Will we be ready to re-open?

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The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s commercial flashed across my television screen, the images all too familiar.

It was an aerial view of Las Vegas at night. Lights on. Neon flashing. The narrator’s voice reassuring, telling us to look after ourselves and each other and that when you’re ready to return, the city will be there to welcome you back.

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Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Yes, Las Vegas’ resiliency will eventually shine through. However, if history taught us anything, it’s not going to happen overnight.

This city has taken a lot of big shots in a short time from the coronavirus. March Madness never happened. We’ve had conventions, big and small, cancel. The NFL Draft is pulling out of town. The Electric Daisy Carnival is on pause.

We’ve claimed to be the Boxing Capital of the World. If this were a boxing match, most referees would have been inclined to stop the fight, even though we’re only in the first round. It feels like Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks or Frank Bruno.

But we’re a city with more guts than Frank Bruno. We’re more like the late Diego Corrales, who never backed down, who kept fighting, who showed great heart and who never quit.

That’s the Vegas I know. This is the city that rallied after 9/11. This is the community that hung together during the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Most of all, this is the town that helped itself heal after the senseless violence of Oct. 1, 2017.

So if we’re going to get through the coronavirus pandemic, what’s the plan when things do indeed return to normal? Will the hotels and casinos take care of their employees? Will they go beyond a clever TV ad by the LVCVA to entice people to visit?

I would hope those in charge are coming up with something. I was talking to Gaming Today owner Bill Paulos last week. He has been in the casino and hospitality business most of his life. He understands it.

Bill’s advice? Stage a grand re-opening. Not just for the MGM or Stations or Wynn. For all of Las Vegas. Make it feel special and that you’d be missing out if you weren’t here.

I think he’s on to something.

For the last few years, visitors have been hit with rising resort fees to use the pool, work out in the gym or have wifi. Residents who wanted to come down to the Strip for dinner or a show were being forced to pay to park at most places.

Frankly, it alienated everyone. Even those who wouldn’t normally give a $38 per day resort fee a second glance noticed and they didn’t like what they saw.

So, for starters, how about eliminating resort fees altogether? They’re irritating and unnecessary. I  have said all along, just raise the price of the room and include everything in the price. At least people won’t feel like they’re being nickeled and dimed to death.

And as far as those room rates go, make them affordable. Better to have some revenue and more occupancy than less people visiting and staying. Don’t gouge. It’s as bad as those who hoard toilet paper at Costco or the supermarket.

And let’s open up those gates to the parking garages, shall we? Folks visiting from California, from Utah and other states shouldn’t have to pay $20, $25 to park after driving four, five or six hours. As for the locals, it might entice them to come to the Strip, see a show, grab a meal, perhaps gamble a little.

And let’s hope those shows come back. Let’s hope the performers in the various Cirque du Soleil productions can return to work. Let’s see some creative marketing to get people to buy tickets and enjoy the performances. Again, like the analogy of the hotel rooms, wouldn’t you rather charge less and have more people in the seats instead of higher ticket prices and fewer bodies sitting in the showroom?

And the LVCVA will need to do its part. It will have to lobby hard for organizations to bring their convention business back to the city. It will have to reach out to organizations to come here that initially hadn’t planned on it. It’ll take more than a clear TV ad campaign to help get the town back up on its feet.

As we go through this dark and difficult time, we also know better days lie ahead. Let us take this moment to prepare, to be ready to welcome the world back to this special place 2.3 million of us call home.

Of course, let’s make sure we’re taking care of ourselves and each other so we can be around to welcome the world back.

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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