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Las Vegas shifting its tune to attract millennials

Las Vegas needs to start preparing for the next generation of visitors, according to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President Steve Hill.

Speaking recently at the Urban Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 State of the Chamber address, Hill said millennial visitors — those born between 1981 and 1996, according to Pew Research — have a whole new set of interests. And Las Vegas has to be ready to offer new products and attractions, he said.

Officials are speaking “to groups of people that may not have been all that interested in coming to Las Vegas,” he said Friday. “We can offer new and really unique experiences to our customers.”

Shifting demographics

According to 2018 data from the LVCVA, the two largest age demographics for Las Vegas tourists are between 21 and 29 and between 30 and 39; these groups make up 45 percent of all visitors.

Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst for Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis, said millennials’ share of tourism rates is continuing to grow.

“It’s just a simple reality of the aging of the (demographic),” Aguero said. “Many baby boomers are beginning to age out of traveling sectors.”

Hill said millennials view destinations “completely different” from previous generations.

“What millennials look for (is) authenticity in an experience. Something that is personalized, the ability to share that experience,” he said. “They want something that is unique.”

The LVCVA tried to get this message across in its 2018 advertising campaign, “Only Vegas Moments.” The series of four commercials highlighted Las Vegas as a judgment-free zone and targeted people who want to escape or experience “adult freedom,” said Billy Vassiliadis, CEO of R&R Partners, the Las Vegas-based advertising company that produced the campaign.

The advertisements were released in May, during the height of the #MeToo movement. One of the commercials featured a working mom. Another featured a young LGBTQ couple.

“It’s a value-driven generation,” Vassiliadis said. “Younger consumers are interested in supporting a product that has something that is more relevant societally, that has a core value system. We thought it was important for Vegas to be presented that way.”

Vegas’ approach

Hill said Las Vegas needs to shift more than just its marketing.

“It has to be a shift in who we are, products we offer, what is appealing to the next generation of customers,” he said.

Las Vegas’ products need to become more personalized, Hill said, with more individualized, unique experiences. He said these unique experiences — like a cooking class with a local chef — open up a wide variety of opportunities for small businesses.

Aguero said all sorts of local businesses, from Jeep tour and helicopter ride operators to nightclubs, are leveraging opportunities from Las Vegas’ tourism industry.

“It’s an opportunity for small and large business owners,” he said. “The advent of nightclubs with Calvin Harris … (concerts with rapper) Travis Scott … those are clearly artists that are targeting a different market.”

Vassiliadis said there are already signs of the city transforming to meet this generation’s interests, such as the HyperX Esports Arena inside Luxor.

“The actual Vegas product is beginning to subtly redevelop,” he said. “We’ll be seeing more of that. The adopting of technology, making the experience more convenient, the use of apps … (it’s) going to continue to expand.”

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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