A recent long weekend in Las Vegas prompted me to ask the same questions I’ve had from previous visits. No matter how I try, I can’t wrap my head around some of the stuff that goes on. No, not the baudy behavior of the Millennials who now flock here. Nor the continuing growth of the Strip. It seems there can never be enough accommodations or Cirque de Soleil shows.
I’m stumped over things that seem simple, yet aren’t…
1. Why people bring their children. Help me out here. Besides an irresistible all-paid trip to a conference, why would you even want to bring children to Las Vegas? There is NOTHING here for kids, beyond the pool. A decade or so ago, Las Vegas tried–unsuccessfully–to rebrand itself as a “family friendly” distinction. Big mistake. Las Vegas has always been an Adult Destination. When children are not even remotely allowed in casinos, there’s precious little to amuse the kiddos. You can only visit the M & M Store so many times. Heaven help you if the weather’s not water-worthy. Yet parents continue to haul their children to a city that is made for adults. Only. Adults. And adults go there to be, well, adult. Why would anyone want to expose their kids to the stuff that goes on? How much fun can it be for the parents not to be able to enjoy those adult pleasures themselves? And what to you say in the face of the the antics that go on…because many people tend to believe the “What happens in Vegas…” tagline?
2. Why folks stand in line to pay $50 for a breakfast buffet. Gone are the days of the $1.99 breakfast and $.99 shrimp cocktail. The idea was to draw in visitors to gamble. Now, people spend 1.5 times as much on food and clubs than slots or craps. Hotels have recruited big-name chefs to set up restaurants–and the prices reflect it. From morning to night, everything is expensive. One morning’s none-buffet breakfast: $91! ($5 coffee and $8 juice–times two–jacked the price up faster than you could say “Royal Flush.”) Maybe people figure that $50 (before tip) for a breakfast buffet that includes shrimp and tiny crab legs is part of the experience. Dropping a “benjamin” for a few trips to get eggs, bacon, pad thai, cold cuts, and sweet rolls might make one feel like a high roller. It makes me feel like I’ve been bamboozled. At least the coffee is included! Let me continue: food is outrageous. One meal featured $21 for a glass of chianti to go with the $32 spaghetti and meatballs. Salad? Only $15 more. I could go on and on, but you’re smart people. Interestingly, there’s a snappy new White Castle on the Strip–so popular, that it has had to close twice. Ran out of burgers.
3. Why critics predict the demise of Vegas. Aside from the serious water shortage that doesn’t seem to slow down the growing number of fountains, gardens, and pools of the hotels, someone is always moaning that Las Vegas has changed and is going under. I have noticed that the grumps tend to be Boomers, who aren’t happy with the changes that city planners have made. But with 40 million visitors a year–spending $27.4 billion–it’s hard to see signs of crumble. What is happening? Make way for the Millennials! More bars, more chains such as Señor Frogs, more trips with friends instead of spouses. Beach clubs and night clubs abound. For a $50+ entry, you can dance and mingle, from noon into the early morning. Grand driveways have given way to sidewalk beer stands. Real estate is too valuable for free stuff, such as the former Pirate Ship Battle in front of Treasure Island. Las Vegas has always evolved to entice people to visit. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t founded as a major conference destination, but now who doesn’t get excited when Las Vegas is announced as the site for a meeting? If you loved the Vegas of the past, you likely won’t be thrilled with the changes. A smart “brand” adapts to target demographics…and Las Vegas is definitely a brand.
It’s not going anywhere, baby .