Even in recession, ‘flightseeing’ companies find ways to soar

Although Wednesday’s stormy weather caused numerous flight delays, Vision Holidays President Larry Siggelkow found himself blindsided by customer complaints from a different source.

Arizona transportation officials had opened the O’Callaghan-Tillman Bridge during the night without any notice, preventing passengers on the company’s bus tours from going over the Hoover Dam and taking pictures, as promised in the brochure.

"It’s little things like that … ," said Siggelkow, neglecting to complete his sentence. "Welcome to our world of surprises in the tour industry."

But perhaps the biggest source of amazement this year has been the sharp rebound in passenger traffic for Vision Airlines’ fixed-wing tour flights to and from the Grand Canyon. After passenger counts at the North Las Vegas Airport terminal had fallen by just more than half in two years through 2009, they have shot up 36 percent during the first eight months of this year, Clark County Department of Aviation statistics show.

Meanwhile, Scenic Airlines’ flights from the Boulder City Airport rebounded sharply in 2009 and stayed at that level this year after a steep decline two years ago.

As a result, the two rivals in a specialty niche of the tourist industry have pulled off what many other businesses now consider a lost cause: a robust recovery to the brutal recession.

The rivals used different approaches to rebuild their sales, but share a heavy reliance foreign visitors. Siggelkow estimated that about 80 percent of his passengers come from outside the country, particularly Japanese tour groups, while Marketing Vice President Robert Graff put Scenic’s count at 70 percent. Many Asian economies are recovering at a faster clip than the U.S. economy, the companies agree, and the declining value of the dollar against many world currencies has boosted the appeal of "flightseeing."

Also, the flow of international visitors has suffered few disruptions except for the eruption of the Icelandic volcano. Early last year, by contrast, a Japanese government warning against travel to the United States due to swine flu caused a wave of cancellations, Siggelkow said.

Vision has held its prices steady for the past two years and eschewed fuel surcharges even when oil prices rose past the company’s threshold of $75 a barrel. Siggelkow said he has stayed away from offering discounts on his website to avoid undercutting the travel agents that sell most of his company’s tickets.

"We have to maintain a very delicate balance in the pricing structure to be good for customers and maintain the loyalty of the travel agents," he said.

However, he said, that Vision has not boosted commissions.

"Maintaining the wholesale prices is all the incentive we needed," he said.

Prices start at $259 for West Rim flights that include tours, but can rise by a few hundred dollars with certain options.

Scenic, a part of Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, overhauled its price structure early last year. It tossed out dozens of packages and took a cue from the airlines by unbundling trips, starting customers with a base price and then putting up a menu of options at extra charge.

Scenic’s basic flights start at $115 to the West Rim. But the a la carte pricing has prompted passengers to spend more than in the past, Graff said.

Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at toreiley@lvbusinesspress.com or 702-387-5290.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Project billed as one of the world's largest marijuana dispensaries plans to open Nov. 1
Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler talks about what to expect from the new marijuana dispensary, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Oasis Biotech opens in Las Vegas
Brock Leach, chief operating officer of Oasis Biotech, discusses the new plant factory at its grand opening on July 18. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like