to the Las Vegas stage in late August with her new show “Celine at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace,” which features her biggest hits directed by famed Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich. One of the most highly recognized, widely respected and successful performers in pop music history, Celine has sold nearly 250 million records during her more than 30-year career.
Reba, Brooks & Dunn added more shows for their residency at Caesars Palace. The country music powerhouses will take the stage for additional performances on December 1 and December 8, with tickets on sale now. The superstar entertainers sell out crowds night after night since they debuted their show in June
The legendary Diana Ross returns to The Venetian Theatre for another residency in November. Last April, the renowned superstar sold out nine shows, wowed audiences and received rave reviews at The Venetian Theatre. Diana Ross once again returns for another nine shows, between November 4–21.
Legendary comedian and impersonator Rich Little will return to the Las Vegas Strip with the debut of his new autobiographical one-man show, “Rich Little Live” at the world-famous Laugh Factory inside The New Tropicana Las Vegas, a DoubleTree by Hilton. The show features a compilation of impersonations, sketches and interactive video of the actors, musicians, politicians and personalities Little has worked with throughout his more than 50 years in entertainment. “Rich Little Live” premiered July 14. I&FMM