A new statewide program sees six community projects in rural Nevada tapping into the emerging market for mixed travel and convention delegates enjoying a break from the bright lights of the Strip.
Nevada’s Tourism Division is launching a 10-year plan to attract convention and conference visitors away from Las Vegas to other areas of the state.
Travel Nevada’s 3D program has identified several projects that will receive consulting services for at least seven months and access to $2 million in funding provided by the US Economic Development Administration, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.
The project manager believes there is now an opportunity for them to tap into mixed travelers as more employees add vacations to conventions and business meetings as they embrace remote working.
“Many business travelers aren’t looking for a gambling-like experience,” said Cortney Bloomer, destination development manager at Travel Nevada.
“With so many hybrid work and work-from-home schedules, many business travelers are looking for places where they can work for a while, where they can bring their family and have an Airbnb or an apartment in a place that meets their needs. Many people love outdoor recreation, so our rural communities are able to provide that kind of getaway,” she added.
Longer term thinking
Six projects are involved: White Pine County; black rock; Lincoln County; Nevada Indian Territory (aimed at building cultural awareness and identity); City of Boulder; and Carson City, Carson Valley and Virginia City (which joined forces.)
Each will be guided by a local steering committee representing local businesses and community stakeholders with an interest in advancing tourism. And in collaboration with the consulting firm Better Destinations, they will ultimately develop a 10-year plan to develop their attractiveness to visitors and develop their economies through tourism.
The focus is on outdoor recreation, nature, culture and the arts.
The program is a world apart from previous projects in the region. MGM Resorts, for example, turned hotel rooms into offices during the Covid-19 pandemic. This move was short-lived as even under strict Covid emergency orders and enforcements, Las Vegas later became the most popular business travel destination in the United States in 2021.
It also continued its run as a popular business destination through 2022, with 2 million people attending conferences and events from January to May.
So it’s no surprise that the city’s outliers now want to redirect some of those travelers in their direction.
“A lot of our rural destinations actually have a lot of things that business travelers are looking for,” Bloomer added. “And they are accessible from our main hub. If you’re coming to Las Vegas for a business trip, it’s easy to get to Lincoln County, home to some of our best mountain biking trails.
The program will also educate Las Vegas concierges and other hospitality workers to become “dashboard insiders” to promote destinations.
Bloomer downplayed the risk of some sites being overrun by tourists, as the program puts local businesses and communities at the center and will work on any capacity and infrastructure issues.
There will be site visits over the next few months, to conduct an analysis of footfall and visitor segmentation, and to identify any gaps in amenities, according to Bloomer.
“At the same time, we do a lot of capacity building and education type activities with them. Allowing them to be resilient and vibrant destinations,” she added.
More evidence that travel time for business travel continues to rise, with a new survey revealing that hybrid working and work-from-anywhere policies are driving the increase.
Advantage Travel Partnership, the UK’s largest consortium of independent travel agents, took the pulse of its member travel agencies and one in three reported an increase in the duration of business trips.
The reason is that hybrid working continues and “work from anywhere” policies that allow travelers to stay in a destination longer, according to its latest business impact survey, released Thursday.
This week, Marriott International executives also said they believe the pandemic surge of travelers with both business and leisure travel goals will now have a long-term impact on the hospitality industry.
Hybrid working is also the most popular working model in the UK, according to a new report from mobility platform Mobileo this week. “Most organizations have favored the hybrid model since the pandemic,” he said, citing research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development that found more than three-quarters of organizations use the model.
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