1 Volume I Issue V
2 Page 1 Applied Analysis was retained by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (the LVCVA ) to review and analyze the economic impacts associated with its various operations and southern Nevada s tourism industry more generally. This is the fifth in a series of reports detailing the findings of our review and analysis; it is specific to measures of effectiveness and the return-on-investment of the LVCVA s operations and its advertising campaigns. FINDINGS IN SUMMARY This analysis is concerned with dollars spent by the LVCVA (costs) and their relative return to the community in terms of incremental economic activity (benefits). During FY 2008, the LVCVA spent $288 million operating its convention and meeting facilities and promoting southern Nevada. In that same year, 37.4 million Las Vegas visitors spent approximately $25.4 billion in the market, a value that increases to $39.0 billion when the secondary impacts of visitor spending on other industries are considered. Stated otherwise, the LVCVA s total budget accounts for roughly 1.1 percent of the region s tourism economy and 0.7 percent of all economic activity directly or indirectly attributable to southern Nevada s hospitality industry. To put these numbers into perspective, the LVCVA has an effective breakeven point of 277,000 visitors, only marginally higher than the 251,000 visitors required to fill the region s 141,000 hotel rooms for a single night assuming a stabilized 85-percent occupancy rate and 2.1 people per hotel room. There is compelling evidence that the LVCVA s impacts well exceed this theoretical breakeven point. That said, even though convention and meeting travelers account for a significant share of overall visitor volume and more than 76 percent of visitors report having been reached by the LVCVA advertising campaign, it would be an overstatement to suggest that all, or even the majority, of southern Nevada s visitors are attributable to the LVCVA s efforts. Determining the proximate cause of visitors travel decisions is neither simple nor straightforward. Not only is measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns notoriously challenging, but the uniqueness and complexity of southern Nevada s tourism industry makes even market-to-market comparisons tenuous. These limitations notwithstanding, there is certainly sufficient information available to draw meaningful conclusions relative to the LVCVA s return on investment. During FY 2008, the LVCVA spent $288 million and generated an estimated $2.8 billion in local economic activity. This translates into a benefit-cost ratio, or return-on-investment ratio, of $10 to $1. When the ripple effects on other sectors of the economy are considered, this ratio increases to $15 to $1. The LVCVA s 11.2-percent share of tourism-related economic activity is directly attributable to visitors attending meeting and shows at the Las
3 Page 2 Vegas Convention Center, LVCVA funded special events, international travel attributed to the LVCVA s satellite offices, the organization s wholesaler programs, and confirmed leads that created hotel room bookings. The LVCVA s advertising campaigns, reporting a cost of $88.1 million in FY 2008, were estimated to generate $1.5 billion of incremental consumer spending in southern Nevada, a $17 to $1 return on investment. Including the secondary effects throughout the broader economy, this return-oninvestment ratio increases to $26 to $1. This analysis assumes that 5.8 percent of visitation is attributable to the LVCVA s marketing campaigns, a factor consistent with the experience reported in other destination markets and one generally comparable to estimates used in similar impact analyses. 1 The factors quantified in this analysis are compelling, but it is important to understand what is not included. There is no readily available way to determine the extent of the overlap between the LVCVA s direct activities and the reach of its advertising campaigns (e.g., the extent to which a person attending a meeting at the Las Vegas Convention Center is more likely to do so because of the LVCVA s out-of-market advertising). This analysis conservatively assumes that there is no overlap, respecting that a great many visitors that come to Las Vegas after being exposed to the LVCVA s ads have no direct interaction with the LVCVA. Additionally, this analysis focuses on impacts that can be measured, as well as on comparative analyses. Those impacts that are not immediately quantifiable, such as the inherent value in the Las Vegas brand; the effectiveness of selected media campaigns; or the ability to broaden the visitor base built on cooperative synergies between the industry, the community and the LVCVA, add incremental value that is not included in the previous figures. THE DIRECT IMPACT OF THE LVCVA The LVCVA provides a number of specific services, many of which can be monitored and used to quantify the organization s relative effectiveness in fulfilling its primary mission filling southern Nevada s hotel rooms. The major categories are described below. Note that FY 2007 figures were analyzed, as this is the latest period for which complete data is available. Steps were also taken to address the potential for double counting between 1 See, e.g., Public Tourism Promotion ROI: Cutting the Promotional Budget is Tempting; Is It Worth It? Prepared by IHS Global Insight & D.K. Shifflet & Associates, Ltd., February (Noting that destination advertising experts often point to the real-life example of Colorado. During the period 1993 to 1997, Colorado stopped all destination travel promotion efforts; leisure visitors declined by 7.7 percent. Though other states may have seen some decline in visitation during the same period, Colorado s decline was reportedly at least twice that of other states.)
4 Page 3 the various categories. A ratio-based analysis was used to make similar estimates for FY Conventions held at the Las Vegas Convention Center resulted in 3.4 million room nights in FY 2007, representing 7.7 percent of the 43.8 million total room nights occupied during that year. 3 Confirmed leads, which are defined as leads provided by the LVCVA that translated into confirmed room night bookings at Las Vegas hotels and casino-hotels, totaled 603,000 during the same period. This accounts for 1.3 percent of the 43.8 million total room nights occupied during the year. 4 Special events funded by the LVCVA contributed 465,000 incremental room nights during FY 2007, just under 1 percent of the total room nights occupied. 5 Direct bookings derived from click-thrus sourced to the LVCVA web sites generated 164,500 room nights during FY International visitors contributed an estimated 8.1 million room nights during FY The LVCVA has 12 international offices representing 75 countries that work directly with local travel agents in these regions, facilitating bookings to Las Vegas. AA conservatively attributed between 10 percent and 15 percent of international visitors to the LVCVA international efforts. This equates to between 810,000 and 1.2 million room nights. 7 2 Note that in applying the ratios to FY 2008 the impact estimates were made more conservative as visitor volume was down and total expenditures increased. The factors impacting the downturn in visitor volume are many and are not fully explored here. 3 LVCVA Customer Relationship Management (CRM) computerized system tracks number of attendees at events held at the Las Vegas Convention Center based on attendance counts submitted by meeting planners. 4 LVCVA Customer Relationship Management (CRM) computerized system tracks events for all LVCVA-produced leads. Event name, begin and end date, attendance, and date confirmed are all tracked in the system. Queries can be run according to fields and dates desired. 5 Certain special events are held that are funded by the LVCVA (e.g. Las Vegas Bowl, sporting events, concerts); the LVCVA conducts surveys of these events in order to estimate total and incremental room night impact. 6 LVCVA sales representatives communications with hotels that are linked to the LVCVA referral site indicate that 2 to 15 percent of referrals convert to bookings. In this analysis, an estimated conversion rate of 5 percent is utilized. 7 International visitors to Las Vegas are estimated with in-flight surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Baseline, moderate, and less conservative scenarios attribute varying percentages of these visitors to LVCVA efforts.
5 Page 4 Leisure wholesaler packages, for which the LVCVA typically funds 50 percent of the program cost, resulted in 833,500 room nights during FY Half of that amount, or 416,000 room nights, are attributed to the LVCVA. 8 Other smaller program contributions such as the LVCVA s travel agent familiarization programs, convention housing and call center bookings, combine to account for an additional 63,700 room nights annually. 9 Exhibit I, below, summarizes these program impacts and estimates that approximately 14.0 percent of all room nights occupied are directly attributable to LVCVA operations. Exhibit I Analysis and Allocation of Room Nights Occupied Total Room Nights Occupied 43,752, % Room Nights Attributable to the LVCVA LVCC Conventions 602, % Confirmed Leads 3,383, % LVCVA Funded Special Events 464, % Facilitated International Visitation 1,012, % LVCVA Web Site Referrals 164, % Leisure Sales Wholesaler Program 416, % Other LVCVA Programs 63, % Total Room Nights Occupied Attributable to the LVCVA 6,107, % After calculating room nights attributable to LVCVA efforts, an analysis may be performed to show occupancy without the LVCVA s efforts. Exhibit II, provided on the following page, suggests that the LVCVA contributes 12.6 percentage points to the region s occupancy rate. This is not to suggest that if the LVCVA ceased to exist, occupancy would drop to these levels immediately, but rather is intended to illustrate the impact of those LVCVA efforts that can be reasonably quantified. Additionally, the drop in occupancy shown below is perhaps understated, as this analysis does not attempt to quantify the effectiveness of the advertising and other marketing efforts. 8 Leisure wholesaler programs tracked by the LVCVA are typically 50 percent funded by the LVCVA (and 50 percent by the wholesaler). This estimate is arguably conservative as these programs would be unlikely to take place but for the efforts of the LVCVA. 9The LVCVA tracks clients that it sponsors for familiarization trips (FAMS). Room nights shown are directly paid for by the LVCVA. The incremental amount of business generated by these clients as a result of these trips is not credited to the LVCVA in this analysis; convention housing is also tracked in the CRM system and reflects room nights resulting from room blocks managed by the housing bureau run by the LVCVA. Similarly, the LVCVA tracks room nights reserved via the LVCVA Call Center.
6 Page 5 Exhibit II Impact of LVCVA Activities on Hotel Occupancy Rates Total Room Nights Available 10 48,560,000 Actual Room Nights Occupied 11 43,752,160 Actual Annual Occupancy % Room Nights Attributable to LVCVA 6,107,900 Percent of Room Nights Attributable to LVCVA 14.0% Occupancy (Less LVCVA-Attributable Room Nights) 77.5% Difference in Occupancy Rate without vs. with LVCVA 12.6% As outlined above, the LVCVA directly accounts for approximately 14 percent of all occupied room nights. Estimating return on investment requires that these values be converted to visitors, and then visitor spending, as a basis for estimating the gross benefit attributable to visitation. Additionally, the limiting assumption has been made that 20 percent of the visitors directly assisted by the LVCVA would have traveled to the destination anyway, finding other means of facilitation. This reduces the attributable visitor total from 14.0 percent to 11.2 percent. Total visitor volume in 2008 was 37.5 million; 11.2 percent of this figure is 4.2 million travelers. Exhibit III, on the following page, provides a summary of the economic impact assumptions applied on an aggregate and per visitor basis. It suggests that each visitor spends approximately $680 per trip, an economic contribution that increases to $1,040 when the indirect and induced impacts of that spending are considered. Applying these spending levels to the total number of trips generates a direct benefit of $2.8 billion and a total benefit (including secondary impacts) of $4.4 billion. 10 Source: 2006 and 2007 Year-end Summaries of LVCVA Visitor Statistics, see reports at 11 Id. 12 Id.
7 Page 6 Exhibit III Economic Impact Assumptions, Total Visitor Spending (Direct Spending) Average Spending Per Visitor Per Trip (Direct Spending) Economic Activity Attributable to Visitor Spending (Direct + Indirect) Average Economic Impact Per Visitor Per Trip (Direct + Indirect) Estimated Employment Impacts (Direct + Indirect) Estimated Wage and Salary Impacts (Direct + Indirect) $ 25.4 billion $ 677 $ 39.0 billion $ 1, ,459 $ 11.9 billion Benefits being only one-half the benefit-cost equation, these total visitor spending benefits must be compared against the costs incurred by the LVCVA. During FY 2008, the LVCVA reported a total budget of $288 million. The sources and uses of this budget are outlined in Exhibit IV, below. Exhibit IV LVCVA Budget Summary, FY Sources Room Tax and Gaming Revenue $ 221,744, % Interest and Investment Earnings $ 6,599, % Other General Revenue $ (7,320) 0.0% Use of Facilities $ 55,781, % Marketing $ 3,485, % Total Sources $ 287,603, % Uses General Government $ 9,772, % Marketing $ 34,616, % Advertising $ 88,074, % Operations $ 58,248, % Grants and Special Events $ 38,556, % Interest and Other $ 14,317, % Transfers Out $ 44,017, % Total Uses $ 287,603, % Again, the LVCVA s budget represents the community investment in the tourism industry (i.e., costs); the economic impacts sourced to the LVCVA represent the return on that investment (i.e., benefits). As outlined below, 13 Please see Economic Impact Series 1.1, Impact of Operations for an overview of how the economic impact assumptions are calculated. Note that while the methodology is similar, the analysis has been updated to reflect the most current spending estimates reported in the LVCVA s Las Vegas Visitor Profile, See, LVCVA 2009 Budget at
8 Page 7 this impact is valued at approximately $10 to $1 including only the direct impacts and $15 to $1 when the direct and indirect impacts of visitor spending are considered. Also included in Exhibit V is the effective breakeven point for the LVCVA. Breakeven occurs when total visitor spending equals total LVCVA spending, and occurs between 0.74 percent and 1.13 percent of visitation. Exhibit V LVCVA Operation Direct Return-on-Investment 15 All Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Operations Direct + Indirect Direct Only Total Benefit $ 4,362,613,274 $ 2,842,677,874 Total Cost $ 287,603,068 $ 287,603,068.0 Return-on-Investment Ratio +$15.17 to $1 +$9.88 to $1 Break-Even Visitation 276, ,719 Break-Even as a % of Total 0.74% 1.13% LVCVA ADVERTISING PROGRAMS RETURN ON INVESTMENT The LVCVA s primary function is to promote tourism in southern Nevada and to fill hotel rooms. Advertising campaigns are a key element of this function. Las Vegas ad awareness data tracked from 2002 to 2008, which surveyed respondents in Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago and Philadelphia (and New York City beginning in May 2004), indicates that overall awareness of advertising has hovered consistently around 77 percent. The share of respondents that perceive Las Vegas more favorably as a result of advertising has fluctuated around 22 percent. Those perceiving Las Vegas less favorably has fluctuated around 3.4 percent since 2004, after increasing from around 1 percent to 3 percent from 2002 to Beyond these measures of awareness, there is little dispute that the LVCVA s ad campaigns have been effective. This includes, but is not limited to, the award-winning what happens here stays here campaign and countless earned media value sourced to edgy, compelling and focused marketing efforts. These campaigns have struck a chord with key demographics; made Las Vegas among the most recognizable brands in the world, and helped to facilitate the remarkable growth reported during the better part of the past two decades. The LVCVA accounted for 21.2 percent of the $415 million spent on advertising by the industry, or $88.1 million in FY 2008 and it accounted for a significantly larger share of outof-market advertising. Although every sign points to the success of the LVCVA s media-based destination marketing efforts, measuring the success of advertising 15 See, LVCVA 2009 Budget at
9 Page 8 campaigns is no trivial pursuit. There are limited empirical analyses, case studies, or benchmarks that can be applied particularly as it relates to destination marketing. 16 That said, what is available does provide some meaningful insights. The Colorado experience is a common case study. During the period 1993 to 1997, Colorado stopped all destination travel promotion efforts; leisure visitors declined by 7.7 percent. 17 Though other states also reported declines in visitation during the same period, Colorado s decline was said to be at least twice that of any other. In 2009, an econometric analysis entitled Measuring the Return from Australian Tourism Marketing Expenditure was published in the Journal of Travel Research. The results were significant, noting a benefit-to-cost ratio range from 3-to-1 for the United Kingdom to 36- to-1 for New Zealand. The United States, as an origin market, reported an advertising return on investment of 7-to San Diego retained DK Shifflet & Associates, Ltd. to do a year-long study to determine the return on advertising and marketing expenditures. Results of this analysis indicated that for every $1 spent on marketing, San Diego generated $54 in return. In spot markets, they noted an increase in the return-on-investment ratio to $77 to $1. 19 In its presentation before the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, DK Shifflet & Associates also indicated increased effectiveness for destination market advertising. Where generally 24 percent of the population was aware of a message; 2 percent were influenced; and 1 percent inquired, among travelers 62 percent were aware of the message, 34 percent indicated they were influenced and 11 percent inquired. 20 A study by Podtrac analyzed advertising in podcasts and online television and found there was a 73 percent average increase in likelihood to use/buy versus a control group. The product category 16 See, A. G. Woodside, Measuring Advertising Effectiveness in Destination Marketing Strategies, The Journal of Travel Research. Fall 1990; see also, Public Tourism Promotion ROI: Cutting the Promotional Budget is Tempting; Is It Worth It? Prepared by IHS Global Insight & D.K. Shifflet & Associates, Ltd., February See, Public Tourism Promotion ROI: Cutting the Promotional Budget is Tempting; Is It Worth It? Prepared by IHS Global Insight & D.K. Shifflet & Associates, Ltd., February Kulendram and Dwyer, Measuring the Return from Australian Tourism Marketing Expenditure, Journal of Travel Research. February D.K. Shifflet & Associates Ltd, Successful Performance Measures, How Can We Achieve Them?, Presentation at International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus Id.
10 Page 9 of destination marketing was not included; however, the analysis showed embedded advertising in online shows and podcasts to be effective for increasing brand awareness, usage intent and positively impacting brand perceptions across multiple product categories. 21 Guideline's "Beyond Booking: Building Brand Equity Online in the Travel and Leisure Market" report indicates that 18 percent of consumers researching travel are most influenced during travel planning by travel promotion (e.g., direct mail, , or television). 22 What these and other analyses tend to indicate is: (i) that destination marketing efforts tend to be effective and (ii) halting destination marketing efforts would be expected to have negative impacts on visitation and inmarket spending. For purposes of this analysis we have applied an impact range of 3.9 percent to 7.7 percent, with a mid-point of 5.8 percent. Notably, with a total LVCVA advertising cost of $88 million annually and an average spend per visitor conservatively estimated at $677 per trip, advertising expenditures effectively breakeven at 0.35 percent of visitation. Stated otherwise, if approximately 0.35 percent, or 131,250, of visitors came to Las Vegas because of the LVCVA s advertising efforts, their combined spending in Las Vegas equaled the LVCVA s total advertising budget. With 76.4 percent of visitors citing awareness of the LVCVA s ad campaigns and 18.6 percent of those individuals noting that those ads positively impacted their perceptions of the Las Vegas market during 2008, combined with the experience reported in other destination markets, it seems reasonable that this threshold is well passed. Applying the mid-point estimate of potential impact (i.e., 5.8 percent of visitation), the direct return on investment associated with advertising expenditures is $17 to $1. When indirect and induced impacts are included in the analysis, this ratio increases to $26 to $1. Exhibit VI, on the following page, summarizes this analysis
11 Page 10 Exhibit VI LVCVA Operation Direct Return-on-Investment All Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Advertising Campaigns Direct + Indirect Direct Only Total Benefit $2,259,210,446 $1,472,101,042 Total Cost $88,074,185 $88,074,185 Return-on-Investment Ratio +$25.65 to $1 +$16.71 to $1 Break-Even Visitation 84, ,250 Break-Even as a % of Total 0.23% 0.35% METHODOLOGY Financial information pertaining to the LVCVA was obtained from the LVCVA 2009 Budget. 23 Visitor profile statistics were gathered from the Visitor Profile Studies prepared by GLS Research for the LVCVA. 24 Visitation statistics were obtained from calendar year 2006, 2007 and 2008 year-end summaries also compiled by the LVCVA. 25 Information specific to LVCVAattributed room nights was verified by a review of reports produced by LVCVA representatives, including reports from the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, which tracks event leads and may be queried using a number of fields, as well as data gathered from different departments (i.e., call center and web booking). ANALYSIS LIMITATIONS This analysis provides return-on-investment estimates for the LVCVA s direct operations and its advertising efforts. This analysis uses the best available data to examine hotel room night occupancy attributable to the LVCVA and the effectiveness of advertising efforts by the LVCVA. It relies on data reported by the LVCVA, only some of which was audited by public accounting firms. Although we have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the data utilized, they have not been subjected to any auditing or review procedures by Applied Analysis. The factors quantified in this analysis are compelling, but it is important to understand what is not included. There is no readily available way to 23 See, LVCVA 2009 Budget at 24 See, 2008 Visitor Profile Studies (with historical data) for Las Vegas, Laughlin, and Mesquite: each was prepared by GLS Research for the LVCVA at 25 See, Year-end Summary for 2006 and Year-end Summary for 2007 at in order to calculate fiscal year 2007 visitation statistics.
12 Page 11 determine the extent of the overlap between the LVCVA s direct activities and the reach of its advertising campaigns (e.g., the extent to which a person attending a meeting at the Las Vegas Convention Center is more likely to do so because of the LVCVA s out-of-market advertising). This analysis conservatively assumes that there is no overlap, respecting that a great many visitors that come to Las Vegas after being exposed to the LVCVA s ads have no direct interaction with the LVCVA. Additionally, this analysis focuses on impacts that can be measured as well as comparative analyses. Those impacts that are not immediately quantifiable, such as the inherent value in the Las Vegas brand; the effectiveness of selected media campaigns; or the ability to broaden the visitor base built on cooperative synergies between the industry, the community and the LVCVA, adding incremental value not included in the previous figures. Assumptions in this analysis were intentionally conservative; this is not intended to suggest, nor should it be interpreted to indicate, that other factors not considered here would not also generate significant positive returns for the community. Finally, it is important to note that this is a preliminary undertaking that will be supplemented by on-going and future analyses. This report is not intended to be comprehensive and may not be appropriate for all purposes.