In co-hosting World Routes, seen as the catalyst to boosting international travel for host destinations, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and McCarran International Airport united to promote new Las Vegas offerings while pioneering their unique partnership.
Nineteen World Routes Development Forums have taken place all over the world, yet its show organizer, UBM Live, has never before seen a partnership like LVCVA and McCarran’s.
“This is the first time we worked with a CVB and an airport,” said Simon Parker, managing director, UBM Live. “Normally, we work with airports. We want to use this as a model going forward.”
By definition, Las Vegas is known for reinventing what was previously done. It has reinvented and rebranded several Strip hotels, from the Quad Resort and Casino, formerly the Imperial Palace, to the SLS Hotel and Casino, previously The Sahara. The city is constantly developing constructions, such as The Genting Group’s Resorts World Las Vegas, as well as new attractions like Caesars Entertainment’s LINQ, an open-air retail and entertainment district with a 550-foot observation wheel.
After McCarran’s Terminal 1 became too inefficient for the high volume of travelers, according to Chris Jones, public affairs and marketing manager at McCarran, the airport was reinvented with the opening of Terminal 3, dubbed T3, in June 2012.
The more than 2,800 delegates who descended at Terminal 3 experienced one of the reasons Las Vegas won the bid to host World Routes in the U.S. for the first time. Catering to international travelers who usually arrive at McCarran in the mornings is six of 14 gates at T3 that are designed to give them a full-service experience from sit-down restaurants to shopping as well as price sensitivity, free Wi-Fi and cellphone charging stations.
“World Routes helps determines where airlines will fly,” said Nigel Mayes, vice president of Commercial, Routes, UBM Live, and many of T3’s features could be seen as attractive to airlines and travelers.
“[McCarran] is a common-use operation, which is rare in the U.S., but not in Europe. It uses display monitors, so no airline has a fixed gate. This ensures different airlines can use the gates when needed. Kiosks featuring 14 airlines are owned by the airport, not the airline,” explained Jones. “We’re the first airport in North America where the kiosks are common use.”
International travelers’ entry into the U.S. is expedited by a 28-lane U.S. Customs and Border Protection port of entry, and when leaving, they can take advantage of the airport’s multi-airline ticketing kiosks and gates, radio frequency identification baggage tags, and self-ticketing and self-boarding devices.
What LVCVA brought to its partnership with McCarran was the third largest convention center in the country, Las Vegas Convention Center, which offered 2.2 million square feet of exhibit and meeting space for World Routes 2013 from Oct. 5-8.
Together their goal is to see increased airline service, domestically and internationally, 12-15 months after the conference.
“We have 200 international flights a week. Our objective is to increase this by 10 percent in the next 15 months,” explained Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO, LVCVA.
World Routes is expected to bring a $3.6 million economic impact to Las Vegas. Former host destinations, such as Chengdu, China; Vancouver; and Berlin, have seen huge economic impacts, according to Nigel Mayes.
“With World Routes, it’s about the seniority of the attendees – over 30 CEOs attended. This is the biggest and best Routes. It gives real credence to hosting it in this city,” said Simon Parker. “Las Vegas is a hard act to follow.”
On the last day of World Routes, LVCVA and McCarran officials handed over conference duties to Chicago, which is a major convention city and competitor of Las Vegas.
“The Mayor of Chicago said he wants to take business away from Las Vegas,” said Ralenkotter.
Chicago boasts McCormick Place, the largest convention center in the U.S. This facility served as one of the reasons Chicago won the bid to host what will be the 20th anniversary of World Routes from Sept. 20-23, 2014, according to Adrian Newton, group director of transport and technology, UBM Live.
“We look forward to welcoming you to the most American of American cities. Chicago has great connectivity and is serviced by more than 50 airlines. United Airlines and Boeing are headquartered [in Chicago],” said Rosemarie S. Andolino, commissioner, Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA). “We’re known for our food, entertainment and architecture. Chicago has walkability, ease of access and the flavor of a European city.”
CDA is partnering with Choose Chicago, the city’s official tourism promotion agency, to host World Routes 2014.
“Tourism is big business in the city,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO, Choose Chicago. “Our goal is to reach 50 million visitors by 2020. We’re close; we reached 39 million when Mayor Emanuel took office.” In 2011, Rahm Emanuel became Chicago’s 55th mayor.
Picking up where Las Vegas left off, Chicago will bring together decision makers from the world’s airlines, airports and tourism authorities, so they can plan air services and discuss strategies for the global aviation industry.