When it Comes to Millennials, Bet the House on Las Vegas

By Brian Wise Sales Manager, Infor CX | November 25, 2018

Hospitality marketers are currently facing a more challenging landscape than ever when it comes to attracting and appealing to millennials. The methods used for generations past are proving to be irrelevant for this current audience, not just in where they are going, but why. A recent article from Gary Green, renowned casino expert and host of "Casino Rescue," depicts this conundrum as it relates to one of the most famous vacation destinations – Las Vegas.

Gary states, "A new breed of visitor is showing up (in Las Vegas) … to enjoy the good rooms, food, and shows but ? and this is where it hurt ? not to gamble." Because of that, Gary concludes ". . . Millennials are NOT flocking to casinos; nor should anyone with a grasp on reality expect them to … or spend a lot of money to attract them."

But, as famous baby boomer, Kevin Costner, said before setting off on his own construction spree in one of his signature roles: "If you build it, they will come." This same motto that inspired Kevin Costner's character can now be used to attract millennials – to Las Vegas, or any other destination.

It is first important to understand who the millennial traveler is. No one explains this better than Resonance Consultancy in their 2018 Report, The Future of US Millennial Travel, which concluded millennials ages 20 to 36 prefer urban locations, included amenities and an abundance of activity options.

Viva la Cities?

Per the report, over the next two years, millennials are just as likely to flock to a major metropolitan city (38 percent) as they are a beach resort (40 percent). According to World Travel Monitor, city trips soared by 82 percent between 2007 and 2014, with 2007 being the year when older millennials graduated college and entered the workforce.

While Las Vegas ranks 27th in size for U.S. cities and does not seem to fit the definition of "major metropolitan area," metropolitan cities are ranked by population. By combining visitor numbers with population numbers, not only do two new cities appear on the list (Orlando and Anaheim), but Las Vegas moves up in rank to the 9th largest U.S. city, with 44,404,336 total population throughout the year.

This figure only grows with affluence. The famous phrase – "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas"- also applies to the funds in your checking account. Those funds help pay the salaries of hotel workers, dealers and pit bosses, security guards, parking attendants, and wait staff at restaurants. The more hard-earned dollars that visitors leave in Las Vegas each year, the more people restaurants, casinos, and hotels can hire. And a quick count of the number of construction cranes lined up along The Strip is indicative that the city is growing.

Why Las Vegas

If you have ever been to Las Vegas, you can probably skip ahead, but for those who have not, these below reasons explicitly point to why the city is a millennial's dream destination. Looking at the report's survey results of desirable hotel amenities, it becomes pretty clear:

  1. Free WiFi (68 percent)
  2. Privacy (67 percent)
  3. Swimming pool (50 percent)
  4. Walking distance to shopping/restaurants (45 percent)
  5. Proximity to must-see transactions (45 percent)
  6. All-inclusive packages (45 percent)
  7. Hotel restaurants (39 percent)
  8. Within walking distance of public transportation (39 percent)
  9. Suites with kitchenettes
  10. Lobby lounge and bar

If privacy is important to you, you should probably tell your millennial friends to not take advantage of the free WiFi available everywhere to document everything and anything via social channels. The aforementioned unwritten rule must not apply to the 11 percent of respondents that share images hourly, or the 43 percent who share images daily interviewed inResonance'ssurvey.

What is there to do in Las Vegas?

Name one other place where you can take a gondola ride through the Grand Canal on your way to a high-end luxury shop to buy a new bathing suit for your fourth pool party of the week, where you cross the road in front of the Eiffel Tower on the way back to your suite at Caesars Palace to get changed (not before stopping for a drink in the lobby bar) and then enjoy a good meal at Mr. Chow.

Per the report, Millennials responded to a survey of activities based on if they (a) enjoy the activity occasionally, (b) enjoy the activity regularly, or (c) would like to try the activity. The survey results were as follows:

We have already covered dining, sightseeing, and shopping, but what about some of the others?

Nightlife

Seven of the 10 nightclubs in the US are in Las Vegas, including the top 4 (#1 XS, #2 Hakkasan, #3 Marquee, #4 Tao). Las Vegas tip: Don't go too hard at the pool party so you can enjoy the nightlife.

Fun attractions

Las Vegas is an attraction in itself, but if you need an adrenaline shot, you will soon be able to ride a 1,050 foot-long zip line above the outdoor promenade at Caesars new millennial-inspired hotel, Linq. A short distance from there, you will be able to see plenty of attractions with a ride on the world's largest observation wheel.

If you do not want to skip they gym while on vacation, you can sign up for yoga aboard the High Roller Observation Wheel - where now you will be able to view all of Las Vegas from the downward-facing dog position.

Watching live sports

Last year was the historic inaugural season of the Las Vegas Knights, the city's new NHL team. And now any NFL fan will be able to start watching the Las Vegas-bound Raiders beginning in 2020. We may even see Canelo vs. Golovkin II before the team's first home game.

Participating in outdoor sports

Las Vegas is now home to what Golf Digest calls the world's most insane driving range, as well as some incredible bowling.

You will also soon be able to visit Wynn's $1.5B lagoon theme park in 2020, where you can enjoy water sports, football fields, white sand beaches, and much more.

Attending cultural events and performances

And if that is not enough, do not worry. Starting in 2020, you will be able to stay at Resorts World Las Vegas, an Asian-influenced mega resort where you'll find a range of cultural attractions, events, and performances. It is also just a short walk to a concert at the new MSG Sphere, an 18,000-seat mega arena.

The takeaway: Millennials are worth the gamble

So, let us circle back to Gary Green's points:

1   - "If history and data hold true, the 28-year-old millennials will not be flocking to our casinos for another 25 years."

2.  - "We have a quarter of a century before we can reasonably expect them to show up at the casino. In the meantime, they have other things to do with what little money they have."

Las Vegas casinos should not immediately write off the millennial visitor. Vegas gambling revenue increased 23 percent from 1995 to 2004 (the last year most millennials were still below legal gambling age). From 2005 to 2017, Las Vegas gambling revenue increased only 15 percent. This seems to support Gary Green's contention. But keep in mind the following:

·    - In 2016, millennials made up nearly as large a share of Las Vegas visitors (34 percent) as the baby boomer generation for the first time.

·    - In 2017, 45 percent of Las Vegas visitors were under the age of 40.

·   - Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of 2017 visitors said they gambled while in Las Vegas, up from 69 percent the previous year.

·    - ONLY one in six (17 percent) visitors to Las Vegas in 2017 were retired.

But are millennials gambling? In 2016, the first year on record where the number of millennial visitors to Las Vegas roughly equaled the number of baby boomer visitors, Las Vegas casinos saw a decrease in time spent gambling. However, the average amount that visitors budgeted to gamble was $619 in 2016 – compared to $581 in 1996. Also, keep in mind that in 2018, Millennials will have more spending power than Baby Boomers and that 72 percent of Millennials prefer to spend on experiences rather than things. Finally, millennials are the only generation to report an increase in annual intended travel (+8 percent).

Las Vegas may not have to wait a full 25 years before they see millennial gamblers at the tables and slots. Casino owners should be optimistic about the enormous opportunity ahead. As far as bets go, this one seems as close to a sure thing as you can get.

Mr. Wise Brian Wise is the Sales Manager for the Infor Customer Experience Suite of products. In this role, he focuses on providing solutions to clients in the hospitality and travel industry that allow them to deliver targeted, personalized messages to their customers across all channels. Mr. Wise brings more than a decade of experience and a passion for engagement marketing. Previously, he has held positions at PepsiCo managing key customer relationships and developing strategic account plans, WB Mason, and most recently, Oracle where he managed Oracle Customer Experience Solutions for emerging businesses. He has a bachelor of arts from The University of New Hampshire. Brian Wise can be contacted at 617-774-8808 or brian.wise@infor.com Extended Biography

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