Las Vegas Firm Wins Multimillion-Dollar Tourism Contract Renewal

Posted on: July 8, 2021, 03:14h. 

Last updated on: July 8, 2021, 04:11h.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will retain Las Vegas-based R&R Partners as its primary advertising agency of record, according to a published account. The contract is expected to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Steve Hill, LVCVA CEO
Steve Hill of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority gestures during a public discussion this year in Las Vegas. He is the tourism agency’s president and CEO. (Image: Las Vegas News Bureau)

In addition to R&R’s main role, New York-based Grey Global Advertising will sign on as the LVCVA social brand firm, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

R&R has held the LVCVA advertising and marketing contract for at least four decades, according to KSNV-TV. One of its signature marketing efforts for the Las Vegas tourism agency was the 2003 “What Happens Here, Stays Here” campaign.

The ad agency has offices in eight US cities and in Mexico City, according to its website. R&R is led by CEO Billy Vassiliadis, a longtime Nevada political consultant and advertising executive. Vassiliadis Elementary School in Las Vegas is named for him and his wife, Rosemary, director of aviation for McCarran International Airport. The R&R executive team includes former state legislator Pete Ernaut, who serves as chief government relations officer.

The LVCVA contract is expected to be a five-year arrangement worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the newspaper reported. More details are expected to be released at Tuesday’s board of directors meeting.

In May, LVCVA executives and the agency’s marketing committee heard proposals from R&R and three other firms vying for the contract. R&R was the only Las Vegas-based agency among the finalists.

LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill said this week that Las Vegas is “complex and multifaceted, with both business and leisure travelers playing critical roles in filling rooms and venues.” He said R&R continues to demonstrate its “unparalleled” ability to market the area globally.

Pandemic Woes

The LVCVA works to attract convention-goers and other visitors to the Las Vegas Valley. During the coronavirus pandemic, the area experienced a sharp decline in tourism. McCarran International Airport saw its passenger totals decline by the millions. Some major resorts on the Strip closed their hotel towers during the slow midweek days because of low consumer demand.

Conventioneers and international travelers were nonexistent during the pandemic. Visitors in these categories are seen as important in filling up the Strip’s megaresorts, especially during the middle of the week.

These factors contributed to a Las Vegas jobless rate of 34.2 percent, the highest in the nation at one point during the pandemic, according to the Wall Street Journal. As recently as May, Las Vegas had an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent, the second-highest among US metropolitan areas with a population of 1 million or more. Only Los Angeles had a higher jobless rate in May, at 9.1 percent. 

Tourism Turnaround

Since 1999, conventions and hotel amenities, such as entertainment and food, have made more money for Strip casinos than gaming, according to the Wall Street Journal. A recent LVCVA television ad touting Las Vegas reflected this economic shift. The ad did not mention casinos or show any gaming tables or machines.

In recent months, with the national rollout of vaccines and stimulus checks, tourism has increased in the Las Vegas Valley. 

From March through May, more than 2 million visitors made their way to Las Vegas each month. Also in May, the number of airport passengers topped 3 million for the first time this year.