LAS VEGAS -- As a longtime sales executive with the Las Vegas
Convention and Visitors Authority, Cam Usher worked closely with
the travel agent community.
As the LVCVA's ASTA
liaison, Usher was deemed instrumental in helping the city land the
job of hosting next year's ASTA World Congress, and late last year
she received ASTA's Allied Member Award.
Now, Usher will have the opportunity to interact even more
closely with agents in her capacity as the LVCVA's director of
As Usher sees it (the LVCVA has not had a tourism director in 11
years), her new job involves administration of the organization's
tourism division and marketing Las Vegas and its surroundings --
such as Laughlin, Primm and Mesquite -- to agents and consumers
"I want to increase the visibility of Las Vegas in the travel
industry and make sure that Las Vegas is accessible and easily
bookable -- that it's an easy sell for travel agents," Usher
Noting that agents book 40% of the city's tourist business,
Usher emphasized the importance of retailers. "I want to maintain
and increase [the LVCVA's] relationships with travel agents," she
Also in her new position, Usher said, she wanted to evaluate
existing tourism programs "to ascertain whether they are still
working. "You know, you have a tendency to get in a rut sometimes,"
Usher also will be exploring new industry events and trade
shows, both for the travel trade and for consumers, in which the
LVCVA is considering involvement. "We want to get the biggest bang
for our buck," she said. "If we participate in an event, we want to
be sure that we are [reaching] the maximum number of people [that
we can]. We'll look at [participating in] events that will attract
greater numbers of attendees."
Regarding the challenges that lay ahead of her as the director
of tourism, Usher said the issue of air access to Las Vegas "is a
concern." "We have a person on staff, a transportation
administrator, whose responsibility it is to visit with the
airlines and sell them on the idea of increasing airlift," she
The LVCVA and McCarran Airport officials regularly meet with
airlines to discuss airlift.
In addition, she said, one element of the LVCVA's three-year
strategic marketing plan includes visiting each of the city's top
50 airline markets.
"That includes some cities that we don't get to regularly," she
said. "Omaha [Neb.], is one good example. We'll make a visit there
sometime within the next three years."
Piquing the interest of international travelers to visit Las
Vegas and then maintaining that interest also will be a challenge,
According to LVCVA statistics, she said, the No. 1 reason for
international visitors to come to Las Vegas is no longer gaming but
other activities such as shopping and dining.
And although there has been controversy about the 20,000 new
hotel rooms that are expected to be available by the turn of the
century, Usher said she believes the demand for those rooms
"On weekends and weekdays, there are not enough rooms to go
around," she said. "Major hotels routinely refuse hundreds of
requests for rooms every day. I'm not saying [the large number of
new hotel rooms] is not a problem, but the market is definitely
there. The hotels are appealing to a different customer [than in
the past] in terms of the Bellagios and the Venetians. It's not
that those markets were not there before, but no one was
specifically identifying them."