Survey Says Americans Miss Conventions, Spark of Good News for Las Vegas

Posted on: January 25, 2021, 09:32h. 

Last updated on: January 25, 2021, 11:20h.

Conventions remain on hold in the US because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But a recent survey finds many Americans miss in-person business events. That’s good news for Las Vegas.

Las Vegas convention casino hotel
Las Vegas convention officials are optimistic that large gatherings will resume this year. One notable event in 2021, CES, seen here in 2018, has already been canceled. (Image: Adweek)

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) hired Heart+Mind Strategies to conduct a review on the coronavirus’s impact on attitudes towards large exhibitions. The Virginia-based research firm found that 91 percent of respondents said they yearn for face-to-face conventions.

The health situation, as we get six weeks or so from now, is going to be on a positive trajectory,” declared LVCVA Chair Steve Hill. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand.”

Along with more than 90 percent of respondents saying they miss in-person business events, nearly 60 percent said they’re tired of virtual meetings and conferences.

Las Vegas Relies on Conventions

During a non-pandemic year, the majority of Las Vegas casino hotel rooms are occupied on the weekends with leisure travelers. But through the week, it’s business visitors who keep Las Vegas’ more than 150,000 hotel rooms occupied.

Approximately 6.6 million people arrived in Southern Nevada in 2019 for the primary purpose of attending a convention. That’s 15.5 percent of the 42.5 million people the LVCVA said arrived in town that year.

Last year, of course, was a different story. Since mid-March, COVID-19 canceled all large indoor gatherings in Nevada. The LVCVA hasn’t yet revealed tourism statistics for December. But through 11 months of 2020, total visitor volume was down 54.5 percent. Convention attendance was down 73 percent.

Las Vegas casinos need conventions to return quickly. And once deemed safe, 74 percent of conventioneers who answered the Heart+Mind survey said Las Vegas is their preferred location.

“If we can get the vaccine done in the next three or four months and we have some herd immunity built-up, I think people will feel pretty comfortable,” Hill explained. “The restrictions, which are derived from declarations of emergency from governors across the country, those, I think, will go away. I don’t think governors want to be in that position.”

Conventions in 2021

Hill is optimistic that the herd immunity he’s talking about will result in the return of conventions this year.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) order banning large groups congregating indoors runs through at least February 14. The directive limits indoor gatherings to 50 or fewer people, or 25 percent of a building’s fire code capacity, whichever is smaller.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the annual gathering in Las Vegas typically held this month, is off. That’s already 170,000 fewer people visiting Las Vegas in 2021. CES is one of the numerous conventions that opted to hold its event remotely online.

Downtown Las Vegas casino owner Derek Stevens is confident the city will return to its energetic ways.

“We’re going to be vibrant because we’re an event-based community,” Stevens told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “This is just a different kind of city. And it’s just great. We’ll get over this, move forward, and take it to the next level.”