Las Vegas has perfected the art of private travel experiences—here’s how you can tap into this timely trend for almost any client.
Exclusivity, privacy, special access: You’ve probably heard these terms countless times in recent years as exclusive experiences became one of the travel industry’s top trends. Now, private and small-group experiences are likely to become more important and relevant than ever before—especially when it comes to Las Vegas, where the possibilities for customization are nearly endless. Providing the right options for your clients will greatly enhance not just their trips, but your overall business relationships and bottom line.
There’s no doubt that unique experiences—particularly ones not available to everyone—are increasingly important to travelers. According to the Trekk Soft Travel Trends Report 2019, the number-one trend for the year was requests for “unique experiences from travelers who want to do something that is once-in-a-lifetime.” Similarly, Viator’s 2020 Traveler Trends report points out that “travelers want smaller-group, more intimate experiences over traditional cookie-cutter ones.” What’s more, these are the areas where travelers are likely to splurge; Virtuoso’s 2020 Luxe Report notes that travelers are “powered by the belief that customized experiences are the best investment of their money and time.”
Now, with COVID-19 safety and social distancing concerns likely to affect travel decisions for some time, private experiences are expected to become a top priority for more travelers than ever before. Fortunately for advisors, Las Vegas is a market rich with such opportunities, catering to just about every interest, budget and customizable option under the sun.
“With COVID, private experiences are so important right now and being asked for more, because of safety and health concerns,” says Abby Lagman, founder of Blissful Travel Company in Henderson, Nevada. “But even pre-COVID, and whenever things get back to normal, people come to Vegas for a certain experience. They want to do Vegas with a bang, they want to feel like a VIP—and Vegas is a city that can make everyone feel like a VIP. That exclusivity is priceless.”
A City Made for Exclusive Access
While private travel experiences exist everywhere, there’s no place that offers them quite like Las Vegas does.
“Las Vegas was built on private experiences,” explains Patrick Nichols, General Manager & Chief Strategy Officer of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. “Anything you can imagine, Vegas has to offer. It’s built around excess and luxury—people come here to let loose, and the experiences all around are tailored to that.”
On The Strip alone, options run the gamut from private dining to food tours, personalized shopping, art tours, custom sightseeing, pool cabana rentals, behind-the-scenes show experiences, private tables and special access at nightclubs, and much more.
“Vegas has so many amazing restaurants,” says Lagman. “There’s a company that does amazing food tours, where you can visit up to four restaurants in one night and have VIP service at each one.”
Robert Merlin, a travel consultant with SmartFlyer who is based in St. Louis, Missouri, finds that private experiences are a great way to help clients escape Vegas’ crowds, a selling point of particular relevance for the foreseeable future.
“I think the coronavirus situation will inspire more private or small-group experiences to make more common experiences safer and more exclusive,” Merlin explains. Among the private opportunities he has arranged for clients are meals in special venues, up-close viewings of the Bellagio fountains and a guided shopping tour.
Off The Strip, the list of opportunities grows even wider.
“People are realizing that Las Vegas is right in the middle of so many national parks,” says Lagman. “We’re so close to the Grand Canyon, to Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Zion—there are so many national parks you can go to from here, even on a daytrip.”
Advisors can recommend private tours and activities such as a hot air balloon ride over Red Rock Canyon, a snow day on Mount Charleston or a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.
“Going to the Grand Canyon by helicopter is really cool and easy to customize,” says Paul Tumpowsky, CEO of Skylark in New York, New York. “We’ve even had a group of three helicopters go down into the canyon together, where they had set up an amazing catering operation. Then they customized the route back by flying over a golf course the clients were going to play at the next day.”
And if your clients want something they can really only do in Las Vegas? Some of the options are nearly unbelievable, from machine gun shooting ranges to driving racecars on a speedway.
“I really love taking over SpeedVegas,” says Tumpowsky. “Everyone can go, but the idea of having the entire track to yourself and your friends is a dream. People can get instruction and really focus on driving, or if someone wants to just drive the most exotic car and then have cocktails, they can do that too. It’s totally customizable and very close to The Strip, and 100 percent of the clients we send come back raving about it.”
“There are some really out-there experiences that are basically only available in Vegas, like flying a stunt plane with an instructor,” adds Lagman. “There’s a draw here for people looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
Tips for Selling Private Experiences
Many of the benefits of private experiences speak for themselves, such as enhanced privacy and greater customization. But there are many more selling points of these travel opportunities that advisors can share with their clients. Here are a few tips for positioning private experiences to Vegas-bound travelers.
- Demonstrate the Experience’s Value: Does your client want more flexibility than a standard tour offers? How about one-on-one attention? Are they looking to do something truly unique or gain exclusive access? Private experiences can add value in all these ways and many more.
“When we think about travel and value, usually the first thing you think is ‘Am I getting a good deal?’ ” says Nichols. “But Las Vegas is probably one of the few destinations in the world where that’s not necessarily the goal. It’s more like ‘Am I getting an experience that I can’t get anywhere else?’ ”
“What we’ve seen in Vegas is that if the provider can add luxury service or personal, private touches, it goes a long way in terms of creating value for the client,” says Tumpowsky.
- Make the Trip Special: Many travelers are looking to take their Las Vegas trip to the next level, and private experiences help create unique and memorable moments.
“A lot of clients who come to Vegas are celebrating something: bachelor or bachelorette parties, proposals, anniversaries, weddings,” says Lagman. “They want something special to remember that trip by and would prefer a private experience. For some people, this is the only time they’re ever going to be in Las Vegas, it’s a bucket-list trip for them, and they’re willing to go private so they can get the full-on experience.”
Nichols also points out that after a challenging 2020, clients are likely to be prepared to go big on their next getaway: “In 2020, many travelers unfortunately may have had a vacation canceled or delayed. So for their next trip, which will probably be their first vacation in a while, they’re looking for something special and memorable, and private experiences tick that box.”
- Stay Informed and Connected: Las Vegas is constantly evolving, so it’s crucial to stay up to date on the latest offerings, be it through ongoing research and education or by way of local contacts.
“It’s up to the advisor to know more than what’s on a piece of paper or the web,” explains Tumpowsky. “I feel confident that as a client travels with us, we personally aren’t always the expert but we’re in touch with people all the time who know what’s cutting edge. That’s going to be more important than ever, because as we come out of this crisis, having really up-to-date information is critical.”
The ability to offer travelers experiences they wouldn’t know about or couldn’t get on their own also helps enhance the agent-client relationship, build repeat business and demonstrate the overall value of working with an advisor. “We have access to a lot of people and opportunities that you could not get on your own,” Merlin says. “If I call my contact and say, ‘This what I need,’ I know it will get done. It helps people understand that there is a benefit to working with me beyond what they can do for themselves.”
- Always Make the Offer: One of the benefits of Las Vegas is that experiences exist at all price points and cater to everyone from couples to families, luxury travelers, groups of friends and more. That means there’s a potential private or small-group experience for just about every client—and you can’t always predict who will unexpectedly say yes.
“I think you can sell private experiences to just about everyone,” says Lagman. “Give them the option. Show them the difference between what a private tour or a group tour would be and explain the benefits and value for it. Get them excited and in the mindset of doing something really cool they might not be able to do anywhere else.”
“Because private experiences can be pricey, advisors may get nervous about approaching clients,” adds Merlin. “But the number of times I’ve had someone want to do something when I really didn’t think they would is high. So never be afraid to approach a client with a private experience if you’ve vetted it and believe it’s something they would be interested in. If they say no, you have that resource for another time.”