Southern Nevada Tourism: Excelling in the Global Economy
Las Vegas — Southern Nevada’s tourism industry must not only compete in the 21st century global economy. It must excel. And to excel, we need to figure out how to move the 40 million people who annually visit Southern Nevada seamlessly through our resort corridor. That’s the premise behind the transformative work of Michael Gallis, a national metropolitan development expert. He will be speaking at LVGEA’s breakfast meeting May 14 at 7:00 a.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.
For more information and to register for this event, please click here: http://www.www.lvgea.org/store/ But first, check out this Q&A with Michael Gallis to learn more about the important work he’s doing:
Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA): Michael, let’s set the stage. As the Las Vegas Convention & Visitor’s Authority prepares for a $2.5 billion capital investment in its Global Business District, you’re working with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada to help survey transportation infrastructure near and on the Strip. What specifically are you looking at?
Michael Gallis: One of the things we’re looking at is what does a city need to really compete in the 21st century? Just standing still, you get left behind. And Las Vegas is certainly making some massive investments in its future, and it is the convention center of America. Being that, as we think about reinforcing that role, does that create an opportunity to do other things? … The issue of infrastructure and convenience becomes extremely important. The question becomes, in the next level of infrastructure, how could we create an even more convenient city?
LVGEA: How would you describe your approach to some of the transformational work you’ve done to bolster economies in Orlando, Cincinnati, Charlotte & other regions?
Michael Gallis: Metro areas are made of systems, just like the human body. They all have to work together and be healthy for you to thrive. So what we do is look across these systems: urban growth patterns, economy and infrastructure. What we’ve found is that many regions have great resources that they overlook. Without having to attract anything new, they can take what they have and create greater value with it… We have to take a look at it and understand what we have to start with before we start pouring new stuff in. Then we ask what do we invest to create the greatest possible return? That’s our basic approach.
LVGEA: Transformation sounds expensive. How do other communities pay for these investments, and how do other communities get buy-in, convince the public that they’re good investments?
Michael Gallis: Transformational investments can be cheaper than incrementalism. It sounds like we spend less, but you spend more because you do more little increments that don’t get you anywhere as opposed to transformational investments that get you somewhere.
LVGEA: How does transportation investment change the game for the convention industry?
Michael Gallis: When we talk about travel, we talk about mode and cost of travel but we also talk about something called the travel experience. What does that mean? It’s ‘how was the trip’? The more that we can reduce the amount of wait time, the more we can increase what we call the experience and imagine it even as a fun experience. The goal is to create the nation’s best travel experience so by the time you leave your home city and you arrive in your hotel, you feel like you’ve had a seamless, uninterrupted trip without frustration. We’ll be assessing what we have now and how can we make new transportation investments to improve it.
LVGEA: How does this translate into economic development for our region?
Michael Gallis: Tourism depends a lot on disposable income and during downturns that disposable income really shrinks. So how do we augment the existing economy and at the same time introduce different economic components? Different kinds of economic activity demand different types of mobility and access. Could we create a system that could also give rise to and support different kinds of economic activity?
LVGEA: How vital is transportation in the $2.5 billion makeover of LVCVA?
Michael Gallis: It’s hugely important. What’re the most important things in travel today? Reliability, cost and safety. No. 1 I said reliability… So when I arrive in Las Vegas, I am coming to a convention. Maybe my plane is delayed and I want to go directly to the convention rather than go to the hotel first. How do I get there? The fact that you can create an infrastructure and you can have someone say “I know I don’t have any worries because I’m in Las Vegas and I know I can get around.” Then I can focus on what I’m doing. We feel that creating the right transportation infrastructure is to create the infrastructure so that people say Las Vegas is the most convenient city in America. You get to Las Vegas, and you say “don’t worry about it, it’s easy to get around.”
This interview has been slightly edited for brevity and clarity.