Other than gambling, conventions are the second most precious asset keeping the 62,000 Las Vegas hotel rooms filled with guests. In fact, many would argue that conventions are more important to Las Vegas than gambling, given that many U.S. residents now live less than 45 minutes from casino entertainment.
The stakes are indeed high, as Las Vegas battles other convention cities such as Orlando, Anaheim, and Chicago for a piece of the lucrative convention business. Last year, more than 5 million convention attendees visited our oasis in the desert to be part of 22,000 conventions in Las Vegas. Granted, it helps that the city is home to fifteen of the world’s 25 largest hotels that can deliver millions of square feet of close convention space.
Also, Las Vegas offers the convenience of McCarran International Airport, a sunny climate, and world-class entertainment to attendees. The convention business does its share to help deliver the $50 billion dollars that tourism brought to Southern Nevada in 2014. That figure represents more than 54 percent of the region’s gross product, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
These conventions are a culmination of months of planning from the best professional convention planners. While conventions come in many shapes and sizes, several annual conventions have been held in Las Vegas so long that they are now part of the fabric of the city.
Las Vegas barely has time to shake off the New Year’s confetti before CES rolls into town. The Consumer Electronics Show in 2016 runs from January 6-9 and will occupy 2.4 million square feet by 3,600 companies.
This highly watched convention is the launching point for the electronic gadgets and products that will be appearing on store shelves by summer. To stay relevant in this quick moving industry, technology companies use CES to introduce and build excitement around new merchandise. Many are predicting that 2016 will be the year virtual reality is ready for the prime time.
February ushers the World of Concrete convention into town and runs the 2-5. The World of Concrete features more than 18,000 companies welcoming more than 60,000 attendees to town to showcase the newest in commercial construction innovations. Exhibits are found at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The Men’s Apparel Guild of California, or MAGIC, also picks February in Las Vegas to offer a preview the season’s fashion offerings to more than 85,000 attendees. MAGIC occupies the majority of the Mandalay Bay Convention area and returns to Las Vegas during the fall to offer fashion for the following spring.
April in Las Vegas belongs to the National Association of Broadcasters or NAB. This convention is the world's largest event covering filmed entertainment along with the development, management and delivery of content across all mediums. NAB brings more than 100,000 attendees to multiple locations on the Las Vegas Strip. This is a great convention for celebrity spotting as it brings the largest names in the business to town.
If Las Vegas did not sparkle enough, June 3-6 sees the annual return of the JCK Trade Show to Mandalay Bay for almost 40,000 people. JCK is the jewelry industry's premiere trade show, where industry networks meet each year to review market trends. Additionally, this event gives the jewelry industry opportunities to discuss the future of jewelry designing and retailing.
If ever a convention selected the right city, it would have to be the Global Gaming Expo, or simply G2E. At the Sands Expo Center from September 27 to 29, this convention brings together 30,000 attendees in the casino gaming field to introduce new casino gaming machines equipped with the newest themes. Topics discussed will include tribal gaming, iGaming, security and surveillance, compliance, and the potential for increased sports betting.
Although it is not technically a convention, the National Finals Rodeo wraps up the year in Las Vegas each December, during a time that is traditionally slow. Seasoned Las Vegas residents will testify that before the rodeo began coming to town, the city was a ghost town during the month of December.
Lasting a whopping ten days, NFR, also known as the Super Bowl of Rodeo, hosts events such as bareback riding, steer wrestling, and team roping. This very popular event, made possible through professional conference planners, brings more than 175,000 spectators from all over the world to Las Vegas.
The National Finals Rodeo wraps up just in time for the city to brace itself for the estimated 300,000 people that will pick Las Vegas to welcome in the New Year. The fireworks will wow, the champagne will be cold, and Las Vegas will prepare to do it all again the next year with bigger and larger reasons to visit our city.