Thursday, June 23, 2011

Proof The Strip Is Freaked About Electric Daisy

I just filed a piece for a national publication about the Electric Daisy drama, but there are some things that are just difficult to explain in a traditional piece. You know how I love me some screen shots.

In case you're unaware, Electric Daisy Carnival is a rave that will take over the Las Vegas Motor Speedway from Friday to Sunday with six stages and an expected 85,000-ish attendees daily. It's controversial because two attendees died after the one last weekend in Dallas and a 15-year-old died at one in L.A. last year. In fact, the L.A. Coliseum declined $300,000 to host the thing again this year, which is how it ended up in Vegas.

So here's the YouTube promo, which gives you an idea what this is:

Anyhow, the Strip is being very weird about all this. Them's some huge crowds coming, and it's not like drugs and alcohol overdoses, among other vices, aren't de rigeur on the Strip on any given weekend. And yet the resorts don't seem to be too excited about this bunch, and my favorite Wall Street analyst, Robert LaFleur, suggested in an email this week that they're setting room rates extra high as "defensive moves by the hotels to discourage patronage by these attendees." When the Flamingo sets its room rates at $775 a night, two-night-minimum, you know something gone terribly awry. (See the chart at bottom of this R-J piece for more wacky prices.)

There are various theories why, and John L. Smith of the R-J was especially clever in yesterday's column in which he wrote:

I suspect what makes some officials most upset isn't the drug use or the loud music, but the fact the Electric Daisy devotees don't gamble like fiends and hang out in nightclubs where a bottle of vodka costs more than a car payment.

So what do you call a drug-hazed person who comes to Las Vegas and doesn't gamble? Possible trouble. What do you call the same person who comes to Las Vegas and hits the green-felt tables? A good customer.

Meanwhile, the folks from Insomniac, which produces these events, refuse to acknowledge that they've got the Strip freaked out. Erika L. Raney, the spokeswoman, responded via email to my questions about the skittishness with this:

I have not heard of this issue. All hotel partners that Insomnaic works with have been extremely welcoming and accommodating. We believe hotels in Las Vegas are thrilled to have the business, as some reports suggest the Strip is at nearly a sell-out.

Now, in order for Ms. Raney to not have heard of these issues, she would have had to simply not read any of the copious gobs of media coverage leading up to this weekend. That would strike me as shockingly derelict of any publicist, right?

But hey, let's take a look. And here's what we find on the EDC-Vegas site under "hotels":

That's quite the select bunch, right? Circus Circus, Excalibur, Stratosphere, Luxor and O.J. Simpson's favorite, Palace Station. But here's the best part. Click on any of those except for The Palace, and this is what you get:

Sorry! No rooms at the inns!

But then go to each of those resorts' sites and...there ARE rooms! Look!

Now, granted, Saturday night is still sold out at Circus Circus and Excalibur, but what about the other nights and the other two fine establishments of lodging? And, also, EDC and others are saying the room rates are so frigging high because of overall demand across the city, but then how IS it that the Palace Station is offering rooms for...

just $73? That screenshot also proves, by the by, that the default for the EDC site's hotel links is to search for a one-night stay starting today. And all of these resorts have availability for that. So hmmph.

Look, regardless of what Raney says, this is NOT the behavior or posture of a resort community that is eager to host these people. When I asked earlier today whether there was an official hotel, I was told it is the Cosmopolitan. I called the Cosmo to ask them why they were being so embracing of that which competitors seem to be shirking from, only to get a denial that the Cosmo is actually the official hotel. Welcome, everyone!

Here's hoping the ravers all come and enjoy themselves and go home in one piece. But please don't insult our intelligence by suggesting that this is a normal event and everything is hunky dory. Besides, the media is largely on your side on this; it's great fun to point out when the Vegas resorts are being ridiculous.


Jeff Simpson said...

I think the resorts want to benefit from more business demand while they shy away from embracing EDC in case there are serious problems.
Same for the LVCVA.
I like Oscar's stance. Welcome the young adults and try to make the event as safe as possible.
It will be hard to avoid deaths or serious injuries given the size of the crowds, the heat and the habits of young folks, but if there were a three-day NASCAR event this weekend at the LVMS I bet there would be some deaths or injuries among the hard-drinking racing fans.

Anonymous said...

These festivals are not new, Miami hosts the Winter Music Conf. as well as tons in Europe and South America. It's always sad when a few people get scared of an event due to "what could happen"