Economics

The Economics of Visiting Las Vegas in 2011

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A crowd of people with Fremont Street Experience in the background

Our times are tough but we still want to vacation. Work needs to stop every so often so we can breathe a bit and take a timeout. Recently I vacationed in Las Vegas and I was surprised at what I experienced. Las Vegas has definitely undergone some belt-tightening. Our first cab driver was laid off from Caesar’s Palace. He said that there had been thousands of layoffs over the past 12 months as vacationers all around the country cancelled or postponed plans to visit the area. He expressed how he’d lost his good job at Caesar’s and how he could barely make ends meet for his family of five. I patted him on the shoulder and told him how I had been laid off recently as well.

We got to our hotel – Planet Hollywood. It was our favorite because my wife likes the food there and the proximity to other hotels. I like the nearby monorail stop and the underground shops. We noticed pedestrian traffic was much lighter than we’d seen in our previous trips to Las Vegas. There seemed to be just as many locals as tourists walking the streets. Normally that time of year is packed with tourists but not this time. 2010 seemed to be a pretty tough year for tourism in general, but Las Vegas had been given a double dose of bad news with high unemployment, and a devastated local real estate market. We spoke with other tourists and they seemed to relish the exclusive nature of Las Vegas. It was painfully evident that fewer people were walking the streets. The usual pitches to tourists were replaced with more signs encouraging gambling and deals on touring packages.

There were discount show booths that allowed you to pick up exclusive shows like the Cirque series for less than $100 per person. Rooms were heavily discounted, shows were heavily discounted but food was at a premium. You don’t have to see shows and you don’t have to go on tours but you must eat. Our food bill was averaging $150 per day! This was until we found some packages to lower our food costs to $39.99 per day per person. There were package deals in the hotel where you could purchase the buffet for $39.99 per day. Had we known it sooner, we could have saved $300. Based on our fairly recent visit, here are some tips we picked up:

  1. Order a package that includes some breaks on food while you are there.
  2. Purchase all day long food passes if possible.
  3. Check out the newer hotels near or in City Center. They have fantastic deals.
  4. $4.99 steak and eggs is history. Don’t waste your time looking for it.
  5. Look for packages that feature include free gambling money, some packages can save you handsomely on gambling money a few provide up to $100 in slot credits.
  6. For discounts on shows check out ticket stores on the strip. Some of these offer $75 to $100 discounts on shows going on the same day.

I pride myself in learning from bad financial experiences, and if I can help someone else avoid my pain, I try to repackage what I’ve learned. Las Vegas is filled with some great deals right now if you know where to look. Take these tips and save some money on your next visit there.

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