LAT: Fantasy meets economic reality

Richard Abowitz has an entry in his LA Times blog, Movable Buffet, that really caught my fancy, "Vegas:Fantasy meets economic reality"

His point: anyone who looks beyond the neon sees the Vegas economy shorting out. The casinos are asking, "how are we to survive the downturn" which cascades to employees which cascades to the city's economy.

He writes, "Vegas only knows how to grow and we are still growing, but no one knows if all those rooms will attract people as has always been true in years past."

Hey Vegas, I live in Silicon Valley - believe me - we understand your pain. The first dot com bust had us scratching our a**es in bewilderment. But herein is the difference. We didn't whine and cry. We kicked in and said, "where's the opportunity in this lousy atmosphere?"

The casino industry is not a failing industry (think newspapers). The casino industry will come back.

But much as I love Vegas (and every reader knows I adore it) the place has turned into a stuffy company town that only knows how to solve problems through spending cuts. Players programs are getting stingy, housekeeping is getting shoddy, food is more mediocre, drink service is slower, slots are tighter. Yep - room rates are low, and casino personnel are friendlier, but if the various Vegas discussion threads are correct, employees have less authority, casino hosts less pull, and management hides from customers who want to give feedback.

What Vegas needs is a few wild-eyed visionaries who are asking, "What can we do so that when this recession ends, we are stronger and have more loyal customers than we had at the beginning? Where should we be investing in players now so that when the downturn ends, we're making dozens of dollars for every one we invested?"

I've never seen such a lack of innovative marketing as I've seen in Vegas during this downturn.

If I could make any position for myself right now, it would be a "players' ambassador." I'd bring new openness to communications, start blogs, survey constantly, have e-mail contests, tell folks what we realistically can do, explore ways to reward long-time players even if they cut back this year, meet the "new generation" of players, and establish relationships with every Vegas blogger. I'd Twitter from the bars, have an iPhone app, do something with Facebook. Come on Vegas - even your over-50 set is online!

We all know Vegas will come back. The question is which casinos will credit 2008/09 as being the beginning of a brilliant future, and which will say it was the end of a good ride.

Walking Map of Strip

Just saw this useful walking map of the Vegas Strip and wanted to share - i especially like it shows where the overhead walkways are.

It's not exactly accurate - for instance, it shows 5 minutes between Ballys and Paris, but actually there is an indoor walkway between the two that makes it a very quick walk. But little quibbles aside, this is a nice resource.

Ouch! 90 Minute Delays Expected at McCarran

Runway construction will cause one of the prime runways at McCarran Airport to be closed from Nov 1 to May 1 - expect 90 minute delays in peak hours.

It's never fun to be sitting at the airport (at either end) - especially when you are excited about going to Vegas or so dog-tired from the trip you can' t wait to be home. So be prepared to be patient and possibly reconsider your flight times.

Southwest Airlines Blog

NBAA blog

Airliners Net Thread (this one is full of jargon but interesting)

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