Las Vegas eyes NHL expansion as draw for Canadians

Las Vegas eyes NHL expansion as draw for Canadians
Of the LVCVA: Charmaine Singh, account director; Fernando Hurtado, international market manager; Stephanie Freed-Burns, PR manager – Canada; David Han, senior account manager, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Hockey-themed travel ideas and the value of the dollar was among the talk last night, as the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority welcomed members of the Canadian travel industry to a Toronto rooftop venue to showcase what’s new on the Strip and beyond.

Twenty-four Las Vegas partners met with travel agents during the event held at Toronto’s Lavelle restaurant, which featured a cooking demonstration by Executive Chef Romain Avril producing a tuna tartare which partners were then tasked with replicating for prizes.

Partners in attendance included SLS Las Vegas; The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas; Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino; The Orleans Hotel and Casino; South Point Hotel; The Venetian Las Vegas; Suncoast Hotel and Casino; Caesars Entertainment; MGM Resorts; W Las Vegas; Hard Rock Hotel & Casino; Le Rêve - The Dream (Wynn Las Vegas); Las Vegas Monorail; Cirque du Soleil; Gray Line Las Vegas; Grand Canyon Helicopters/Grand Canyon Airlines; Destination Las Vegas Group; Machine Guns Vegas; Pole Position Raceway; BASE Entertainment; Miracle Mile Shops; NV Division of Tourism - Travel Nevada; Sundance Helicopters; and Elite Status Group.

Las Vegas partners and VIP guests try their hand at recreating Chef Romain Avril's tuna tartare

The evening also served as an introduction for Fernando Hurtado, the LVCVA’s international market manager for the Americas, who recently added Canada to his responsibilities. While selling Vegas to Canadians is hardly difficult – Canada is Las Vegas’ top inbound market, with 1.5 million Canadians visiting the destination in 2016 – Hurtado told PAX that the value of the dollar has provided challenges, a problem which can be countered with the wide range of price points offered throughout the city’s variety of accommodations and attractions.

“Agents are of course very aware of Las Vegas and the biggest concern is always can they make it fit within their clients’ budgets,” he said. “It’s that constant reminder that even the three-star properties have gorgeous, spacious rooms and at the end of the day, you’re only in the room to sleep. There’s also so many free entertainment options in the city, from the fountains at the Belagio to every first Friday downtown, where there’s a collection of artists and food trucks, to the Freemont Street Experience.

“It’s important to remember that Las Vegas is great for all budget types,” he continued. “The average daily rate in Las Vegas is incredible compared to other major U.S. cities. You’ll see well over $200 in San Francisco, Chicago and New York, while Las Vegas comes in at an average of $125 and we’re talking four- and five-star properties.”

Also of note for Canadians is the city’s incoming NHL expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights, who will make their debut this fall. The expansion offers a new tourist draw which Hurtado said is already becoming the centerpiece of group travel ideas among tour operators looking to bring Canadian hockey fans south to watch their teams take on the Knights.

“It’s such a new thing for Las Vegas and we can’t wait until the schedule comes out,” Hurtado told PAX. “People are already getting ideas of how to build group packages for when Canadian teams will be coming down.”