Las Vegas made the top of yet another list — but this time it’s good.
Las Vegas was ranked the No. 1 travel destination on Travel Leaders’ list of the top domestic destinations already being booked for 2012. The list of 2012 Travel Trends is based on a survey of 640 travel leaders throughout the United States. Conducted Nov. 21 to Dec. 16, the survey is based on actual booking data.
Orlando, Fla., ranked second and Maui, Hawaii, came in third. For 2011 bookings, Las Vegas was first and in 2010 ranked second behind Orlando.
At Sandy Anderson’s Travel Leaders agency location in Coon Rapids, Minn., Las Vegas bookings have seen an uptick.
“They’ve increased this year over last year, absolutely. Probably between 20 percent and 30 percent,” Anderson said.
Her agency has booked tourists primarily looking to experience entertainment that hotels have to offer, such as Cirque du Soleil shows and nightclub special events.
“It’s not necessarily to go gambling,” Anderson said.
She said “O” at Bellagio remains the No. 1 show she books and that requests to get into nightclubs have increased greatly. “They want to get VIP to certain nightclubs. That’s new. Eight years ago we would go, ‘Huh?’ ”
Anderson thinks Las Vegas remains popular because it’s a three-hour plane ride from Minnesota, which makes it viable for a quick getaway. Also, newer hotels including Aria and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas are draws for people who hear buzz about them all the way back in Minnesota.
“Minnesotans absolutely love going to Las Vegas,” she said.
And people traveling to Sin City are willing to spend money, according to the survey.
Based on bookings so far for 2012 and conversations with clients, more than 91 percent of travel agents surveyed say clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2012.
The survey also found that a majority of those Travel Leaders travel agents who primarily book leisure travel indicate they are seeing an increase in interest and bookings for small-ship cruising, off-the-beaten path travel, and international family travel.
All of those are positive indicators for the growing luxury travel segment, in which Las Vegas has a stake.
When asked to identify the top hotel resorts or properties they book for clients, the travel agents polled were allowed to choose up to three options. The most chosen Las Vegas hotels were MGM Grand, Bellagio and The Mirage. The most-recommended Las Vegas shows are “O,” Céline Dion and Blue Man Group.
Due partly to a reduction in airline capacity and a desire to lock in optimum pricing, leisure travelers continue to plan and book their travel further out from their actual travel date.
Survey data on both the domestic and international leisure booking windows show: 21.2 percent of domestic travelers book within four weeks or less of their travel date, 15.1 percent book from five to seven weeks ahead and 63.7 percent book eight weeks or more ahead of their departure.
In 2011, 23.3 percent booked within four weeks or less and 29.8 percent booked in that time frame in 2010.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at