Published Wednesday, April 5, 2017 | 12:31 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, April 5, 2017 | 10 p.m.
A spike in millennial visitors to Las Vegas has the generation almost eclipsing Generation X tourists in town.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority released its annual Las Vegas Visitors Profile on Wednesday, made up of survey results from 3,600 participants, confirming millennials are poised to make up the largest chunk of Las Vegas tourist numbers.
About 34 percent of the almost 43 million visitors to Las Vegas were millennials last year, up from 24 percent in 2015. Generation X visitors dropped from 36 percent to 35 percent, and Baby Boomers fell from 35 percent to 28 percent during the same timeframe.
Tied to that, the average age of the Las Vegas visitor in 2016 was 44 years old, the youngest in 20 years. Additionally, the percentage of first-time visitors rose sharply to 27 percent, up from 16 percent last year.
“We had pretty significant growth in younger visitors, as the millennial visitor did increase that first-time visitation,” said Kevin Bagger, executive director of the LVCVA’s Research Center. “If you’re a younger visitor, you’re less likely to have been here before, because you have less time to have done that.”
To make Las Vegas more attractive to millennials, the authority is focusing on tech-related initiatives.
“Millennials are synonymous with selfies and capturing experiences via images to share out,” Bagger said. “GIFs (and) unique photo booths that create GIFs from captured images and allow users to share out their pictures quickly via social media are used at events for marketing purposes. It engages users and furthers brand recognition and audience reach. Furthermore, we use various social media platforms to reach millennials.”
In addition, the authority introduced its trade show booth labeled Vegas Interactive, which features an interactive video wall that allows users to access detailed information about hotels, convention spaces and other areas via touch screen.
“Las Vegas is a unique destination, offering more hotel rooms than any other city in the country and three of the top 10 largest convention centers, and the breadth of experiences and facilities can be overwhelming for potential visitors,” Bagger said. “By giving guests the opportunity to explore this interactive wall mural, our new trade show booth creates a unique and memorable brand connection to Vegas.”
A jump in international visitors also played into the first-time visitor increase, as overseas travelers are less likely to have visited as well, Bagger said.
The survey showed that 69 percent of people gambled while on their trip to Las Vegas, down 18 percent from 1996 when 87 percent of tourists said they gambled. Those gamblers were playing an average of 1.9 hours a day in 2016, down from 4.1 hours in 1996.
Despite that, the average amount of gambling money a visitor budgeted increased in 2016, with those who gambled setting aside $619. That’s more than the average player in 1996, who budgeted $581.
Additionally, spending was up across the board for several demographics. The average tourist spent $675 per trip, not including gaming spendage. That is up from $565 the average tourist spent in 2015.
• Food and drink: $318 ($292 in 2015)
• Shopping: $157 ($123)
• Local transportation: $96 ($73)
• Shows: $68 ($62)
• Sightseeing: $36 ($15)
Last year, 52 percent of visitors attended a show or attractions, with 49 percent spending money to see those events. The volume is down slightly from 2015, as 61 percent of tourists said they saw an attraction, with 45 percent of them paying to see that show.
That sector features more than just the typical casino show, as Las Vegas offers a wide variety of entertainment options.
“The notion of entertainment continues to expand — it is broader than shows,” Bagger said. “It could be concerts, attractions, a celebrity DJ, nightclubs, dayclubs, festivals and sports.”
Bagger said that will continue to be the case, especially with major league sports teams coming to town. The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights begin play at the T-Mobile Arena this fall, and the NFL’s Raiders are aiming to begin playing in Las Vegas in 2020.
“The destination is now home to the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and is on the verge of welcoming a second major league franchise,” said Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the LVCVA. “Las Vegas is the top destination for high-profile sporting events, and NFL football is the next step in our evolution … As the entertainment capital of the world, it’s a phenomenal opportunity to expand our offerings to include Raider Nation.”
The number of tourists who visit outdoor areas around Southern Nevada has also risen, which Bagger attributes to millennials and their more adventurous nature. Twenty-one percent of visitors said they visited a nearby area, up from 16 percent in 2014.
Of those tourists who traveled outside of Las Vegas during their trip, the Grand Canyon was tops at 65 percent. Hoover Dam was the second-most popular destination at 57 percent and Zion National Park was the third most popular destination at 12 percent.
The amount of time visitors stay in Las Vegas saw a slight drop over the past 20 years, as the average tourist stayed 3.4 nights in 2016, down from 3.7 nights in 1996.
“Part of that was in response to the Great Recession when people were choosing to save money,” Bagger said. “It went down to 3.2 nights briefly, but we’ve recovered to 3.4 nights for the average stay.”
Of the tourists visiting Las Vegas, about 33 percent of them are coming from California — 27 percent from nearby Southern California.
The majority of visitors were generally satisfied with their trip to Las Vegas — 89 percent said they were very satisfied, 10 percent said they were somewhat satisfied, according to the LVCVA survey. Just 1 percent said they were somewhat dissatisfied with their trip. Those who said they we unhappy with their trip usually gave reasons outside of LVCVA’s control.
“The responses we usually get are: ‘I didn’t win enough money,’ ‘It’s hot,’ “A friend of mine got sick’ or ‘I didn’t have enough time,’” Bagger said.