Visitors spend more in Las Vegas, don’t let higher prices hinder their experience

March 12, 2024 9:00 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
March 12, 2024 9:00 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports

Visitors to Las Vegas, wealthier than ever, are gambling and spending more and are satisfied with their experience. They show no signs that higher prices prompt them to consider other destinations, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which released its annual visitor survey Tuesday.

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Kevin Bagger, vice president of the LVCVA Research Center, said the survey shows an increase in returning visitors and satisfaction among all visitors.

Spending continued to increase from pre-pandemic levels and visitors were more likely than in 2022 to say that Las Vegas exceeded their expectations, Bagger said.

The concern about rising prices in the resort corridor was evidenced, in part, by the average daily room rate reaching record levels in 2023. The rate on the Strip in 2023 was $204, a 12.3% increase from $182 in 2022. It was $143 in 2019 prior to the pandemic.

LVCVA board member Cedric Crear asked Bagger at Tuesday’s LVCVA meeting if Las Vegas is “at the point where it’s priced itself out” for tourists by moving away from its value orientation.

“We were very competitive with New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, London, Paris, and other cities around the world in terms of pricing,” Crear said. “In your professional opinion, is there going to be a tipping point at some point where we can only charge so much for (rooms) and parking and $22 to $23 for cocktails. Is that sustainable?”

Bagger responded that one of the reasons he collects the survey data is to learn that answer as well. He added, however, “Nothing in the data in a meaningful way shows that is deterring visitation at this point.”

Bagger said he’s lived in Las Vegas since 1971 and that it has evolved in terms of casino comps and pricing.

“We know that a lot of things were given away versus now when they’re charged,” Bagger said. “Las Vegans are sensitive to that evolution, but if you get out of Las Vegas, our pricing is better in terms of room rates than most major destinations. We’re still a value compared to other major urban destinations. We’re more expensive than Las Vegas was, but looking at the data, the visitor profile shows we have very strong satisfaction and a very strong desire to recommend amongst across market segments. We keep an eye on that. Obviously, we don’t want Las Vegas to detour any visitor for whatever reason, but this profile doesn’t suggest that.”

Crear said they will learn that’s the case when visitors stop coming to Las Vegas.

The city recorded 40.8 million visitors in 2023, a 5.2% increase from 2022, as it continues to rebound from the dropoff during the pandemic. It had 42.5 million visitors in 2019.

LVCVA CEO Steve Hill told the board that the Las Vegas market meets all budgets. Though average daily room rates have increased, they match up to the cost of living index since 2017.

“We have 150,000 hotel rooms of all price levels for every budget out there,” Hill said. “Prices depend on what the demand is.”

The survey showed per-trip spending increased significantly across most categories, particularly for lodging, food and drink, shopping, sightseeing, and local transportation.

Among visitors, food and drink spending reached a high of $570.15 in 2023. Other spending that increased significantly in 2023 include shopping ($414.01), local transportation ($238.02), and sightseeing ($177.47). Visitors spent less in 2023 than in 2022 for shows/entertainment at $278.44, down from $309.76.

More visitors gambled during their stay in 2023 at 79%, up from 75% in 2022, and the average trip gaming budget was a record $787, up from $761 in 2022, well above pre-pandemic levels of $591 in 2019 and $527 in 2018.

There’s good news in that as Millennials have aged, their average gaming budgets have grown 133% since 2018.

Casino executives haven’t been concerned that they’re losing customers to higher prices and are instead attracting wealthier customers.

More visitors reported a household income greater than $100,000 (47%) compared to 28% in 2019. In 2023, 21% of visitors earned $150,000 or more, up from 9% in 2018. In contrast, those earning less than $80,000 declined from 40% to 32%.

Nearly nine in 10 (87%) visitors to Las Vegas in 2023 said that they were “very satisfied” with their visit, up from 77% in 2022, when property amenities started their return after the pandemic – and edging closer to pre-pandemic levels. Some 11% said they were “somewhat satisfied.” Only 2% of visitors were dissatisfied with their visit.

Nearly half of 2023 visitors (48%) said that Las Vegas exceeded their expectations, up from 41% last year.

Over eight in 10 visitors (84%) were ”extremely” (65%) or “very” (19%) likely to return to Las Vegas for vacation or leisure in the future. It was a combined 87% in 2022.

The trend of parents bringing their kids to Las Vegas since the pandemic continues to remain elevated. Some 16% of 2023 visitors said they were traveling with people under 21 years old in their party, the same as in 2022, but up significantly from pre-pandemic results, when it was 5% to 6%, the report said.

That’s reflected in the average number of people per room at 2.3, down slightly from 2.4 in 2022, but still up significantly from the norm of two per room pre-pandemic.

Some 6% of visitors attended a sporting event during their Las Vegas visit, on par with last year, but up significantly from 4% in 2019 and 2% in 2018. Those attending spent approximately $326 at a sporting event, up from $272 in 2022.

These visitors were more likely to be male (59%) and about one-third were visiting from Arizona (27%) and Utah (8%). Sports visitors were more likely to book their lodging within two weeks of their visit (43% versus 28% of other visitors) and to be traveling with someone under 21 years old in their party (44% versus 14%). Aside from sporting events, sports visitors also spent more on food and drink and shopping than other visitors.

The average age of 2023 visitors increased to 43.8 years old, up from a relatively low 40.7 years old in 2022, but in line with prior years. That wasn’t attributed to the return of Baby Boomers, but a higher percentage of Gen X.

The 2023 visitor profile continues to be more ethnically diverse, with higher rates of Asian/Asian American and African American/black visitors. In 2018, 23% of visitors were multicultural, a number that grew to 39% in 2023. In contrast, white visitors have declined from 77% to 61% over that same timeframe.

The report also showed that 2023 visitors were overall more likely to be married. About two in three visitors were married, significantly higher than 2021 and 2022 levels, but down from the 78% in 2018. Some 30% of visitors in 2023 were single, up from 16% in 2018.

Nearly one-half (48%) of 2023 visitors said the main purpose of their trip was for vacation/pleasure, down from 58% last year. More visitors said the main purpose of their trip was visiting friends/relatives (19% versus 12%), to gamble (8% versus 6%), or for a convention or corporate meeting (7% versus 5%) than in 2022.

First-timers (16% of visitors) represent a unique audience within the overall visitor base for Las Vegas, the report said. While they tend to be younger and lower income, these individuals also typically stay longer and do and spend more. In addition, first-time visitors represent an opportunity for potential visitation over the long-term with 66% of first-timers reporting they expect to return in the next two years.

Visitors who said they came to Las Vegas for a special personal occasion were asked what the occasion was; 50% said it was for a birthday. Romance was also in the air, as over one-third of these visitors cited an anniversary or romantic getaway (18%), a wedding (9%), or a bachelor or bachelorette party (8%), the report said.
More than three in ten 2023 visitors (32%) came from southern California, up from 18% in 2019. The level of visitors from abroad (12%) remains below the pre-pandemic level of 20% in 2018.

Convention visitors accounted for 9% of Las Vegas visitors in 2023. They were likelier than other visitors to be male and 40 to 59 years old, have a college or postgraduate degree, and to have household incomes of $100,000 and higher, the report said.

While conventioneers reported longer stays than non-convention visitors, they were less likely to gamble or see live entertainment. Convention visitors, however, spent “significantly more” than other visitors on food and drink and local transportation during their stay.

Las Vegas visitors went to an average of 3.7 casinos during their stay, down from 4.3 casinos in 2022. They gambled at an average of 1.8 casinos, down from 2.2 in 2022.

One-quarter of visitors (26%) attended shows or entertainment, down from 30% in 2022. Visitors who went to paid attractions (31%) during their trip decreased from 37% in 2022.

More than half (54%) of visitors included a trip to the downtown Las Vegas, down from 58% in 2022, but ahead of 46% and 42% in 2018 and 2019, respectively.