By David Stratton | Just like the rest of Nevada, Laughlin has taken a hit with the slumping economy and higher gas prices. So far this year, visitor volume is down 5.2 percent and gaming revenues have slipped 6.8 percent compared to last year.
However, theres a wealth of good news for the resort town on the Colorado River: visitor satisfaction is at an all-time high and those who travel here come specifically to gamble, with a bankroll 42 percent larger than their counterparts on the Las Vegas Strip.
Moreover, so-called "day-trippers" have all but disappeared over the last few years. These were folksy low-rollers bused in for just a day, typically with small gambling budgets and big appetites for the buffets.
Those are some of the results of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authoritys recently-released visitor survey for Laughlin.
In a sense, many of the findings reflect the opinions held by visitors to the Las Vegas Strip 10 years ago.
For instance, when asked if they were "very satisfied" with their visit to Laughlin, 97 percent of those polled said yes, an all-time high. The visitor satisfaction level on the Strip hasnt been that high since 1999 when it eclipsed 99 percent.
Last year, visitor satisfaction on the Strip dropped to 89 percent, an all-time low.
Heading the list of factors contributing to visitor satisfaction were cost of the lodging, quality of accommodations, the weather, gambling facilities, a friendly and laid back environment and being on the Colorado River.
Cheap rooms the $42 per night average is about one-third the cost of a room on the Strip and inexpensive dining, as well as a lack of high-end shows and costly spas, allows Laughlin customers to focus their time on gambling.
The percentage of Laughlin visitors who said they gamble in a casino topped 99.8 percent, the highest ever. And their gambling budget of $787 is nearly 42 percent larger than the $555 spent by Strip casino customers.
Obviously, theyre doing something right in Laughlin. "They" includes the Laughlin Visitors Bureau division of the LVCVA.
Bureau manager Meg Daniel said the resort town has undertaken a new marketing campaign with the slogan, "Its Like You Own the Place," which replaces "Founded on Fun."
That has a nice ring to it. Maybe the casinos in Las Vegas could learn a lesson or two from their cousins on river.
LAUGHLIN FAST FACTS
|Location: 90 miles southwest of Las Vegas on the Colorado River|
|Visitor volume: 4.5 million per year|
|Hotels: Nine casino resorts|
|Accommodations: About 10,700 hotel/motel rooms|
|Average daily room rate: $42|
|Recreation: Boating, swimming, golf, backpacking and hiking|
|For more information: go to www.visitlaughlin.com|