105°F
weather icon Clear

Many jobs lost when Las Vegas trade show industry shuts down

Updated March 27, 2020 - 9:04 am

When the National Association of Broadcasters made its difficult decision to cancel rather than delay its convention planned for late April, thousands of laborers lost work.

The lost space rental revenue for the Las Vegas Convention Center and the thousands of missed room nights for local resorts have been widely recognized, but many more are missing job opportunities that occur when a monster show such as NAB — one of Southern Nevada’s top five annual shows — comes to town.

The meetings and events industry is reeling from the high number of cancellations related to coronavirus concerns. Meetingsnet.com estimates that the industry will lose $233 billion by this summer.

The U.S. Travel Association said 5.9 million jobs would be lost in the travel industry, which includes the meetings and conventions sector. That represents a $900 billion loss in 2020 — seven times the amount lost in the 9/11 attacks.

The Governor’s Office on Economic Development said the loss of 400,000 tourism industry jobs, including in the meetings, conventions and trade show sector, would result in a $34 billion loss for Nevada.

While some trade shows are finding alternative dates instead of canceling, others, including NAB, aren’t. That will probably prevent Las Vegas from eclipsing 2019’s record 6.6 million convention visitors, as it was anticipating this year.

Lost jobs

Among the contracted workers who miss out when a show cancels, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority:

■ Electricians, plumbers, carpet layers and workers who build exhibitors’ booths and other show components.

■ Service providers that work with exhibitors, including Cox Communications for broadband services, Centerplate for food and beverages, FedEx for transporting goods and documents and American Express for on-site financial transactions.

■ Security officers, who are hired by show managers to ensure access and control of show floors, assisting LVCVA security officers.

■ Transportation workers who shuttle conventioneers from hotels to convention centers. Taxicab and ride-hailing service drivers also aren’t making runs between resorts and McCarran International Airport.

■ Cleaners hired by show managers to keep exhibit floors clean, in addition to LVCVA custodial workers tasked with overall facility cleanliness.

■ Floral decorators hired to enhance booth appearance.

■ Tent companies used by exhibitors to set up facilities in parking lots and other external locations.

■ Furniture providers used by show managers and exhibitors to create office environments for business meetings.

■ Voice and acting talent used to deliver monologues about products in specialized booth presentations.

■ Photographers hired by show managers and exhibitors to memorialize events.

■ Other tourism-related companies. Thousands of visitors — especially from overseas — take advantage of Las Vegas’ proximity to the Grand Canyon to take helicopter trips before or after a convention or on slow days during a show.

■ Registration staff hired to register exhibitors and attendees, distribute credentials and provide wayfinding assistance.

■ Audiovisual production professionals to provide various display and messaging services for exhibitors.

■ Freight companies to deliver large booth components. Truck drivers often arrive early in Las Vegas and park their rigs before they are marshaled to deliver to exhibit halls in well-timed and choreographed sequences.

■ Temporary laborers to supplement booth staffing.

“The list goes on and on and on,” said David DuBois, CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, an organization affiliated with the $300 billion global meetings industry. “We refer to it as (the industry) having a long tail, and in this case, it’s an ugly tail.”

Impact of cancellations

How long will workers be affected in Southern Nevada?

It’s a fair question that two of the city’s largest event management companies — Freeman Company LLC and GES-Global Experience Specialists — can’t answer.

“We haven’t communicated at all with employees about when we expect them to be back, because we don’t know,” said Lea Lashley, communications director for Dallas-based Freeman, which was contracted to manage NAB. “A lot of shows have canceled, and a lot of people have postponed. We understand that a lot of our customers don’t know how this is going to impact their business, and they don’t know what they’re going to do next. We don’t talk on behalf of our customers, so we’re not going to do that now.”

Freeman’s CEO, Bob Priest-Heck, said in a statement that among the options the company is keeping open is providing support for online meetings.

No answers

Detra Page, a spokeswoman for Las Vegas-based GES, also said it’s too early to project when and how shows would return.

“We’re working with our clients,” Page said. “If they need to postpone, we’re assisting them to reschedule their events. But now, it’s too soon to predict when the shows will be back as they were.”

A Harris poll conducted the weekend of March 21-23 indicated it could take two to three months for Americans to attend large social gatherings once government restrictions are lifted.

According to the poll, after two to three months, nearly a fifth of Americans said they would host or attend a large social gathering (22 percent), go to the movies (21 percent), greet people with a handshake (21 percent), stay in a hotel (20 percent) or go to a sporting event (17 percent).

Fifteen percent of Americans said it would take two to three months for them to be able to visit a casino or take public transportation again.

Uncertainties surrounding the novel coronavirus leave DuBois with nothing definitive.

“I’m an association executive with a hospitality industry background of 40 years, and I’m not even going to guess how long it’s going to be,” he said. “We have moved events out of March, April and May into the fall, so my best guess is that it’s going to last through the end of May and it’ll take three to six months for companies to build their business back up to the way it was in 2019, and it may even take longer than that.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Allegiant Stadium lanai doors open revealing Al Davis Memorial Torch
On Wednesday Allegiant Stadium opened its massive lanai doors revealing the 85-foot-tall Al Davis Memorial Torch and a peek inside the $2 billion, 65,000 fan capacity indoor stadium.
Status of renters and homeowners during COVID19 pandemic - Video
Rj reporter Eli Segall discusses how COVID19 is affecting renters and homeowners in Nevada. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Health experts: Smoking in casinos should be banned - Video
Experts say smoking can spread the COVID-19 coronavirus. But not because of airborne particulates. The virus could spread from a smoker’s likely pattern of fingers-to-mouth-to-gaming-device. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights’ empathy questioned
A sports talk host called this week a public relations disaster for the Knights and a tourism official said it may shorten the honeymoon period between the team and its devoted fan base.
Chinese visitors in Las Vegas - Video
There were 236,970 visitors from China in Las Vegas in 2018, according to data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Resorts World Las Vegas lights up - Video
Construction crews tested exterior lights at Resorts World on the Las Vegas Strip, May 19. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Station Casinos releases health and safety plan for reopening - Video
Station Casinos rolled out new health and safety protocols Monday morning, May 18, including the use of thermal scanners, testing all employees for COVID-19 and “enhanced cleaning technologies.” (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Maverick Helicopters offers 250 free tours for two - VIDEO
Maverick Helicopters will restart its flights on Friday, according to a news release. To celebrate, Maverick will give away 250 flights for two with its “Our Vegas” promotion. (James Schaffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts to bring back free parking on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
MGM Resorts on Monday announced free parking for all guests at its Strip resorts for the foreseeable future. New York-New York and Bellagio are the first announced hotels to reopen for casino business and return to the golden days of no-cost parking.
Laughlin’s iconic Colorado Belle to stay closed indefinitely - VIDEO
The Colorado Belle, an iconic hotel-casino on the Colorado River in Laughlin, will stay closed for the foreseeable future and lay off its 400 workers. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Laughlin’s iconic Colorado Belle to stay closed indefinitely; 400 to lose jobs - VIDEO
The Colorado Belle, an iconic hotel-casino on the Colorado River in Laughlin, will stay closed for the foreseeable future and lay off its 400 workers.
MSG Sphere construction site remains dormant - Video
The MSG Sphere at The Venetian construction site remains sidelined and representatives of MSG Entertainment offered no updates on when workers might return. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Gaming Control Board keeping reopening plans confidential
The state Gaming Control Board requires every licensee, from the megaresorts to the corner gas station convenience store slot machine operators, to submit reopening plans, but they intend to keep them confidential.
Natural turf added to Allegiant Stadium field tray
The massive field tray, which will roll in and out of the stadium, has a fresh layer of natural grass turf for Raiders home games.
Players show up at Gila River Casino in Arizona - Video
Gila River Casino at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona, is packed with players on the casino’s reopening day, Friday, May 15, 2020. (Elizabeth BrumleyLas Vegas Review-Journal)
Casinos reopening in Phoenix area - Video
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino reopened in Maricopa, Arizona, on Friday, May 15, 2020. It was closed during the government shutdown for coronavirus. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Entertainment to phase In reopenings - Video
Caesars Entertainment, the operator of Caesars Palace and eight other Las Vegas resorts, on Monday announced it would phase in reopenings with a comprehensive safety and health plan with employees wearing masks across its network of properties. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Gaming Commission meeting
Full meeting of the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
Sisolak says businesses will begin reopening under phase 1 - VIDEO
The first phase of reopening Nevada’s businesses will begin Saturday, May 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson winery reacts to Sisolak's economic plan - VIDEO
Governor Sisolak's reopening plan is easier said than done for the only winery in Clark County. Grape Expectations is trying to figure out how to open up shop when they are three businesses in one. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Southwest requiring face coverings
In an effort to increase safety for passengers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, Southwest Airlines is updating protocols that include requiring passengers to wear face coverings beginning May 11.
Locals rush to reopened tennis courts
Daniel Nunez and Sarah Germain made immediate plans to go to their local tennis court, Darling Tennis Center, when they received an email that the facility would open on May 1.
Businesses in Henderson begin reopening - VIDEO
In downtown Henderson and at The District at Green Valley Ranch, small shops are opening their doors for business. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM CEO: Bellagio, New York-New York to reopen first after shutdown - VIDEO
The head of MGM Resorts International isn’t sure when he’ll be able to open properties in Las Vegas, but said Thursday that New York-New York and Bellagio will likely be the first to open their doors. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New visitation report shows plunging numbers for March
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Thursday that convention attendance fell 54.8 percent to 249,800. March normally is one of the city’s strongest months for conventions and trade shows.
US jobless claims climb to 30 million in 6 weeks - VIDEO
The Labor Department released the tally of the most recent jobless claims on Thursday. First-time claims for the week ending on April 25 increased by more than 3.84 million. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Venetian to have EMTs, thermal cameras upon reopening - VIDEO
The hotel-casino operator, Las Vegas Sands Corp., announced updated protocols on April 28 for when its Las Vegas properties reopen, sometime after May 31. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Unions contracts expiring - VIDEO
RJ investigations reporter Arthur Kane and Renee Summerour discuss the uncertainty of union contracts expiring in June, and how the extent of the financial damage from the crisis will make it difficult for unions and governments to negotiate collective bargaining agreements, possibly sending many to arbitration. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Strip hoteliers outline cleaning plans upon reopening - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has yet to confirm when casinos will be able to reopen, but operators are already preparing for the day they’ll have to reassure guests their properties are clean and safe amid the virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Treasure Island plans to reopen May 15 - VIDEO
Treasure Island is planning to open its doors to guests May 15, despite Gov. Steve Sisolak saying Wednesday that gaming shutdowns, currently set to end April 30, will probably be extended an undetermined amount of time. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST