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Show pass could change game

How many shows can you see in 48 hours?

How much more would you pay to go backstage at Cirque du Soleil?

Two new and smart ideas promise to be fun developments for consumers, while letting producers strike back against middle-man discount ticket outlets that have steamrolled the Strip.

Since 2002, discount outlets have proliferated. The 10 locations of Tix4Tonight offer mixed blessings for consumers who have seen face values gradually increase (producers charge $80 so they can get $40).

Disgruntled producers, tired of seeing so many commissions go to the middle man, have talked about forming some form of alliance.

Now Harrah’s Entertainment has done that for them.

Inspired by its “Buffet of Buffets” promotion, Harrah’s is offering the All Stage Pass, in which $99 (or $119 without a player’s card) buys you as many of 17 shows as you can jam into 48 hours.

This is a potential game-changer on several fronts. Though Harrah’s oversees eight properties, entertainment has been decentralized to the point of comedians butting heads at adjacent properties.

“The thing that has been unique about it, especially for Las Vegas, is that we have had 17 separate show producers all agree to participate,” says Michael Weaver, the company’s vice president of marketing. “They all saw the value in it. … If we can do this, I’m convinced world peace is at hand.”

Early buyers have managed to squeeze in three shows. Consumers pay the same service charge as they would on a single ticket. In the big picture, Weaver sees it helping Las Vegas “compete with things like cruise ships and inclusive vacation destinations.”

Meanwhile, full-priced ticket vender Entertainment Benefits Group has teamed with Cirque du Soleil to offer a $260 upsell ticket that includes backstage tours at “O” or “Love.” “We’re trying to do more to create more value, more unique experiences,” company head Brett Reizen says of the tours EBG operates. You can buy the package at the company’s 40 outlets, but not at the shows’ own box offices.

Both ideas share the possibility of restoring prominence to Strip entertainment. Seeing three shows instead of one “gives people more social currency on their vacation experience,” Weaver says, “which is a little bit of what going to Las Vegas is about.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

 

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