For Karla Singson, a former meeting planner at Snap Events, Las Vegas has a brand all its own. Well loved by meeting planners, producers and attendees, Las Vegas is truly a tourist- and meetings-friendly destination that offers a variety of options for lodging, entertainment and event venues, as well as different choices and different price points for each. And as Las Vegas continues to reopen after COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, insurance and financial meeting planners are once again setting their sights on this memorable city as their next meeting and event destination.
From the unique cultural vibes gracing the hotspots of Las Vegas to its award-winning gaming and entertainment options, to its awe-inspiring cuisine, Las Vegas is the ideal location for financial and insurance groups of all sizes. For Singson, the biggest thing about Las Vegas that stands out in the minds of meetings and events attendees is the ability of the city to encourage you to “live larger.” “Las Vegas makes anybody feel like they’re a ‘somebody,’” Singson says. “There’s luxury, fun, great food, and a wide variety of experiences for everyone here, plus, in my experience, the customer service is superior.”
Deven Crane, director of travel services and meeting planner at Incentive Solutions, agrees that the level of options that Las Vegas offers — both from the meeting planner and attendee perspectives — simply can’t be beat. “Las Vegas is the city that never sleeps. There are usually lots of options from high-class hotels to budget-friendly ones that all share the same ‘space’ — the Strip,” Crane says. “If planners want to offer food, golf, skiing and helicopters or even firing assault rifles at targets in the desert — it is all available to offer their clients. The hotels and other vendors are professionals who do this day in and day out, so there is that experience level that planners can count on. And the food is usually above average to excellent.”
Crane has had the opportunity to organize a couple of national sales meetings for clients in Las Vegas, and they operated very well. One was on the Strip and one was off, and while both were successful, both had challenges. “The meeting done off of the Strip was a smaller group, fitting nicely into a boutique hotel. While there were options at the hotel to take part in, they were also partly isolated from the Strip, thus attendance at the meetings generally was 100%,” Crane says. “The meeting on the Strip was larger and offered unlimited function space. Sometimes, people would fail to meet the meeting agenda as offered due to lots of other things to focus their attention toward. However, Las Vegas does offer all of this for a reason, and options are what people like. Some gamble, some go to shows, some shop and others hang out at the pool. There’s something for everyone.”
Meeting planners can make their jobs easier when planning events in Las Vegas by hiring concierge services, talking to hotel concierge officers, and pre-booking accommodations and activities online. “Of course, the best is still getting local input from a friend or a colleague,” Singson says.
Crane adds that it’s important to remember that there is a definite price difference between properties. What matters most to the attendees is location, food and beverage, and entertainment, so take all this into consideration before booking a venue. “Some groups want to only be on the Strip, thus you wouldn’t book Green Valley Ranch for them. Food and beverage can be pricey, so make sure to note that when budgeting,” Crane says. “Las Vegas offers some of the most expensive and finest hotels anywhere, so I’d suggest offering a variety of options to decision makers as a way to manage costs based on priorities.” Crane also advises planners to divide the time evenly between meetings and free time. People want to be able to explore their surroundings without time pressure. Group all of the meetings in the morning or on one day, which will offer the attendees the option to explore Las Vegas. “Also, take advantage of the unusual activities that Las Vegas presents, including day trips, culinary, helicopters, shopping — the list goes on and on. Most importantly, have fun,” Crane says.
Charlotte Smith, U.S. account director at Your Event Solutions (YES), says Las Vegas is great for large events in that you can find the meeting space and large room blocks within one facility. Transportation is easy, and the entire city is focused around events, so there are a multitude of options and suppliers for all budgets. “Other city-center options sometimes require you to split large groups between hotels or limit meeting space, which makes for logistical challenges,” Smith says. “Las Vegas is an exception. There are also plenty of dining options and entertainment within close proximity outside of the hotels if you have evening programs as part of the event.”
And like other travel destinations, Las Vegas venues continue to focus on reopening existing venues, shows and experiences throughout their resorts in the coming months, and welcoming back events, meetings and conventions. Indeed, Las Vegas is working hard to “woo” potential visitors back to enjoy all the city has to offer. To help alleviate any health concerns on the part of meeting planners or attendees, extensive safety protocols have been developed throughout all hotels and venues in the area.
Although the pandemic has certainly impacted the travel industry, certain entities in Las Vegas continue their development plans. The re-conceptualized casino resort, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Curio Collection by Hilton, has made its long-anticipated arrival. The property can host events of all sizes, with 110,000 sf of re-inspired indoor and outdoor meetings and convention space. In addition to its state-of-the-art, 60,000-sf Mohegan Sun Casino, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas also offers multiple entertainment venues, including The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, 24 Oxford and The Event Lawn. The hotel also features more than 1,500 all-new “chambers” and suites, an exclusive day spa, outdoor pools, 12 world-class dining venues — many with indoor/outdoor spaces — and daytime and nighttime live entertainment venues.
Another new venue, Resorts World Las Vegas, is a $4.3 billion, integrated resort experience. It brings three of Hilton’s premium brands, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, LXR Hotels & Resorts, and Conrad Hotels & Resorts, to Las Vegas, making Las Vegas the only city in the U.S. to have all three of Hilton’s luxury brands. The 3,500-room resort includes a gaming floor, state-of-the-art theater, grand ballroom, nightclubs, a wellness spa and fitness center, diverse culinary experiences, seven outdoor pools and more top-notch facilities.
Of course, no visit to Las Vegas would be complete without stepping foot in Caesars Palace Las Vegas, which boasts the 50,000-sf Que Baths & Spa, as well as the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis, which includes seven different pool experiences, cabanas and ideal sunbathing spots. When it’s time for gathering for the scheduled meeting or event, Caesar’s Palace features 300,000 sf of meeting space. The 51,000-sf, pillar-less Octavius and Forum Ballrooms can each accommodate as many as 5,555 attendees, and can be reconfigured into as many as 25 separate breakout rooms. Caesars Palace’s Stadia bar offers a next-level sports viewing experience with lavish amenities, and meeting attendees can catch the big game in style with Stadia’s rentable spaces to create an intimate viewing experience for small groups.
A longtime favorite in Las Vegas is the Tropicana Las Vegas – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Resort, which underwent an expansion that includes an all-new conference facility that can be divided into as many as 38 breakout rooms; a 25,000-sf ballroom; and a 24,000-sf pavilion perfect for large general sessions and exhibits. The Tropicana has introduced its newest meeting space, the Trinidad Pavilion & Meeting Rooms, which can accommodate a maximum of 2,700 attendees in a theater-style set up, and up to 1,400 attendees for a classroom-style set up. After a recent 30,000-sf expansion, the Trinidad Pavilion and Meeting Rooms offer 55,000-sf of space ideal for hosting general sessions, large-scale food and beverage functions, various attractions and sporting events, and connects to Tropicana’s existing pavilion. What’s more, Tropicana’s Havana Room, an elegant space that boasts a magnificent crystal chandelier, is surrounded by more than 40 custom-built banquette-seating areas and multiple full-service bars. Also, the Havana Room can accommodate up to 300 attendees seated, and 800 reception style.
Another new venue ideal for group gatherings is downtown Las Vegas’ newest casino, Circa Resort & Casino, which offers its 777-room hotel tower and rooftop lounge, Legacy Club. Standing at an impressive 458 feet tall, the hotel also boasts a 365-day/year pool experience; a two-story casino and several original food and beverage concepts.
To take in the sights of Las Vegas, the majority of the rooms and suites at the M Resort Spa Casino offer views through floor-to-ceiling windows, and most of the resort’s restaurants feature outdoor dining on terraces that overlook the 100,000-sf pool and events piazza. As far as meeting space goes, M Resort features more than 92,000 sf of flexible space, including the 25,000-sf M Pavilion and LUX special event venues, as well as a 17,400-sf ballroom, multiple reception areas and a convenient business center.
And at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, planners can configure the 560,000 sf of flexible space to meet their specific layout needs. This space includes 57 scaled meeting rooms, a 20,000-sf outdoor pavilion with an adjacent 20,000-sf lawn and four expansive, pillar-less ballrooms. Recently named the largest five-star resort in the world, Wynn Las Vegas also offers the opportunity of hosting events poolside with its 45,000-sf outdoor pool deck.
Hotels and resorts aside, T-Mobile Arena will play host to more than 100 events a year. In addition, meeting planners can explore the availability of hosting gatherings in T-Mobile Arena’s luxury suites and specially designed areas for groups, including Toshiba Plaza, an adjacent 2-acre outdoor entertainment space, which features performance stages, a variety of video screens, and other interactive content and display areas.
Looking for a similar vibe as Las Vegas, but on a slightly smaller scale? Reno may be the perfect fit. Located near Lake Tahoe and its plethora of mountains, Reno, nicknamed the “Biggest Little City in the World,” also once held the title of the gaming capital of the world until Las Vegas entered the picture.
Today, Reno is an ideal location for those seeking similar entertainment experiences and venues as Las Vegas, but in a smaller locale. And, the meetings and events venues Reno offers are award-winning options that have visitors’ health and well-being top of mind. For instance, Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, located within minutes of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, has developed GSR Clean, a program that enhances the resort’s rigorous sanitation protocols, and implements social distance considerations and hundreds of additional practices to minimize risk for guests and team members. Grand Sierra is an all-encompassing venue boasting more than 200,000 sf of meeting and convention space, including 45 meeting rooms in the resort’s convention center that can accommodate groups ranging from 10 to 4,000 attendees.
Reno’s Peppermill Resort Spa Casino is teeming with Tuscan-style luxury — including its hand-painted Italian art throughout the 600 Tuscan Tower suites — and offers more than 106,000 sf of meeting space. The resort’s Tuscany Ballroom features Northern Nevada’s largest clear-span meeting space at 62,000 sf. In addition, Peppermill features the fourth-floor Capri Ballroom; the newly renovated Sorrento, Naples and Capri Ballrooms; the intimate, White Orchid Private Dining Room, and the 17th-floor, two-story executive boardroom.
Nearby, the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno is another perfect option for corporate meetings, trade shows, conventions, as well as smaller affairs. The Atlantis resort includes two ballrooms — the Grand Ballroom and Paradise Ballroom — 22 meeting rooms, a high-tech executive boardroom and a fully functional business center. The resort’s more than 50,000 sf of flexible meeting space includes the aforementioned ballrooms, as well as the Promenade pre-function space, and multiple breakout rooms that can accommodate as many as 1,500 attendees. What’s more, Atlantis is Reno’s only resort connected to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, via a glass-enclosed Sky Bridge, adding an additional 600,000 sf of available space for meetings and conventions.
And while Reno is famous for its world-class hotels, resorts and casinos, the area also offers a wealth of unique activities and entertainment options for attendees. From skiing in nearby Tahoe to exploring the many outdoor hiking and nature activities, to visiting the various museums dotting the area — visitors to the Reno area will find a multitude of opportunities for fun and relaxation. I&FMM