It’s become a running joke all across the country as people in quarantine fantasize about a time when life will look close to “normal” once again:
“When this is over, I’m going to Vegas!”
And while that may be a bit of quarantine gallows humor, the thing is, many people do mean it.
As a destination, Las Vegas is synonymous with unencumbered escapism. People come here to get away from reality, enjoy all the things to do, let their hair down, and let loose—something most people who have been locked inside their homes for the last two months are desperate to do.
And while it is true that, at least initially, Vegas is going to look and feel quite a bit different, it is still Vegas, after all.
At Vegas Unzipped, we were curious to know how many people are eager to get back to Las Vegas, what their timeframe for travel might look like, what would need to happen so that they feel safe to return, and what incentives will help draw them back.
We created a five-question survey that we sent out to our email subscribers. Based on the 915 responses we’ve received, this is what people had to say.
Why People Love Vegas
People love Las Vegas for myriad reasons.
According to the responses, gambling is still first and foremost at 31%, but shows and entertainment are a close second at 29%.
“We just love the lights, excitement, and beauty of Las Vegas. And gambling,” said one respondent.
“Some gambling, good food, and the overall excitement of being there,” said another.
Dining (10%), nightlife (8%), pools, shopping and other reasons (10%) are all drivers as well, with respondents saying things like:
“The mixture of nightlife and shows,” and “a combination of pools, dining, shows, meeting people, and the overall atmosphere.”
For some people (12%), it’s really a combination of everything that Vegas has to offer.
“The entire Vegas culture; it’s unique and one-of-a-kind,” one respondent commented. Another exclaimed, “I love everything about it! All the sounds and lights.
The sensory overload.” Yet another said, “It has everything you could want to do and more, with brilliant weather. What more could you ask for?”
How soon will people come to Vegas when it opens back up?
The most important takeaway from our survey is that people absolutely want to come back.
About 50% said they either would come asap or within a few months and 24% said they are ready to come back right now, even with initial restrictions (such as limited capacity on casino floors and in restaurants).
Some of the responses we received were simply exclamations: “June!” and “That weekend!” (meaning the weekend the casinos reopen).
Wait and See?
Others said they would wait a few months (26%), while others said they would be back once Vegas is fully reopen or basically “back to normal” (37%).
One respondent said they would be back once the casinos are open and they can use the pool and enjoy sit-down dining, “otherwise it’s really not worth it.” More cautious responses included:
“Only when it’s considered safe and the COVID-19 risk is very low,”
and, “We’ll see what happens first.”
Only when we have a Vaccine?
Another respondent was very specific as to the conditions under which they would visit again:
“Only when it’s all open without having to wear a mask.”
A small percentage said they would not come back until there is a vaccine for COVID-19 (12%):
“No way. At least six months after the last reported case in the U.S.”
This may be unrealistic, as the World Health Organization expects that this novel coronavirus is here to stay. A widely distributed vaccine and more effective treatments will take the threat of this particular virus down to a manageable level—again, much like the flu and other seasonal colds.
Will you visit vegas if you have to wear a mask?
A sticking point in the survey is definitely wearing masks.
Even with a fully-reopen Las Vegas, just under half of the respondents say that they will not visit if they are required to wear a mask in public (43%). More than half said they will still visit, even if masks are required (57%).
Note: To be clear, we did not clarify if you had to wear a mask everywhere or just in certain venues.;
This will be a sticking point throughout the country as people return to public spaces.
In some situations, like inside grocery stores and other retailers, it is not unreasonable to require masks to be worn and remain securely on people’s faces while they are inside the store.
However, at places like restaurants, bars, casinos, concerts, and sporting events, where an integral part of the experience typically involves a lot of eating and/or drinking, requiring masks to be worn only to have them repeatedly removed so people can eat and drink seems impractical.
The political and public safety optics of this will likely prove challenging for businesses and authorities to navigate, and not just in Las Vegas.
What incentive will motivate you to come back to Vegas?
While health and safety concerns are likely going to be insurmountable for the time being for a small segment of the population, others may be attracted by different incentives, especially given that casinos and other businesses (including airlines) are implementing strict cleaning and screening procedures to ensure the highest level of safety possible for guests.
Hands-down the biggest incentive of all as reported by our respondents would be the total abolishment of resort fees, 45% cited this would be their top incentive.
Resort fees are a serious pain point and source of perennial frustration with travelers, enough so that even federal lawmakers have considered stepping in, and Las Vegas as a destination is the world’s worst offender.
“No resort or parking fees and a big reduction in hotel prices,” one respondent said.
“Reduced prices, no resort fees, and incentives,” said another.
A big reduction in hotel prices would also sweeten the pot for people to visit, with 34% naming this as their number-one motivator. But, as one respondent warned, it has to be concurrent with the elimination of resort fees.
“A combo of eliminated resort fees and reduced hotel fees, because if you reduce one but increase the other it amounts to the same thing.”
Resort credits and free play (11%) and eliminated parking fees (2%) were much lower in the ranking of what would motivate people to return, and some folks would be enticed back by a combination of these incentives.
“All of the above, especially resort fees—hate them, would rather pay per use,” one respondent wrote, really speaking for the overwhelming majority of travelers.
Respondents offered a few more ideas for incentives that would draw them back, including cheap airline tickets and extra hotel perks like free room upgrades and credits for casinos, spas, and restaurants.
Several noted that adequate safety measures would also be top of mind:
“Sanitizing everywhere like crazy, masks, low infection rates,” one noted,
Cancelation of Las Vegas trips due to the Pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic really hit home in the United States, it profoundly disrupted every aspect of our way of life, travel included. Nearly half (49%) of our respondents had to cancel a trip to Las Vegas in 2020 because of the pandemic.
While it may take a couple of months for people to start feeling comfortable being out in public and traveling again, there are several things Las Vegas resorts can do to get people back, like eliminating the universally abhorred resort fee, is an excellent place to start.
See You Back in Vegas
People love Las Vegas for all of the things that make it “Only Vegas.”
With the right combination of financial incentives and safety procedures, Vegas can get back to doing what it does best providing a fun place for people to escape.
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