Las Vegas is overhauling its travel trade strategy with the goal of creating a more customized experience for agents who sell the destination, while broadening opportunities for less-productive travel sellers to win cash prizes.
The revised strategy of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors’ Authority includes the launch of a new website; expanded opportunities for agents to earn cash booking incentives, and – notably – the phasing out of the Vegas Expert specialist program, which at its peak had 20,000 graduates.
Within the next year, the LVCVA also will begin tailoring its messaging to agents based on their booking history, said Art Jimenez, senior director of leisure sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “We are on a course of identifying and cultivating agents.”
New website & tools
The convention and visitors authority will revamp its website this fall, launching a combined consumer-travel trade site at Visitlasvegas.com. The new site will replace LVCVA.com.
A dedicated section for travel professionals will feature a litany of tools, including: sample itineraries; templates agents can use to create newsletters; access to high-quality photography, and tips on selling Las Vegas.
The LVCVA will continue to communicate with existing Vegas experts, Jimenez said.
Travel Market Report spoke with Jimenez about the changes in Las Vegas’ approach to agents and about enhancements to the destination’s leisure product.
What’s coming up in your travel agency program?
Jimenez: We are on a course of identifying and cultivating agents. A year from now, thanks to new technological tools, we will be able to know exactly what agents are booking and how to communicate with them. If they’re booking five-star hotels, we’ll get them information on that. We will customize our message.
Our intent is also to develop fams based solely on productivity, and this database will allow us to do that. Better information for agents will be good for their clients.
What’s new with your cash incentive program for agents?
Jimenez: We have just changed the Cash In On Vegas promotion, so that it will not be based solely on volume. Anybody who books Las Vegas will have a chance to win a portion of $10,000 in cash prizes.
The current program runs through October for travel through November 15. Of course, the more agents book the better chance they have of winning.
How else do you market to agents?
Jimenez: We have fam trips and our Vegas On The Road sales blitzes with our key wholesale partners. Members of our team are out every week to hit key markets.
We have a monthly e-newsletter called Vegas Insider that provides tips on deals and events in the city. It’s a fast read. There is also a quarterly mailing to agents that deals with how they can book personal travel to Las Vegas using travel professional discounts.
Why are you sunsetting your Vegas Experts program?
Jimenez: There are now so many training programs that we think agents are overloaded. We also think that most agents do know Las Vegas.
How do agents typically do business with you?
Jimenez: A full 85% of our visitors are leisure. We mostly deal with agents through our wholesale partners, which includes all the major players. We are a top destination for every major wholesaler.
In the old days, a Las Vegas package meant a quick, low-end booking, with relatively low commissions. Now with our rates climbing, all the bookable extras, and higher airfares, agents can do very well on packages.
How else can agents earn commissions on Vegas bookings?
Jimenez: We have a ‘commissionable Vegas’ section on our website, which is updated periodically. Agents can see options there that they might not find in a package – like helicopter rides, entertainment, dining and shopping. They can book those and get commissions.