A few letters after a newspaper column is gratifying. Fifty would be exciting. 100 would signify people are enthusiastic. What would 200 letters responding to one column indicate? The emails just keep coming in from my piece about casinos charging parking fees.
This is what you call a bull’s-eye. This is an issue the people of Las Vegas care about. People are engaged.
Billion-dollar companies always say each letter from a consumer represents thousands of customers. What would 200 letters (and counting) signify? Perhaps these 200 letters represent what 2 million local Las Vegans are thinking and feeling.
I’ve read in detail each and every one of your letters. All 200 letters have some things in common. They all love Las Vegas. They all moved here to enjoy our wonderful hotels and casinos. They all love going out to the Strip. They are all happy to spend money on the Strip. They all want to eat, drink, shop and gamble. They are all willing to drop a load of money while doing it. They just want to feel valued. Free valet parking made locals feel valued. They felt like millionaires. It put them in the mood to spend.
It made them love your casino!
Here is a true story that I believe sums up the situation. In 1989 The Washington Post told the story of an elderly man named John Barrier who asked his bank in Spokane, Wash., to validate his 60-cent parking fee. The bank refused. The man withdrew his $1 million from Old National Bank and deposited all of it with a competitor.
So 60 cents cost that business a million-dollar customer. Big mistake.
The argument from the casino executives is that hotels in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago charge for parking. But they are missing the big picture. First, this isn’t New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Chicago. Virtually our entire population ran away from those places. They moved to Vegas specifically for the less expensive quality of life. That quality of life revolves around enjoying the Strip.
Secondly, in those other cities, no one but tourists and business travelers ever frequents hotels. I lived in New York for more than 20 years. I never went out to a hotel. I lived in Los Angeles for 13 years. I never went out to eat at a hotel. Why would I? But in Vegas we all visit casino-hotels regularly as part of our lifestyle.
Most of us visit the Strip every time a family member, friend or business associate visits. In my case that’s often 10 to 20 times per month. When you live in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, different friends and relatives don’t visit 100 times per year. They do in Vegas.
The letters I’ve received have many other issues in common. Seniors are upset. They need valet. They can’t walk long distances from parking garages. Women are upset. They park at valet for safety and security reasons. They don’t want to walk long distances in dark garages. Disabled people are upset. They rely on valet parking. Casino employees are upset. Their income has been cut dramatically.
But the news isn’t all bad.
Some Strip hotels still offer free valet and free garage parking. Let’s celebrate them.
Liberals claim Republicans are “heartless and greedy”? Not our Las Vegas Republicans.
Massive GOP donor Sheldon Adelson offers free parking at Venetian and Palazzo.
Donald Trump’s best buddy Phil Ruffin offers free parking at Treasure Island.
And Donald Trump himself offers free parking at Trump Hotel.
Here are some other hotels that should be congratulated and thanked: SLS Las Vegas, the Palms, the Stratosphere, Golden Nugget, Station Casinos (including Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch), Boyd properties (including the Orleans and Gold Coast), Arizona Charlie’s, the Cannery and even the Rio (Caesars’ only off-Strip hotel).
It’s time to say thank you and reward the hotels that value locals.
Wayne Allyn Root is a best-selling author and host of “WAR Now: The Wayne Allyn Root Show” 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily at 790 Talk Now. His R-J columns run Thursday and Sunday.