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Las Vegas Tourism Agency Grants $500M Ad Contract to Local Firm

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors on Tuesday awarded R&R Partners a $500 million advertising and marketing contract to promote the city and its casinos across the globe.

Visitors pose for a picture at the iconic Las Vegas sign on the southern end of the Strip. The sign has welcomed tourists to Las Vegas for more than 60 years. (Image: Salt Water Vibes)

The six-year advertising arrangement with Las Vegas-based R&R is the largest contract the LVCVA has generated, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The LVCVA board also voted to grant a $160 million contract to New York-based Grey Global Advertising. The two-year contract, with two two-year options, is for social media branding.

R&R has had the LVCVA contract for at least 40 years, according to KSNV-TV. In 2003, the agency created the now well-known “What Happens Here, Stays Here” campaign for the LVCVA.

With offices in eight US cities and in Mexico City, R&R is led by CEO Billy Vassiliadis, a veteran Nevada political consultant and advertising executive. An elementary school west of downtown Las Vegas is named for him and his wife, Rosemary. She is the director of aviation for McCarran International Airport.

LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill recently said R&R continues to demonstrate its “unparalleled” ability to market the “complex and multifaceted” Las Vegas area.

Criticisms Roll in

 The LVCVA’s efforts are not without critics.

Ted Newkirk, the founder of Access Vegas, recently said on Twitter he appreciates the LVCVA’s role. However, they added that the agency is quick to shift blame when things aren’t going well locally.

“It seems like in bad times, they shrug their shoulders and blame the economy,” he tweeted. “In good times, they take all the credit.”

Tourism Doldrums

After a tourism slump during the coronavirus pandemic, the Las Vegas area has begun to see an increase in the number of visitors. From March through May, more than two million visitors made their way to Las Vegas each month. Also in May, the number of arriving and departing passengers at McCarran Airport topped three million for the first time this year.

However, without conventioneers and international travelers, the Las Vegas visitor volume is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels soon. These two segments are seen as vital in filling up Las Vegas’ thousands of hotel rooms during the slower midweek days. Last year, some resorts on the Strip closed their hotel towers because of low consumer demand.

Conventions Crucial

Since 1999, casinos on the Las Vegas Strip have generated more revenue from conventions and from hotel amenities such as entertainment and food than from gambling, the Wall Street Journal reported. This makes “the destination all the more dependent on crowds to fill those venues,” the newspaper reported.

Conventions were nonexistent last year during the coronavirus pandemic. The LVCVA is hoping to turn that around. 

In June, the first US convention since the March 2020 onset of the pandemic took place in Las Vegas. The World of Concrete trade group held its show at the Convention Center, east of the Strip. This show was the first major event held in the $1 billion West Hall at the Convention Center.

Larry Henry

Gaming Regulation, Crime, Politics — Larry Henry is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who spent more than 16 years in Nevada, including serving as legislative reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal and as political editor at the Las Vegas Sun. He's also written about popular culture for the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. As a broadcast journalist, he worked as managing editor at KFSM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Arkansas, where he now lives and where casino growth is a hot topic. A Marine Corps veteran and LSU graduate, he is also an avid movie fan, especially of classic film noir from the 1940s and ’50s.

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  • I do not get it, the CEO makes more than the president of the US?? Who has more power???

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Larry Henry