For the third consecutive year, Las Vegas set a new all-time record of 42.9 million visitors in 2016 (more than last year’s record-setting 42.3 million). Convention visitation in 2016 also welcomed a record number of more than 6.3 million business travelers.
And there is no stopping that forward motion now. For the 23rd consecutive year, Las Vegas was named the country’s No. 1 trade show destination according to the Trade Show News Network “2016 TSNN Top 250 Trade Shows in the United States” list.
“As someone walks into the main lobby of a hotel — is it chaotic with other guests, or is it a tranquil, calming feeling when they walk in?”
— Amy McCollum
So it was an easy decision when meeting planner Julie Hommowun was charged with finding the best destination for her company’s biennial Power of Gallagher meeting, an internal trade show. As a planner for Arthur J. Gallagher & Company, a global sales and marketing company providing risk management services with corporate headquarters in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, Hommowun knew she was on the fast track to success by selecting Las Vegas as the site for the meeting. In fact, the company held this very important event at the Aria Resort & Casino again this year after hosting it there in 2011 and 2015.
The Power of Gallagher national conference brings together the cream of the crop from around the world — the top 10 percent of representatives for the weeklong networking and awards event, which highlights the capabilities, talents and resources that exist within the company.
“At the most recent Power of Gallagher that took place in February 2017, we had about 1,900 attendees,” Hommowun says. “We like to think of this meeting as a three-legged stool. The first leg is an exhibit hall where our employees network, understand the vast products and services that we can offer our clients worldwide and find opportunities to cross-sell different products to existing clients. The second leg is to recognize and award our top sales producers.” Finally, the company has general sessions to give their employees an update on the state of the company and the different divisions within the company.
In addition, while they have so many employees as well as the leaders of the company in one place, they have several breakout meetings. This year the company had more than 70 breakout meetings ranging in size from eight people to 400 people.
As part of Arthur J. Gallagher’s commitment to their employees, the company wanted a venue that was a fitting reward for all the hard work exhibited by their employees. They again chose the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
“There are several things we love about the Aria hotel but first and foremost is their partnership. They are great to plan a meeting with and work really hard to make your meeting come to life,” Hommowun says. “The meeting space being stacked on three floors is a huge benefit because attendees do not have to walk too far to get from one room to the next.”
Aria Resort & Casino is a AAA Five Diamond resort on The Strip featuring spectacular amenities, high-end service, premium meeting and convention space, striking architecture and sustainable design.
One of North America’s premier destinations for large-scale meetings and events, Aria is currently undergoing a major expansion of its award-winning LEED Gold-certified convention center. The $154 million project will deliver an additional 200,000 sf of technologically advanced, flexible meeting space across four stories, highlighted by indoor/open-air spaces and a glass-enclosed venue. With the completion in 2018 of the expansion project, Aria will boast more than 500,000 sf of meeting space.
This expansion will meet the ever-growing needs of clients such as Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
“We take advantage of having the three large meeting rooms to hold our whole group for meals, a general session and an exhibit hall. The breakout space worked great also as it afforded us a lot of flexibility to accommodate all the meeting requests,” Hommowun says. “The food at the Aria was wonderful. For a meeting this size, it is near impossible to please everyone’s individual taste. But we received so many compliments on the food at this meeting. People told us it was great for restaurant food, and the fact that we received that quality of food for almost 2,000 people is impressive.”
Hommowun worked with Encore Event Technologies, Aria’s preferred audio-visual provider, which is located on property. “They did a great job on our program and worked hard to accommodate a lot of last-minute requests,” Hommowun says. “All of the Aria staff are a pleasure to work with. They are very customer service oriented, and we can trust them to take care of our attendees.”
The first level of Aria’s new convention space will feature an open ballroom with ample prefunction spaces and access to an exclusive loading dock for events that require sizable displays. Versatile indoor-outdoor breakout rooms, which provide options to enjoy sunny Las Vegas weather while conducting business, will highlight the second level, and the third level will offer a large ballroom as well as naturally lit prefunction spaces connecting to Aria’s existing convention center.
The facility’s top floor is set to become one of Las Vegas’ most unique meeting venues as it pairs a vast ballroom with an outdoor patio that will accommodate receptions for up to 2,000 guests. The patio overlooks The Park and T-Mobile Arena.
“Many meeting and event attendees within the insurance and finance industry are well traveled, so venues need to be sure to go above and beyond. And oftentimes that starts with the first impression, ends with the last impression and everything in-between,” says Amy McCollum, senior program manager, conferences and meetings, at metroConnections in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Also, with more events popping up all the time, in our current economy, don’t forget about the fundamentals and don’t take for granted — good food and great service.
“Beyond the basics, add thoughtful touches and become educated on the guests and locale. Add custom industry-branded props to a step-and-repeat, or entertainment based on the locale. For larger groups especially, plan several events which take place in multiple areas during the same meeting. For instance, we’ll start at the Cosmopolitan for the program and head to the Marquee nightclub at the same property for an impressive outdoor evening event,” adds McCollum.
According to McCollum, everyone’s definition of high end is different, so when finding the ideal location to host the next financial or insurance meeting or event in Las Vegas, the best place to start is with the senses — what can your guests physically see, smell, touch, taste and hear.
“As someone walks into the main lobby of a hotel — is it chaotic with other guests, or is it a tranquil, calming feeling when they walk in? Is there infused water and a cool towelette available after a day of traveling?” McCollum continues. “Are the aesthetics and the service provided to the guests being done, top to bottom, with special care and attention?”
John DelMauro, senior vice president for conferences and events at SourceMedia in New York City, adds another element for planners to consider, too. Financial and insurance attendees enjoy venues that offer high-end amenities and exude continuous improvement initiatives through renovations and expansions of their facilities.
For example, DelMauro recently organized an event for Workplace Benefits Mania, a company that brings the top leaders in the benefits and insurance industry together and develops new relationships with people and organizations that will help them achieve new levels of success and service.
“From the combined resources of Employee Benefit Adviser and the Workplace Benefits Association, 600+ brokers, agents and advisors attend every year to discover the latest strategic approaches, tools and technologies to grow their practice,” DelMauro says.
This year the event took place at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Resort.
“We have worked with the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Resort on past events, and we continue to choose them as a partner due to their service, venue, rooms, room rate and overall experience for our attendees,” DelMauro says. “This hotel and venue allows us to give a first-class experience for our attendees outside of our event.” Some of these experiences include private invitation dinners in their restaurants, cocktail and networking events, and discounts to attend the shows that are being hosted onsite.
“The service and overall experience at the Wynn is by far the best in Las Vegas and The Strip,” DelMauro says. “You get the feeling of a boutique hotel from the service while providing you all of the best experiences, including restaurants, shows, pool and spa facilities, workout facilities, shopping and golf, and of course gaming. Feedback from our audience has always been very positive on their experience due to all of the exceptional experiences that the Wynn has to offer.”
Wynn Las Vegas offers 200,000 sf of convention space including two column-free ballrooms, 18 meeting rooms and two beautifully appointed boardrooms. At Encore, there is 60,000 sf of additional meeting space including three private boardrooms, 17 meeting rooms and a 20,650-sf column-free ballroom.
To meet the needs of their growing clientele, Mandalay Bay’s Convention Center recently expanded by 350,000 sf to a total of more than 2 million sf, enabling Mandalay Bay to accommodate existing customer growth needs as well as to attract new corporate and association business.
The expansion added new exhibit space, ballrooms and underground parking, and the project creates one of the most flexible, customer-focused convention facilities in North America.
At a cost of $70 million, the expansion also included a bandwidth increase to accommodate more attendees and allow for the most advanced presentations, while allowing seamless connectivity from convention space to public spaces to guest rooms.
Located adjacent to Mandalay Bay, the new non-smoking, all-suite luxury Delano Las Vegas hotel features 20,000 sf of indoor meeting space with 31 meeting rooms including four boardrooms plus engaging social locations. Blending signature elements of Delano South Beach with the distinct energy only found on the Las Vegas Strip, the hotel features dynamic social spaces such as 3940 Coffee + Tea and Della’s Kitchen, where “historic farmhouse meets urban kitchen.”
Just off the lobby is Franklin, a lounge that evolves throughout the day and offers a curated craft bar program, a menu of signature creations and a private group area.
The resort encourages groups to take their events outside to the new Delano Beach Club — the venue’s South Beach-inspired experience. From booking one of 16 private cabanas during the day to buying out the entire club for an evening reception, the luxurious pool retreat is a new take on the Las Vegas pool scene with whimsical elements such as an oversized chessboard atop the pool’s deck.
Delano’s Sage Living room, located within the four separate floors of the hotel’s meeting area, offers a chic and alternative space to gather with overstuffed couches, special chairs designed with lower-back support, end tables and coffee tables. The room, featuring two 52-inch, flat-screen TVs, can be used for presentations in a relaxed, comfortable environment.
The Mirage offers a dramatic setting for one-of-a-kind events at the hotel’s pool and at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat — both lush outdoor spaces. A facility fee allows guests full access and includes the services of the facility’s tour guides. Dolphin and tiger trainers are available to mingle and teach guests about the attraction’s creatures, for a fun and interactive experience. Guests may enjoy the creations of The Mirage’s talented culinary staff for an additional fee.
Home to some of the world’s most exotic animals including the Royal White Tigers of Nevada, the White Lions of the Timbavati and a family of bottlenose dolphins, Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden is ideal for private functions. The spectacular setting of the facility, complete with towering palm trees, verdant foliage and sparkling waters, can comfortably accommodate cocktail receptions for up to 500 people.
When not engaging with wild creatures, planners also can consider The Mirage Events Center for trade shows, exhibits, concerts and galas. The center boasts 90,000 sf of pillar-less space that can be partitioned into various configurations. Fully carpeted, The Mirage Events Center features state-of-the-art fiber optic, power, lighting and rigging support to accommodate the most complex shows and events.
The Forbes Four Star award-winning M Resort Spa Casino features more than 92,000 sf of open and dynamic meeting space along with multiple reception areas throughout the 90-acre resort. Venues include the 25,000-sf M Pavilion; 17,400-sf Milan ballroom; and a boardroom and convenient business center. Additional venues include Lux, set high atop the resort offering 7,200 sf of space; Villaggio Del Sole, the expansive outdoor pool and entertainment piazza; Vue, a multifaceted space with a private outdoor terrace; the Signature Room, as well as seven casino restaurants and five bars.
M Resort’s conference center encompasses multiple meeting rooms that can be configured to suit any need, as well as an exquisite boardroom and sprawling ballroom with a built-in stage to deliver special events with state-of-the-art audio-visual capability, videoconferencing and more.
After a recent expansion, Tropicana Las Vegas’ all-new conference facility is divisible into as many as 38 breakout rooms and includes a 25,000-sf ballroom, a 55,000-sf pavilion that is suitable for large general sessions and exhibits, and elaborate venues such as the Havana Room and Sky Beach Club.
The newly transformed Tropicana Theater is a modern-yet-classic venue featuring a magnificent crystal chandelier, custom banquette seating areas, dark wood flooring and premium audio-visual technology.
After a recent 30,000-sf expansion, the Trinidad Pavilion and meeting rooms boast 55,000 sf of space that works for general sessions, large-scale food and beverage functions, various attractions and sporting events. The venue can accommodate up to 4,800 attendees.
Overall, Tropicana Las Vegas offers more than 100,000 sf of flexible meeting and exhibition space in a convenient location on The Strip just minutes from the airport, major convention centers and top entertainment stadiums.
Both active and solitude-seeking attendees will appreciate The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa’s lakeside location, about 20 minutes east of the Las Vegas Strip in Henderson, Nevada. For outdoor enthusiasts, there’s standup paddleboarding (and SUP yoga), kayaking, boating, hiking and even a gondola adventure. The scenic Lake Mead National Recreation Area offering even more great outdoors activities is about 17 miles away. Area golf courses accessible to hotel guests include the Reflection Bay Golf Course, a half mile away. The resort’s Moroccan-inspired Spa Moulay offers a full menu of spa treatments, and guests will find multiple dining and shopping options in the nearby village of Montelago. The property offers 493 guest rooms, more than 100,000 sf of indoor and outdoor event space including gardens, terraces and more.
No meeting or event would be complete without memorable dining options. Celebrity chef Robert Irvine, host of Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible,” is teaming up with Tropicana Las Vegas to open his first signature restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip. Slated to open in 2017, Irvine will bring his nothing-is-impossible attitude to the all-new modern American-inspired restaurant set to debut on Tropicana’s casino floor.
W Las Vegas recently made its much anticipated debut by transforming a 289-room tower of SLS Las Vegas, to provide guests with an elevated hotel-within-a-hotel experience, located on the emerging North End of the Vegas Strip.
As such, W Las Vegas also offers three floors (and 15,000 sf) of brand new, state-of-the-art meeting and event space. The adjacent SLS Las Vegas hotel serves up an additional 80,000 sf of flexible meeting and event space, to play host to any size event.
The rooftop Wet Deck at W Las Vegas is an elite oasis for groups, providing an intimate escape to see and be seen in a private cabana or at the destination bar. Maximizing its North Strip location, the Wet Deck offers panoramic views of the Stratosphere and desert mountains, all from its discrete rooftop perch.
The hotel also provides meeting attendees with the ultimate insider access to Las Vegas, along with its renowned Whatever/Whenever service, offering guests whatever they want, whenever they want it. Guests can mix and mingle at world-class dining venues including Bazaar Meat by José Andrés; Katsuya; Cleo; Umami Burger; 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria; Northside Café & Chinese Kitchen; and The Perq; along with coveted nightlife and entertainment venues such as Foxtail, The Foundry and The Sayers Club, alongside the SLS Las Vegas casino space.
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Concerts on the Beach series will run through September on the Mandalay Bay Beach stage, which rises over the resort’s sand and surf wave pool. Performers include Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen, Lee Brice, Cole Swindell, Dustin Lynch, Brothers Osborne, Big & Rich and Chris Lane, among others.
Attendees now have the opportunity to learn the six steps to pour the perfect pint of Guinness with the Perfect Pint Experience at the newly redesigned Guinness Store, located next to Rí Rá Las Vegas inside The Shoppes at Mandalay Bay. The bar, fully equipped with three Guinness bar taps, is where guests can take part in the only “official” Perfect Pint Experience in the world outside of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. Packages are available for groups of 20 people or more. The “Guinness Store Exclusive” offers groups the option to rent out the entire store. For two hours, attendees can take part in the Perfect Pint Experience, enjoy delicious appetizers with pints of Guinness, and receive a 10 percent discount on all Guinness merchandise within the store.
Chef Charlie Palmer’s reimagined Aureole at the Mandalay Bay reopened in January. Chef Palmer renewed his commitment to preparing quality, local ingredients in a bold, American style. The transformed space offers three distinct dining experiences: an intimate bar and lounge area; a main dining room; and the fine dining Fountain Terrace, all highlighted with warm hues and wine-inspired design elements.
The Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, will debut new, immersive exhibits and experiences next year including multimedia displays, objects and artifacts, as well as a working distillery and speakeasy from the Prohibition Era. Guests will learn about bootlegging and rum running amid a working distillery producing a variety of spirits. In the speakeasy, guests will encounter exhibits documenting the culture of the 1920s while enjoying the ambience of a fully operational tavern. Thousands of these underground establishments operated in cities and towns across the country to satisfy the public’s thirst for beer, whiskey and other distilled spirits.
Allied eSports, a leading network of electronic sports venues (to host competitive video gaming), and Esports Arena announced plans for a new dedicated esports venue to be developed at Luxor Hotel and Casino. The new Esports Arena Las Vegas, scheduled to open in early 2018, will become the first permanent esports venue on The Strip and will be the center of Allied eSports’ growing global network of esports properties spanning North America, Europe and China.
Esports Arena Las Vegas will combine the best of interactive entertainment and Las Vegas nightlife, and become the global epicenter for esports experiences. With design and programming contributions from Allied eSports’ enterprises around the world, its North American arm Esports Arena will take the lead in bringing the Las Vegas concept to life.
To meet the growing trend of coworking pop-ups, The Venetian, The Palazzo and Sands Expo, in conjunction with Zappos, recently debuted a first-of-its-kind coworking space in the heart of The Venetian | The Palazzo Congress Center. The coworking space taps into a growing trend of creating collaborative workspaces that can be used on a temporary basis in addition to traditional offices.
The 1,170-sf pop-up lounge offers space to recharge, huddle areas for collaboration and a conference room for small meetings. The space is enclosed for noise management, but also is transparent to invite guests to come inside and take advantage of the amenities.
Comfort and functionality is at the backbone of this collaborative space, and amenities include Wi-Fi, charging stations, four private phone rooms and a private conference room that seats six.
Caesars Palace provides attendees the opportunity to satisfy their every craving with cuisine crafted by world-famous celebrity chefs at their award-winning restaurants that feature private dining rooms and are available for buyouts. Restaurants include Restaurant Guy Savoy, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill.
The Villas at Caesars Palace is an ideal high-end venue, with units ranging in size from 9,500 to 11,200 sf. Amenities include 24-hour butler service, bar and billiard area, spacious living and dining areas, private pools, patios and a personal entrance to the Caesars Palace’s Garden of the Gods pool. These suites are perfect for the best in luxury accommodations or for private events.
Caesars Entertainment is partnering with Three Square to donate surplus food items from conferences and events through Three Square’s Food Rescue program. As a contributor to the program, Caesars Entertainment is able to take further action towards their Code of Commitment with the ability to simultaneously help fight hunger and reduce waste in the community through their donations. The Food Rescue program is a safe and reliable donation outlet that sources edible food to feed hungry people in Southern Nevada. The Rio is the first Caesars Entertainment property to begin donating to Three Square with other Las Vegas properties to follow throughout 2017.
Called the “Biggest Little City in the World,” Reno is located at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, about one hour from Lake Tahoe. As the second largest tourist destination in Nevada, Reno offers an idyllic place to host meetings and events.
In fact, Grand Sierra Resort & Casino is a favorite option for hosting meetings and conventions thanks to its variety of unique meeting venues and recreational teambuilding activities.
The resort’s 50-lane GSR Bowling Center, located on the main floor of the resort, offers a fun way for groups to gather for a team event. The Lex Lounge and Lex Nightclub are two additional venues for receptions, parties or other events where attendees can relax while networking and socializing, in a fun, unconventional location. For a change of pace, Grand Adventure Land lets adults be kids again with competitive go-kart racing, thrill rides and miniature golf.
For a more luxurious experience, Peppermill Reno prides itself on offering an exemplary balance of service, luxury and value. By combining sophisticated technology, amenities and personalized services, meetings and events are memorable affairs at Peppermill. The resort boasts 106,000 sf of flexible meeting space, with breakout capacity for 36 rooms. The resort features three ballrooms, including the Tuscany Ballroom with 62,000 sf of clearspan meeting space — the largest in northern Nevada.
Continuous improvement is the cornerstone of Peppermill. In 2016, several major projects were completed at the family-owned resort including the redesign of Edge Nightclub — where 1920s style meets 2020 technology, providing an intimate and vibrant nightlife experience. The nightclub saw the addition of $150,000 in lighting, 440 sf of LED panels, custom-made damask wallpaper, original artwork from local artists, and handcrafted crystal chandeliers celebrate the art of nightlife. I&FMM