Nevada: A Year Long And Diverse Destination For Corporate MICE Travellers

Industry Watch | February 1, 2016 | Interview

Nevada Department of Tourism

In an exclusive interview, Mark Hutchison, Lieutenant Governor of Nevada and Chairman of the Nevada Division of Tourism and Larry Friedman, Deputy Director of Sales and Industry Partners at the Nevada Division of Tourism, talk on creating greater awareness of Nevada as a year-long and diverse destination for Corporate MICE travellers.
Q. Why should planners choose Nevada as a destination to hold an event?
Hutchison: When I look at the reports and what people want in India, their number one destination is the United States. Then, when they think about entertainment and hospitality, Las Vegas is what comes to their mind. We have hotel and casino owners who are very keen on bringing many tourists, decision-makers and operators to Las Vegas and providing them a wonderful experience that’ll give them a chance to experience the full flavor of Nevada. The same holds true for other parts of Nevada, for instance in Elko, the operators are extremely motivated as well. Las Vegas is also one of the most connected destinations in the world. It offers easy travel and that is something which is very important for planners.
Q. What are the attractive incentive options across Nevada that will elevate a MICE itinerary and encourage corporate groups to host their events there?
Hutchison: In terms of infrastructure for meetings and incentives, Las Vegas, is phenomenal and there are a number of unique experiences that await you across Nevada. The best part is that you don’t have to travel 3-5 hours to soak in diverse experiences as some are merely an hour away from Las Vegas. From the quintessential tourist experiences of Las Vegas to the scenic rural towns of Ely and Tonopah, from the buzzing downtown scene at Reno to the tranquil alpine beauty of Lake Tahoe, the cowboy traditions of Elko to the engineering marvel that is Hoover Dam, there are a wealth of experiences for visitors to the state. One the most mountainous states in the USA, Nevada offers dramatic landscapes and spectacular sites. Among the many scenic drives in Nevada, Highway 50 (also known as the Loneliest Road in America) and Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway stand out as prime examples of the natural beauty of the state. Within a very short distance from Las Vegas, you can get the Western United States experience.
Q. What assistance (in terms of services provided) do you offer to planners across the globe?
Friedman: We can put travel professionals in contact with receptive operators, tour operators, hoteliers, etc. and with marketing and sales tools if it’s an incentive house looking for images and contacts. India is an exciting market for us in view of the steady growth of visitor arrivals from India to US in the last few years.
Hutchison: As mentioned earlier, we have hotel and casino owners who want to get the planners in and will go the extra mile to accommodate them.
Q. Tell us about the new convention centres and hotels set to open across Nevada in the coming years? Could you also shed light on some of the popular convention centres running presently.
Hutchison: We have the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority that has announced a major expansion of convention facilities. We will double or more than double the convention space in Las Vegas. We will have frontage from the convention centres on the strip itself. The Riviera Hotel & Casino was purchased by the authority and is located on the strip. Las Vegas is in competition with the world’s greatest convention locations like Orlando, Chicago, New York and we are absolutely committed as a state to be of gold standard when it comes to conventions. We host the equivalent of a superbowl audience and visitation every single weekend. We have more hotel rooms on one intersection, LV Boulevard, which is the strip and Tropicana, than most cities have in the entire city. One of our hotels The Palazzo has more square footage than the Pentagon. We do conventions and visitations like nobody else in the world.
Friedman: A lot of mining expos come to Elko. The Venetian, The Palazzo and Caesars Palace have certainly made a name for themselves with their convention facilities. I would also like to add to that the recent opening of Terminal 3 at the International airport that has added to the number of international flights coming in to Las Vegas everyday, providing greater access to planners all over the world.
Q. There has been some major shift in the strategy of tourism marketing and social media plays a remarkable role. How effectively does Indonesia use Social Media as a tool of communication? What is the kind of response you have recorded?
Friedman: The benefit of social media to a state like Nevada is that not only can we get a word out about Las Vegas but that it gives us a platform to get a word out about towns like Elko, Ely or Winnemucca. Our social media strategy is one we will discuss with our representation (Sartha Global Marketing) this week.
Hutchison: The Nevada Commission on Tourism has specifically hired companies within the United States to market the whole campaign  ‘Nevada: A World Within, A State Apart’. We aim to achieve a major integration of that campaign not only through television and billboards but majorly through social media which is what we are going after with an earmarked marketing budget.
Q. Green tourism or eco-tourism is a popular theme that's coming up all over the world. What’s your take on the same?
Hutchison: We are one of the leaders in the United States on solar energy and green energy. Geothermo is a major energy source up north in Nevada. Nevada is a leader in alternative energy. Some of the biggest solar fields are just outside Las Vegas. We also have a renewable energy portfolio requirement by the law. Nevada has to produce 25% of its energy by renewable resources. We are very progressive when it comes to green technology.
Q. India is a promising market for MICE and B2B tourism. What steps are you taking to reach out to more planners across India? 
Friedman: We are forming partnerships with some of the top operators. The two operators we have started with are Thomas Cook and Vacations Exotica. Some of the things we are doing with them are pretty traditional. We have had a couple of familiarization trips with tour operators and are currently working on the next one with the media. The media is crucial in India to get the word out to such a large population. We are also a part of the Brand USA Mission that’ll help us gain access to more planners across India.
Hutchison: One of the major reasons I’m here is that I can meet and talk to the media and underscore how important the state of Nevada believes that they are to our tourism. It is our aim to convince people how dedicated we are in exposing Nevada to Indian tourists.

“In Nevada, you don’t have to travel 3-5 hours to soak in diverse experiences as some are merely an hour away from Las Vegas” - Mark Hutchison, Lieutenant Governor of Nevada.

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