Las Vegas has launched a new booking incentives programme for travel agents called Learn and Earn, which educates agents about the destination and offers rewards for bookings.
“It’s a way for travel agents to earn points by booking Las Vegas trips, so they will learn the product, book the trips and that is verified by a third party so they can earn points for prizes, trips or a lot of different things,” said Heidi Hayes, director of communications, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “It’s an incentive for the travel agents to consider Las Vegas. We have this programme in the United States and we recently launched it in Canada, so this is our second international market. We’ll go to Australia and New Zealand next.”
The announcement comes as Vegas once again ramps up its offering. For sports fans, the destination will have its first NFL team in 2021 – The Raiders – with their own, brand new stadium, which will also host friendly games and serve as a concert venue. “A lot of the major stars, like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, even Springstein, they only play these huge venues, and we haven’t had those, so we’ll be able to host even more entertainment, even more headliners,” said Hayes.
Vegas as a rising sports destination comes amid a shift in perception – many teams have been reluctant to play here in the past due to “gaming” (fixed matches), but strict regulations have put an end to concerns. “It took a while to chip away at that, but then the NFL came along and said, ‘you know what, this is a great place to have a sports team’,” said Hayes. The NFL follows in the footsteps of the NHL (National Hockey League) and the Women’s NBA (National Basketball League), which already have a presence here.
Sport tourism is a market the destination is keen to tap into – particularly tourists who may not have considered the city as a place to enjoy a game. “You have multiple sporting events. We have one weekend in March where we have NASCAR, which is race cars, we have UFC, which is fighting, we used to have Recce 7, which might go away for a while but it’ll come back, and we also have hockey. So you can go to Vegas for three or four days and witness three or four different sporting events. It’s the great thing about Las Vegas; we were built to host people. We can have multiple major events in the destination at once and you don’t even blink,” said Hayes.
It’s true that Vegas is adept at handling high visitor numbers. The destination has nearly 150,000 hotel rooms and runs at an occupancy rate of 86 to 88 percent, which is higher than any other destination in the United States. “We used to be able to say that our peak times were spring and fall, but we can’t say that anymore – it really is a year-round destination, and the different events that we have really speak to that,” said Hayes.