Monday, February 28, 2005

Planet Travel's Low Roller Trip To Las Vegas

Are you planning a trip to Las Vegas soon. Although it is still in the planning stage, we have penciled in May 22, 2005 to May 25, 2005 for this springs annual "Planet Travel's Low Roller Trip To Las Vegas" With prices starting at just $269.00 per person plus tax for hotel and air this is too good of a deal to pass on for a destination that is getting pricier. More details in a week.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Avoid Sundays

While pricing a May 5 weekend Las Vegas trip for a client today, I recommended a Friday- Monday return, rather than returning Sunday. Why? The pricing for the three night weekend air and hotel trip was less returning on Monday then on Sunday. The difference being the airfare for the Monday return was more than $100.00 less then returning on Sunday. You can save money by being flexible. Sunday is by far the busiest flying day out of Las Vegas. Security check point lines are the longest on Sunday. Flights are most crowded on Sunday. Delays occur more frequently on Sunday. Sunday night in Las Vegas is our favorite times to walk the strip. Crowds have disappeared. Catch a front row seat to view the fountains at the Bellagio. The city seems to catch its breath. Restaurants that you couldn't get a reservation for on Saturday night welcome you. Shows that are impossible to find seats Saturday, have availability. Really.

Insider Tip: When is it best to fly if you want to save? As a rule avoid all three day holiday weekends. Fares are generally less flying Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Picking one of these days will reduce the cost of your trip. Do you have to fly on a Monday or a Sunday. Choose the earliest or latest flight times to catch the few remaining bargain seats.

Monday, February 21, 2005

60 Minutes weighs in on the new Las Vegas Visitor

Mid way through Lesley Stahl's report about the Cirque Du Soliel entertainment juggernaut (Not quite yet... at least the MGM Grand properties including the MGM Grand feature Cirque Du Soliel shows) taking over the Las Vegas strip, I was struck by the description of the new Las Vegas visitor.

"The profile of the “typical” Las Vegas visitor has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. Retirees from Middle America, who play the nickel slots, don’t come to Vegas anymore. With Native-American and riverboat casinos popping up across America, they can find slot machines closer to home.

Today’s Las Vegas visitors are wealthier, younger, more international – and far more sophisticated. "

Bobby Baldwin an executive with MGM Grand is interviewed for the story and adds his perspective about why Cirque Du Soliel is so popular with the new Las Vegas Visitor.

"Casino owners in Las Vegas used to practically give away show tickets, hotel rooms, and food, just to lure people to the slots and the tables. But that strategy doesn’t work with the new breed of visitor.

"They're very finicky as to what they eat, where they sleep and what kind of shows they go to see. And before they didn't care," says Baldwin. "They just wanted to play blackjack or shoot dice and get out of town."

But they didn’t have shows like "O", with all of its “how’d they do that” numbers. There’s 1.5 million gallons of water on that stage, and all of the costumes have to be replaced every couple of months because the chlorine eats away at the Lycra.

"I think people plan their trips, particularly vacations, with the idea that "O" or one of the other Cirque du Soleil shows will be on the itinerary," says Baldwin.

And that has turned the entire economic equation of Las Vegas on its head.

"I make just as much money off of you as a company, whether you gamble or you don’t gamble, because most of our revenues are non-gambling," says Baldwin. "In the Bellagio hotel, 60 percent are non-gambling, and 40 percent are gambling."

He adds that "we make money off of everything," which includes shows, restaurants and the incredible shops. "

As I write this post, I am watching the A & E show Ceasars 24-7. The show features gambling, crazy guests that want a new bed because the one in their room is too high, behind the scenes stories from various staff members and the high rolling whales that all the strip casinos covet. But gambling remains the centerpiece of the show. This perspective is much different from MGM Grand's philosophy. No mention of the new breed of guest. So maybe 60 Minutes overstated their case.

So I guess the message is if you are heading to gamble in Las Vegas avoid the MGM Grand properties and head for one more open to the old breed of gamblers.

Insider Tip: The best places to gamble in Las Vegas are not found on the strip. Follow the locals to the outskirts casinos that cater to them to find the best odds, the best food values, and venues more friendly to the low roller gamblers.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Las Vegas Sticker Shock

The popularity of Las Vegas continues to grow. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCA) just announced record breaking visitation and hotel occupancy levels for 2004. LVCA predicts even greater occupancy for 2005. Visitors have returned to Las Vegas at a level preceding September 11th prior record breaking pace. And with good reason. Today Las Vegas offers more than gambling and cheap buffets. It really is the ideal three day getaway destination. You can travel the world in a just a few blocks. The Danny Ocean character in the movie Oceans Eleven described it best, "Las Vegas, America's playground."

With the record return of visitors, 95 percent of the strip hotel rooms are occupied during the weekend now, get ready for room rate sticker shock. We have already written briefly about the increase in weekend fly/hotel vacation packages prices to Las Vegas. And we believe the trend will continue. The average price of nightly hotel room during the weekend will rise to average rate of $200.00 this year for some of the more popular new mega strip resorts.

However, there are still ways to avoid Las Vegas sticker shock. In the next few weeks we publish some of the ways we have found to spend less getting and staying in Las Vegas. Stay tuned.

Insider Tip: Room rates rise dramatically in Las Vegas on Friday and Saturday nights. Avoid the strip during the weekends and you can sometimes cut your costs by more than a half. If you plan on visiting the strip during the weekend, head north. The northern strip hotels offer the most affordable rates during the weekend. The new strip monorail now makes the travel up and down the strip in minutes nullifying the disadvantage of staying on the northern end.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

More and more our clients have opted for an "all inclusive vacation." When you think about it an "all inclusive" really makes sense for a short getaway-long weekend. For one price you can purchase round trip airfare, transfer to the resort, your room, all drinks, activities, meals and activities. With some five star resorts pricing at $600.00 per person including taxes for a three day weekend in Cancun in April, an "all inclusive" really is a remarkable value. In contrast some Las Vegas weekends now price at a minimum $400.00 per person for round trip air and north end strip hotel only. Meals and activities are extra. It is easy to see why many of our clients are opting in for the "all-inclusive" getaway.

Insider tip: Because of the increased popularity of the "all-inclusive" vacation it pays to book early. Most charter flights are already sold out in March. Booking 90 days ahead of time will save you money.

Stranded in a hell hole motel update

My American Airlines stranded in the Bahamas client called this afternoon with a graphic tale of the motel she stayed at courtesy of the airline. Imagine the cock roaches so bad you had to sleep with the light on in order for you to avoid being attacked in bed by the creatures. Smells so bad that it made her instantly nauseous. Sheets that haven't been laundered since last year. You may have an idea of this motel from hell American Airlines arranged for her stay last Friday night because mechanical problems delayed two flights, causing her to miss the ship's departure. She had managed to talk to supervisor of customer service at Carnival cruises today. He promised a quick response from the cruise line. We will keep you posted.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Just another day in paradise

It is not even 8:00 a.m. and the telephone is ringing. A client is very upset. His spouse and her girlfriend not only missed their Carnival cruise ship departure because of not one but two airplane mechanical problems. The overnight accommodations provided by American Airlines turned out to be a dirty cock roach infested motel. The promised transportation between the hotel and ship never appeared. American is blaming Carnival for the problem and Carnival is blaming American. I am on hold with Carnival for more than hour with still no remedy in sight. My point to Carnival is simple. If American is doing to this my clients, they are also doing it to other Carnival clients. We have to make amends. Carnival finally agrees to look into it. Now my client won't answer her telephone, so I can't check in with them.

Insider tip about cruising. That ship leaves without you. Never book airfare the day of the ship's departure. Always fly in the day before.