Does Las Vegas Deserve a Recovery?
I am in Las Vegas on business this week – attending some trade shows to help a couple of clients find competitive infringing products. Not fun but productive. With an entire industry jammed into a single convention center, finding knock-off targets is like shooting ducks in a pond.
Yet Vegas has not seemed to respond well. The city is increasingly difficult to get around. The streets are crowded. The monorail system is anemic and over-priced. The worst is that the hotels are trying to boost profits by price-gouging convention travelers.
The conventions in town this week are huge. Most of the moderate and high end hotels are sold out. My assistant found a standard room at Caesar’s for the ridiculously high rate of $450 – on a Wednesday. I have been to Vegas many times with Mrs. ToughMoneyLove and sometimes with the kids. We have always stayed at nice hotels and never paid anywhere near that rate. I complained to the desk clerk at check-in. He unapologetically told me that when a large convention is in town and the hotels are full, the rates get jacked-up big time.
That’s classic supply-and-demand capitalism, of course, but here is what really bothered me. As he was checking me in, the clerk asked if I wanted a room upgrade. In response, I asked him if the upgraded room would cost more than $450. “Of course”, he said. I told him no thanks. Ten seconds later he told me that he was going to upgrade me to a mini-suite at no extra charge.
Who is he kidding?
Obviously, there were no standard rooms available. This mini-suite was the only room he had to accommodate my reservation. But instead of just giving it to me (because he had no choice), he tried to suck some more money out of me. Then he pretended he was doing me a favor.
This is a classic case of customer abuse, which to me is foolish behavior in the hospitality industry.
It is sad, really, that Vegas cannot seem to find its place in our economy. I used to enjoy coming here. Considering that Vegas has been built on excess and wasteful spending, it may never regain its former self. Our personal spending habits have evolved and Vegas has not evolved with them. Vegas may not deserve the economic recovery that it desperately needs.
I’m going to give Las Vegas my Fools of Finance award this week.
Have any of you experienced the Sin City recently? Thoughts?