Friday, October 10, 2008

Trying REALLY HARD To Look On The Bright Side

Economic news is so frigging depressing these days. People ask Miles and me what happened to our plans to adopt a child and all we can say is that adoption is expensive and we used to have a whole bunch of equity in our house that's now gone. Poof! Disappeared! So we'll wait. Every day the newspapers overflow with unhappy statistics, job losses and stock collapses. It's gotten so bad that newly minted pauper Sheldon Adelson is offering $119-a-night rooms.

So this morning, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority emailed out its monthly summary for Clark County of hotel occupancy, convention attendance, visitor volume, the works. And, true to form, it should have come with a loaded pistol for any gaming stockholder wanting to blow their brains out. It's just a bloodbath of negative percentages versus August 2007, with the most stunning drop to me being that the economic impact of conventions fell from $1 billion to $777 million, a 23.6 percent decline. Sad times and, if you want a reason to weep, you can look at all the figures here.

But I'm an optimist! I scoured the information for something -- anything! -- that was going well to cheer y'all up! And lo and behold, there was one itty-bitty happy note in... Laughlin!

Yep, Laughlin. Hotel occupancy was up 2.8 percent in August! What's more, they're getting 14.9 percent more per room -- the average room there is now $47.21 versus $41.10 in August 2007. And 19.6 percent more people were flying into the Laughlin-Bullhead "International" Airport, too. Why Laughlin? Beats the hell outta me. But there you have it.

Oh! There is one other upside, at least for consumers. Room rates in Mesquite plummetted 41.2 percent from an average of $78.42 in August 2007 to $46.11 for August 2008. Mesquite is a sensational place. If you've never been, it's so pretty up there with the mountains and the river.

And that, folks, is it. Almost every other indicator was negative except one that I don't think is actually a good thing -- there are now 3.3 percent more rooms in the Las Vegas area. We're now at 137,690, up from 133,328 last year at this time. Most of that is the Palazzo, but about 300 come from the Eastside Cannery. That's sad because the part of Vegas that took the biggest gaming-revenue drop? That would be the Boulder Strip, off 22.4 percent in August year-over-year. And just think, this time next year we'll have Encore (+2,000 rooms), Aliante Station (+200 rooms), M Resort (+390 rooms) and Caesars' Octavius Tower (+650 rooms). And that's before Aria (+4,000 rooms) and the rest of the CityCenter crowd opens.

But, you know, anyone who suggests Vegas is even temporarily overbuilt is a pooh-poohing naysayer who doesn't know his history and hasn't seen a 1955 cover of Life Magazine. Or something like that.


GregoryZephyr said...

I've seen an ad a couple times now here in the San Francisco area for Laughlin. It's the first time I've seen them advertise here in 8 years. "It's like you own the place." (or something like that) is their theme. Must be trying to get people to think of it like an olden days version of Vegas. (Perhaps the next wave of ads will say, "The Mob still runs the joint.")

ChrisR said...

Vegas has been pricing itself out of it's own market for the last few years, and if the economy bites back, those willing to pay extra for extras will dry up quickly.

Vegas needed a price correction... with the number of rooms in the city, it's been crazy that prices have gone -up- dramatically in the 5 years I've been visiting.

I have no doubt Vegas will survive and be back in business soon. But if a few overpriced hotel/casinos drop prices and have a few problems, I'm not going to shed a tear.

Anonymous said...

$119/per night.....and $50.00 PER DAY gaming credit !

Go Venetian !!!!!

$119/per night at Palazzo, too !!!

Judy and Dagmar Jenner said...

There we have it, further confirmation that our city is not recession proof. Good to hear (I suppose) that Laughlin does appear to be recession proof. What lessons can we learn from Laughlin? Honestly, I have no idea, but they are doing something right. It's probably just the lower price point, which makes it affordable even in tough economic times.