Las Vegas: Taking Sales To The Streets By Christopher G. Axelrod August 28, 2014 at 6:52 am Las Vegas Boulevard now can be seen as a classic carnival midway. The increase of street pedestrians is obvious and the street-accessible opportunities to spend are widely evident. This is no accident. If you drove the strip 20 years ago it was far more open, with few to no businesses on side streets, because the master plan of every significant casino was to define its brand with an elaborate themed entrance, to get patrons inside their doors, and then hold them. Creating a sense of “wow”, upon entrance, would generate enthusiasm and that would lead to longer on-premise spending. The iconic casinos knew the value of offering everything that a consumer could desire, to guarantee satisfaction and repeat loyalty. It was a design that consistently delivered good revenues. Caesars Palace was the original epitome of this grand concept, opening in August 1966. It was larger than life and worth experiencing just for the bragging rights. The Bellagio, The Mirage, and Treasure Island followed under the dramatic vision of Steve Wynn. Those days and design mindsets are long gone. Retail has been strategically expanded to capture dollars on the streets, along with top-rated dining and entertainment. Gaming options have remained a fixture amidst this flurry. The contest for everyone to get their part of tourism spending is visibly creeping closer to the streets. There are now carnival-style barkers pitching promotions and deals, working to grab attention. The sidewalks are full and often bottlenecked. Crosswalks can barely contain the humanity armed with shopping bags and strollers. Everybody is dressed in comfort casual yet they have money and credit cards, embracing the experience according to their desires, passions and spending limits. In 2010 The Cosmopolitan was the first of the newer casinos to reverse the norm, by making casino access off the sidewalk very easy. This new model worked. Easy access got customers in quicker, but annual sales figures still depended on the attractiveness and quality of internal offerings. But now there is much within mere yards from the sidewalk and the results are positive. The Serendipity pub in front of Caesars and the many candy shops, concessions, bars and small retail stores scattered at street levels throughout the strip may be obstructing the grandeur of the legendary palaces, but they are achieving impulse sales from those who are no longer willing to endure the drama of extended entrances. Tourists are on the move. Even the more sophisticated street buskers have flocked in droves to work these busy sidewalks, adding obstacles to the crowded pedestrian flow. The new tourism has much less time for pomp and formality. Fremont Street casinos are wide open for immediate access. The additional sales revenue is found at street level. This significant new revenue underscores the fact that our world now consumes more than ever before. Caesars new successful Linq project is being mirrored by the new MGM Park mall under construction at New York New York; both reflect the new retail mindset. The goal is to lure visitors in with fine shopping and dining options, with many convenient entrances available to the main casino. It is smart business. If the consumer does not feel inspired to spend money in one category, then they can spend it in another. These patrons are carrying digital devices and can easily communicate with each other as well as research destinations and plan their agendas on mobile devices. Nobody fears getting lost or separated. There is something to be said about an indirect entertainment offering from this sidewalk social phenomenon: People-watching is fun. Our busy digital lifestyles can limit the extent to which we engage with others as the social creations that we are. To perch at a sidewalk pub or diner and watch others en masse is entertainment within itself, and it’s free. The addition of many slow-moving double-sided billboard trucks on the streets, touting shows and specials to the throngs on the streets as well as those with street views, is evidence of this growing advertising market. Yes, they snarl any hopes of vehicular traffic moving at a reasonable speed, but that keeps pedestrians safer. How much more pedestrian foot traffic can the strip handle? A migration to the new attractions at the north end of the strip will offer some congestion relief. Still, every savvy casino corporation knows the value of deriving sales from their real estate, so any unused walk or garden is a prime target for developing yet another spending attraction. Bottom lines and earnings reports now seem to take precedent over glamour and aesthetics. LED billboards and signs are larger and brighter than ever, working to get street attention. Sales are increasing from all these marketing initiatives, but that just seems to lead to new announcements of future real estate developments. Beyond all these new offerings, there are still record crowds in front of the Bellagio’s lake of dancing fountains and The Mirage’s volcano, watching dramatic evening shows. These have provided decades of free entertainment and classic Las Vegas photo opportunities, to the delight of millions. Will they be the next attractions to be redeveloped, sailing the sunken course of the ships of Treasure Island? Time and sales will tell as escalating maintenance costs are considered. The bustling street life on the strip and downtown make Las Vegas look like a boomtown. Spreading the wealth and capturing new interests have proven the benefits of taking sales to the streets.