The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority hired the third CEO of its existence Tuesday, naming former state Economic Development Director Steve Hill to replace retiring CEO Rossi Ralenkotter.
Hill, 58, who was recruited to join the LVCVA and became its president and chief operating officer Jan. 22, will take the new title Sept. 1, the day after Ralenkotter’s official retirement.
“I think what was really pointed out is the great team at the LVCVA, the resources that we have throughout the destination on the board, in the properties, with our partners,” Hill said. “Rossi would tell you this too … this is not a one-man show. I think I can do a good job with the organization, but it’s a big group effort to make Las Vegas happen.”
The LVCVA’s 14-member board of directors has yet to set a salary for Hill. The board agreed to address that at its Sept. 11 meeting and make the rate retroactive to the first of the month.
The salary range for the LVCVA’s chief operating officer is between $212,200 and $425,400. Ralenkotter was paid $440,440 last year.
Board members voted 13-1 in favor of the appointment, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee casting the lone dissenting vote. Lee did not elaborate during the meeting about his position but said earlier that he preferred a nationwide search for a candidate to lead the city’s destination marketing organization.
The LVCVA has had nine leaders in its 63-year history, but only three — Manuel Cortez, Ralenkotter and now Hill — have held the CEO title.
Following the meeting, Hill said that he is up to the challenge of attacking some of the Las Vegas tourism industry’s issues and that he’ll lead a team that already has experience as a front-runner.
“I’m excited about what’s happening right now. We’ve got the stadium, we’ve got the LVCVA (convention center) expansion, Resorts World is moving, the Drew is looking like it’s going to start as well, so there’s real momentum and growth, which, frankly, we haven’t had in about a decade,” Hill said.
Stadium Authority leader
The stadium to which Hill was referring is the 65,000-seat, $1.8 billion venue being built by the Oakland Raiders with $750 million from hotel room taxes.
Hill heads the Las Vegas Stadium Authority and said he will continue in that capacity while handling his CEO responsibilities at the LVCVA.
The Stadium Authority chairmanship is by gubernatorial appointment, but Hill’s term extends to 2019.
Hill said his experience in economic development will serve him well in his new role.
“My time at (the Governor’s Office of Economic Development) allowed me to spend a good deal of time with innovative companies across the United States and across the world, and I think I can bring some of that innovation to the LVCVA and to the city,” he said. “We need to continue to focus on access both to the destination and in the destination and make it as easy as we can for our customers to be able to experience everything we have here.”
Another issue on the horizon is attracting new customers to Las Vegas, he said.
“We need, frankly, to look at who our customers are going to be in the future, primarily among millennials, and learn how to be as attractive to them as everybody else who has preceded them,” he said. “Figuring out how to unlock that is going to be important, and we’re going to need to do this to improve.”
Hill’s appointment to president and chief operating officer in January was a key piece of Ralenkotter’s effort to develop a succession plan for when he retired.
Under the “C-suite” plan first envisioned by Ralenkotter 2½ years ago, the positions of president and chief operating officer and chief marketing officer were added to the LVCVA administration, and the top personnel position was reclassified as “chief people officer.” Other top executives include the chief financial officer, the chief communications and public affairs officer and the organization’s legal counsel.
Hill was pegged as Ralenkotter’s eventual successor as early as September, when he announced plans to leave the economic development office.
In addition to chairing the Stadium Authority, Hill and Ralenkotter were appointed to the Southern Nevada Sporting Event Committee, which is expected to deliver a report to the governor and the Legislature by the end of the year on attracting new events to Southern Nevada arenas and venues.