Governor a no-show, but tourism sessions spark interest

It was called the State of Nevada Governor’s Conference on Tourism, but alas, there was no governor.

No, our fair leader, Brian Sandoval, had to cancel his address Wednesday afternoon because of weather concerns in Carson City.

This isn’t the first time a governor has missed the tourism conference.

In the past ten years or so, the state’s leader only has made it to the event about 50 percent of the time, according to the Nevada Commission on Tourism. There were, however, plenty of other sessions to keep attendees busy this year at the conference that ran through Thursday at Red Rock Resort.

On Wednesday, Chuck Underwood gave multiple sessions about multigenerational marketing, a topic that seemed to resonate with the many generations attending the conference. On Thursday, Peter Tarlow talked tourism safety.

Tarlow, founder of Tourism & More, is an industry consultant and speaker who specializes in tourism security. Twenty years ago he founded the International Tourism Safety Conference in Las Vegas, an event with spinoff conferences held all over the world. The spinoff conferences often are referred to as the Las Vegas model, which is important because it helps brand the city as a center for tourism safety, Tarlow said.

“If you are not secure, people will not come,” he told the group.

During his session, Tarlow offered tidbits to the attendees, such as placing more signage around destinations can increase visitor safety. He also gave a few examples of case studies featuring locations that had tourism safety issues. Specifically, he used Honolulu and New York City as two examples of places that cleaned up and reaped economic rewards.

He cited the Caribbean as a locale that still is known for overcharging guests, having lousy customer service and being dangerous. As a result, it’s losing tourism market share. Studies have found that the higher the police presence in a destination, the more visitors report having a good time, spend more money and have a higher tendency to want to return. Tarlow referred to the Canadian Mounties as an example of a destination using their police force as a form of positive branding.

“The goal is not to solve crimes, it’s to prevent crimes,” Tarlow said.

As founder and principal of Generational Imperative, Underwood began studying generations more than two decades ago.

If you’re not marketing according to your target generation, potential customers might not buy that plane ticket. Underwood said businesses need to appeal to a generation’s core values that were formed during the formative years specific to their lives.

“If in business you want to target a generation, you need to get in its head,” Underwood said.

His marketing strategy is to identify a target generation, select one or more of their core values and ensure the message resonates with those core values. This strategy works for Americans and English-speaking Canadians only.

“Generational messaging cuts through the clutter,” Underwood said.

During his session he showed attendees an Ameriprise case study where the company’s commercial targeted to boomers featured Dennis Hopper talking about the Dream Book, encouraging potential customers to build the retirement they want.

“Boomers came of age when kids could dream big and not get burned by doing so,” Underwood said.

The Ameriprise ads were effective, and appealed to a generation that wasn’t interested in hearing about retirement in traditional terms.

For their part, GenXers are terribly fickle.

“The moment you lose them, they’re gone,” Underwood said.

They’re less likely to book a group tour, but their younger counterparts, the millennials, tend to enjoy group activities. Because millennials were hammered by the recent recession, most are underemployed and still trying to recover, so they’re more likely to keep close watch over their money.

In terms of tourism, they want authentic experiences that are new and unique. Underwood said researchers don’t yet know who millennials will be in the long term in terms of travel and gambling because of the recession and how it affected their generation.

“They’re still hurting,” he said.

Early studies have shown they may only look at gambling as a brief diversion and look at it just that way: as gambling, not gaming. Gaming to millennials is playing a video game such as “Call of Duty.”

Underwood said any generational study only works for those 18 and over.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.