It was an evening of whoops and hollers, roaring applause, and travel agents enthusiastically waving their hands in the air (often, while standing on their chairs), which could only mean one thing: Las Vegas was in town.
Sin City delegates paid a visit to Toronto yesterday as the first stop on a three-city tour across Canada, spreading the word and educating partners on product available in the ever-evolving destination.
And this wasn't your typical event. In speed dating-style discussions, representatives had five minutes per table to share key points about their resort or service before moving on to the next one, and participants paid keen attention in order to answer questions correctly on a quiz that could earn them prizes.
Donald Spalding of Vegas' R&D Events brought great energy to the crowd as the emcee, and also made the perfect host for a few games, including a "song-off" and special Family Feud-style game show that also tested attendees on their Vegas knowledge.
Canada remains its number one international market, having welcomed 1.7 million neighbours from the North in 2013. That number is only expected to grow as air service saw a major bump, now with 123 weekly non-stop direct flights from nine cities across Canada to LAS.
Over the next several years, Las Vegas will see more than $9 billion reinvested into the destination, according to Jenelle Jacks, international public relations manager for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
This year alone, there have been a number of new openings, including the Delano Las Vegas (formerly THE Hotel at Mandalay Bay), The Cromwell (formerly Bill's Gambling Saloon) and the SLS Las Vegas (former Sahara Hotel).
"While they are not brand new buildings, they are reimagined and upgraded properties that have been rebranded," Jacks said. "You're going to get an entirely different feel, better customer service and more amenities that really speak to the Canadian customer."
Another new addition to the Strip is The LINQ, a $550 million retail, dining and entertainment district by Caesars Entertainment.
"This used to be a service corridor, and Caesars was able to take advantage of a lot of foot traffic and funnel it into this new area," Jacks explained. "The LINQ brings a new atmosphere to the Las Vegas Strip because usually where people would go into the resort and enjoy the excitement inside, the LINQ brings people outside."
It is anchored by The High Roller, one of the world's largest observation wheels standing at 550-feet, which takes 30 minutes per rotation and offers 360-degree views of Las Vegas and its surrounding scenery.
In addition, a new mega-resort, Resorts World, is also set to open in the next few years, a Genting Group project that will see a newly built, Asian-themed resort, complete with a Great Wall of China replica and a panda exhibit.
Jacks noted that downtown Las Vegas is also seeing great revitalization and a lot of rebirth, with plenty of attractions and activities to entertain Canadian visitors.
Vegas businesses represented at last night's event include:
A Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas
According to Sebastian Salas, travel agents need to recommend this product to clients when booking Las Vegas, otherwise, it's a missed opportunity. Commissions sit at 20 to 30 per cent, which means travel agents can do well offering a visit to A Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas for vow renewals, wedding ceremonies or the like.
In addition the new LINQ, Caesars is highlighting the new Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace, a boutique property by Chef Nobu. The Strip's first ever free-standing boutique hotel, The Cromwell, is also new to the company. In all, Caesars Entertainment has 10 resorts in Las Vegas.
Cirque du Soleil
Of course, Cirque du Soleil is a staple of the Las Vegas experience with eight shows now in residency there, including: O, Michael Jackson ONE, Mystère, The Beatles LOVE, Zumanity, Criss Angel Believe, Zarkana and KÀ.
Las Vegas Monorail
Going along the east side of the Strip, the Las Vegas Monorail makes seven stops located at MGM Grand, Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas, Flamingo/Caesars Palace, Harrah’s/The Quad/The Linq, Las Vegas Convention Center, Westgate Las Vegas and the SLS Las Vegas Station. Visitors can get from one end to the other in about 15 minutes. There is a possibility that it will also be extended to the airport, though plans are not imminent.
Maverick Aviation is the largest operator of the Eco Star aircraft in the world. The company, located on the Strip, offers tours to the Grand Canyon and the Southwest. Maverick Helicopters has the top safety record of any tourism-based aviation company in the world, according to Mynor Guerra, vice-president of leisure sales.
MGM Resorts International
With 13 properties in Las Vegas, the newest addition to MGM's portfolio there is Delano, which is home to a dayclub and LIGHT, the first-ever nightclub turned on by the minds behind Cirque du Soleil. In addition, the MGM Grand has undergone a $170 million renovation of its 5,000 rooms.
Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters
Offering a variety of trips to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Page/Lake Powell and Phoenix, Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters flies four to five thousand guests daily, with a fleet of 50-plus helicopters and more than 20 planes. They offer service in 16 languages.
South Point Hotel
Catering to families and seniors, the South Point Hotel offers 2,100+ guest rooms with plenty of activities including a 64-lane bowling alley, Equestrain Centre, movie theatre and more. Plus, shuttle service is avaiable to various points along the Strip.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Just opened in 2010, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is unique to Vegas in that 80 per cent of its 2,995 rooms offer terraces. It is vertically built which means easy access to rooms from the lobby, plus there is plenty of entertainment for guests including 16 dining facilities and Marqui Day Club.
The Venetian | The Palazzo
It's a little taste of Italy in Las Vegas at The Venetian & The Palazzo, where guests can take part in gondola rides, dine at one of the 40 restaurants or shop at any of the 160 retail outlets. This is also home to the Rock of Ages show and a Canyon Ranch Spa.
Wynn Las Vegas & Encore
Some of the amenities available at the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore include an on-site 18-hole, par 70 golf course, or take in Le Rêve. Poolside relaxation, retail therapy, and great dining are also part of the appeal.