GMID 2018 Las Vegas: Celebrating the Meetings Industry
On Thursday, April 12, meeting professionals around the world came together to celebrate our great industry. I was lucky enough to be in Las Vegas – the meetings capital of the world – for a media tour centered around Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID).
Some key facts about meetings and Las Vegas:
- Las Vegas offers more than 11 million square feet of convention space
- In 2017, nearly 6.7 million people attended conventions in Las Vegas
- Las Vegas hosts close to 22,000 meetings annually
- Las Vegas is home to 3 of the top 10 largest convention centers in North America
- Las Vegas has been the #1 trade show destination for the past 24 years
While there is naturally competition in the market, there is also a spirit of cooperation and a desire to give back to the community, which was evident at the citywide GMID event hosted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).
The theme for Las Vegas GMID was threefold – the impact of meetings on the local economy, the importance of innovation, and continuing to position the city as a leading business destination (hashtag #vegasmeansbusiness). In Las Vegas, meetings support approximately 85,000 local jobs and are therefore crucial to the economy.
Innovation in services and entertainment was a key topic at the event.
Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales for MGM Resorts International, focused on health and wellness, talking about the organization’s industry-first partnership with wellness real estate pioneer Delos. MGM Resorts offers StayWell technology in a segment of its meeting and guest rooms. Amenities include air purifiers, special lighting, Vitamin C infused showers in the sleeping rooms, aromatherapy, and more, all scientifically designed to nurture and promote human health and well-being.
Senior vice president of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Chandra Allison, talked about the importance of innovation, and creating new immersive spaces. Allison referenced four trends she is seeing in the meetings space:
- Festivalization: creating a place of community, celebration, and learning
- Food: the need for healthful, sustainable, organic, flavorful offerings that take allergies and restrictions into account
- Interactive experiences: memorable, participatory educational experiences
- Non-traditional spaces: changing from traditional ballrooms to venues like theaters, restaurants, retail spaces
Mamie Peers, vice president of digital marketing for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, spoke about the importance of experiences which are new, different, and provocative. Peers referenced The Cosmopolitan’s digital chatbot concierge, Rose, that enables hotel guests to ask questions and receive information via text – in a tone that matches the resort’s own personality.
Sustainability, giving back to the community, and helping those in need were also key themes.
Lisa Messina, vice president of sales for Caesars Entertainment, spoke about the importance of corporate social responsibility, diversity and equality, mentioning the Billie Jean King Initiative. Leftover soap and shampoo at Caesars is donated to the Clean the World. Through simple actions such as donation of leftover giveaways, event organizers and exhibitors can help Las Vegas teachers and schools via the Teacher Exchange program.
Green and solar energy initiatives were also covered. Wynn Las Vegas plans to power its multi-use development, Paradise Park, with 100 percent renewable energy sourced from a new 160-acre solar energy facility. In 2016, MGM Resorts set a record for having the largest rooftop array in the United States with its 26,000 solar panels that provide 25% of Mandalay Bay Resort’s power.
Opportunity Village is another local not-for-profit organization that the Las Vegas meetings industry helps support. Its programs offer training for intellectually disabled individuals designed to help them find professions that build on their passions and provide “pride, purpose, and a paycheck”.
Three Square Food Bank’s president and CEO, Brian Burton, talked about how the organization conducts daily food rescue, working with partners to deliver that food to those in need. MGM Resorts donates surplus (prepared but unserved) hot banquet food to Three Square, which is expected to provide 800,000 nutritious meals by 2020.
At the end of the event, attendees were invited to tour The Venetian Theatre stage. Pop-up banners, signs, and digital monitors proudly displayed some of the many Las Vegas meeting industry offerings, initiatives, and statistics.
Paul VanDeventer, president and CEO of Meeting Planners International (MPI), stated that “Vegas is a trendsetter.” If any bets are being taken on which city is best positioned to help bring the meetings industry forward, my money is on Las Vegas.