Royal blush: Risque Vegas ads turning off some clients

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Art PfenningWhat happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. Weve seen the ads, which must be working since the city is bustling with growth. But what do travel agents think about the destination? Travel Weekly polled some 1,200 readers to find out.

Agents said Mexico (55%), Orlando (51%), and Hawaii (45%) are more popular destinations than Las Vegas among clients.

They said Las Vegas biggest drawbacks are the perceptions that it is an inappropriate family destination (56%) or a gambling-only destination (52%).

One agent said, It is a destination that is important to a certain segment of our clients. We are having trouble selling it as a family vacation, especially with all the television programs that entice the gambling.

My clients impressions of Las Vegas have decreased since the commercials for Las Vegas have become more sleazy, said another agent. For example, the wake-up call commercial, where the guy does not know where he is spending the night, implies one-night stands. When I suggest Vegas, I have at times been shot down because of these commercials with the response that Vegas is too sleazy and approaching Hedonism.

Sixty-three percent said Vegas bookings in 2004 are tracking the same as in 2003; 60% said they expect them to remain the same in 2005. The best booking opportunity for Vegas is as a gambling vacation (77%). Romance/weddings/honeymoons (50%) also presents an opportunity.

Not long ago, marketers abandoned the family-vacation positioning in favor of a naughtier image. So will Vegas gamble pay off? Business appears to be good, but for how long is hard to tell.

One agent said Las Vegas has become too pricey.

This destination used to be viewed as a value vacation  with good hotels; inexpensive, great food; and a variety of entertainment, the agent said.

We now see the difference in hotel prices, and its no longer the deal it once was. People are getting sticker shock when we price Las Vegas, and they decide that for a little more they can do an all-inclusive in Cancun or take a three-day cruise.

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