Major conventions sign lease extensions with LVCVA

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has a good reason to celebrate.

Both the MAGIC and SEMA conventions signed lease extensions with the Las Vegas Convention Center that are expected to bring a combined nongaming economic impact of $1.4 billion to Las Vegas the next few years. As two of the largest conventions that come to Las Vegas each year, both shows are considered anchor tenants at the convention center.

MAGIC, the Men’s Apparel Guild in California, attracts about 80,000 attendees twice yearly, while SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, draws about 130,000 people to its annual show. The estimated nongaming economic impact from MAGIC’s lease extension, which runs through 2015, is $611 million, according to the convention authority. SEMA’s extension, which runs through 2017, is expected to have an $827 million nongaming economic impact on the Las Vegas community, the authority said. The shows support about 2,000 jobs in Las Vegas.

"Those are large infusions of dollars into Las Vegas that supports jobs," Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter said. "That’s very important as we look to add more jobs in the future."

The two shows couldn’t seem to say enough about working with the authority. MAGIC has been coming to Las Vegas since 1989 and SEMA since 1977.

"The LVCVA is really an incredible partner," said Tony Calanca, executive vice president of exhibitions for Advanstar, which produces MAGIC. "They are hungry for the business despite having the biggest chunk of market share."

Las Vegas’ market share of the nationwide convention and meetings industry is 12.5 percent.

In 2011, Las Vegas hosted 19,029 meetings and conventions with an attendance of 4.87 million people and an economic impact of about $6 billion. Those conventions support 58,000 jobs in the city throughout the year.

"Las Vegas is a world-class venue," Calanca said. "They are built to deal with visitors, which is a fabulous thing. If the facilities aren’t big enough, it doesn’t matter what else the city has."

Las Vegas offers 10 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space. Add to that the city’s 150,000 hotel rooms, entertainment offerings and the close proximity of McCarran International Airport to the convention areas, and, Ralenkotter said, you have the primary reasons Vegas is so attractive to planners.

"All of that has allowed us to provide all the types of services and activities that convention groups look at when booking conventions," Ralenkotter added.

SEMA President Chris Kersting said it’s the little things that count when working with the city.

"We’ve appreciated a very productive and collaborative relationship with the LVCVA over the years," Kersting said. "They’ve been directly helpful to us in our outreach to attract more attendees and particularly to assist in attracting overseas visitors to the SEMA show."

Overseas customers represent new market growth for the show.

"Las Vegas is a very attractive destination from an international visitor standpoint," Kersting said.

Calanca, too, said the authority’s international programs make a difference, and he particularly has been impressed with its foreign trade missions.

"It’s an awesome program," Calanca said. "International development is a huge (focus) for us."

To help attract a strong contingent of international convention attendees, the travel authority hosts trade missions to international destinations during which the authority and six to 12 convention partners work to attract exhibitors and buyers to the Vegas shows. They also connect with the local trade and consumer media in those locales.

In June, for instance, the authority traveled to Panama and Bogotá, Colombia, aiming to capitalize on the addition of Copa Airlines to McCarran, which services 34 major cities in Central and South America.

"We’re really the only destination that does this type of marketing campaign with our trade show groups," Ralenkotter said.

The lease extensions come just before SEMA’s 2012 show, which will be in town Oct. 30-Nov. 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Kersting said move-in begins in earnest on Oct. 25 and 26, but some aspects get going even earlier. Breakdown of the show lasts throughout the following weekend, Nov. 3 and 4.

An expected 2,000 manufacturers are exhibiting, and the convention authority is expecting 130,000 to attend, hailing from more than 100 countries.

"Those are record numbers in the face of a rather sluggish economy," Kersting said.

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