A new state-wide program predicts six community projects across rural Nevada will tap into the emerging blended travel market, and that convention delegates will welcome a break from the Strip’s bright lights.
The Nevada Division of Tourism is launching a 10-year plan to entice convention and conference visitors away from Las Vegas to other regions in the state.
Travel Nevada’s 3D Program has identified several projects that will receive consulting services for at least seven months, and access to a $2 million pot of funding provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.
The project leader believes there’s now scope for them to tap into blended travelers, as more employees add on vacations to conventions and business meetings as they embrace remote work.
“Many business travelers aren’t looking for a gambling type 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 from for a period of time, where they could take their families and have an Airbnb or an apartment in a place that meets their needs. A lot of folks are into outdoor recreation, so our rural communities are able to offer that sort of getaway,” she added.
Longer Term Thinking
There are six projects involved: White Pine County; Black Rock; Lincoln County; Nevada’s Indian Territory (aimed at strengthening cultural awareness and identity); Boulder City; and Carson City, Carson Valley and Virginia City (which have joined forces.)
Each will be guided by a local steering committee representing local business and community stakeholders with an interest in advancing tourism. And working with the Better Destinations consultancy, they’ll eventually draw up a 10-year plan, to develop their appeal to visitors and expand their economies through tourism.
There’s a focus on outdoor recreation, nature, culture and the arts throughout.
The program is a world apart from the region’s previous projects. MGM Resorts, for example, pitched hotel rooms as offices during the Covid-19 pandemic. That initiative was short lived as even during an emergency order and strict Covid enforcements, Las Vegas later emerged as the most popular business travel destination in the U.S. in 2021.
It continued its run as a popular corporate destination into 2022 as well, with 2 million people attending conferences and events from January to May.
So it’s no surprise the city’s outliers want to now 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’re accessible from our main hub. If you’re coming into Vegas on a business type trip, it’s easy to head out to Lincoln County where some of our best mountain biking trails are.”
The program will also educate Las Vegas concierges and other hospitality workers to become “battleboard insiders” to promote the destinations.
Bloomer played down the risk that some sites could be overrun with tourists, because the program puts local businesses and communities at the center and will work on any capacity and infrastructure issues.
There will be on-site visits over the coming months, to perform analysis around visitation and visitor segmentation, and to identify any gaps in amenities, according to Bloomer.
“At the same time, we’re doing a lot of capacity building, and education type stuff with them. Enabling them to be resilient, vibrant destinations,” she added.
More evidence that the trip duration for business travel is still rising, with a new survey revealing hybrid working and work from anywhere policies are behind the increase.
Advantage Travel Partnership, Britain’s largest consortium of independent travel agents, took the pulse of its travel agency members and one in three reported an increase in length of business travel trips.
The reason is down to hybrid working continues and “work from anywhere” polices that enable travelers to stay in a destination for a longer period, according to its latest Business Impact Survey, published Thursday.
This week, executives at Marriott International also said they believed the pandemic surge in travelers having blended trip purposes of both business and leisure will now have a long-term impact on the hotel sector.
Hybrid working is also the most popular working model in the UK, said a new report from mobility platform Mobileo this week. “Most organisations have favoured the hybrid model since the pandemic,” it said, citing research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development that more than three-quarters of organisations use the model.
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