Las Vegas turning to online influencers to entice travellers News Staff

LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has begun sending marketing messages to leisure travellers and conventioneers in a somewhat unconventional way in the rapidly changing travel environment.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the first of nearly two dozen social media influencers spent time in Las Vegas recently, with more planning to visit through the end of April.

That’s when a paid advertising campaign directed at business travellers and tourists will kick off.

“It’s really a layered approach for both business as well as leisure,” said Steve Hill, president and CEO of the LVCVA.

“We’ve gone from basically six weeks ago having very few people (wanting to travel) to six weeks from now we think virtually everybody wanting to get back to travelling again,” Hill said. “Both the leisure and the business plan recognize that quick evolution, so we’re starting with having others tell our story, then getting back to our normal message and then move forward as we get into May and June.”

That’s where the social media influencers come in. They have thousands of followers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and they’ll share their experiences in Las Vegas in their social media posts.

Not only will the message get out to would-be travellers, it also won’t cost the LVCVA much. The authority collaborated with several resorts to host the influencers last weekend and more will be coming in weeks ahead.

In addition, another key date on the LVCVA’s calendar is April 8, Global Meetings Industry Day, when it will partner with Caesars Entertainment Inc. to bring meeting planners to see the Las Vegas Convention Center’s West Hall expansion as well as new or refreshed meeting facilities developed by Caesars, Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Resorts International.

“There’s real benefit in the authenticity of others telling Las Vegas’ story,” Hill said.

“It helps get the word out that’s different and a kind of broader way,” he said. “It speaks to people who are thinking about travelling again. They want to hear from travellers that the experience was good and that the experience was safe. So it provides that third-party validation of what our typical message is that for some are not ready to hear that. Hearing from those who are travelling provides that reassurance.”

The LVCVA’s marketing strategy was revealed March 1 at a marketing committee meeting at which representatives of R&R Partners, the LVCVA’s contracted marketing and advertising consultant described how it intends to convince conventioneers and tourists to return to Southern Nevada.

According to plans the consultant outlined, the authority would use social media and multiple media channels to document the preparation and safety being undertaken in advance of conventions, put some of that preparation on video and distribute it so that other meeting planners and potential show participants can see evidence of how prepared Las Vegas will be to return to the meetings business.

R&R got a head start on the plan March 1, officially launching Fast Forward, a series of initiatives that have become a part of the LVCVA’s “Vegas Means Business” website for meetings and conventions.

Fast Forward plays off the city’s “perpetual reinvention” and “constant redefinition” with the LVCVA’s brand new — and still unused — $987.1 million West Hall expansion as a centerpiece.

The Fast Forward section of the website is filled with stories, photographs, maps and videos showing all of the city’s convention and meeting facilities. R&R is counting on meeting planners to weave some of those photos and stories into their pitches to businesses, organizations and trade associations that are on the fence about whether to meet in person or virtually.

R&R figures that showing off the city’s meeting facilities and health and safety modifications to associations and their members will provide a new comfort level that will convince doubters that a convention or trade show can be held safely.

Richard N. Velotta, The Associated Press

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