I begin this story at MGM Corner — Tropicana and the Strip — where three of the four properties are owned by MGM Resorts.
Kate Wik, the company’s senior vice president of marketing strategy, has a message.
“We are repositioning ourselves from a hospitality and gaming company into an entertainment company,” she told me.
To do that, the company unveiled over the weekend a huge, glitzy, multi-media ad campaign with a simple message: “Welcome to the Show.”
The spot got its worldwide introduction Sunday night during the Emmy Awards, seen by millions.
Until now, individual MGM Resorts properties have been featured in advertisements. This is the company’s first national ad campaign.
“Most people think of entertainment as a ticketed arena event, and it’s so much more than the amazing resident shows and arena events that we have,” Wik told me. It’s our celebrity chefs, it’s our spa treatments, it’s a day at the pool. It’s whatever is a way for you to relax and enjoy yourself.”
What MGM is saying is how this city is evolving.
Of our 42 million visitors, fewer come here just to gamble. More come here to play.
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The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority says in 2012, 58 percent of visitors shopped. Last year, it was 69 percent.
In 2012, 35 percent saw a show. Last year, it was 49 percent.
Las Vegas has become an experience, says John DeCree, Director of North American Research at Union Gaming.
“The Las Vegas Strip and Las Vegas is no longer, and hasn’t been for a while, just a casino gaming destination. It’s a much larger entertainment destination and MGM is certainly a pioneer there,” DeCree told me.
With 13 resorts in the city, MGM Resorts has the largest footprint in Las Vegas and more resorts worldwide. The company had net revenue of $9.5 billion in 2016, a 9 percent increase from 2015.
“The company is doing very well,” says Union Gaming’s DeCree. “They’ve made a lot of strides. They’ve really expanded outside of Las Vegas.”
It recently opened a new resort outside Washington, D.C., and is expanding to China. It has been transforming, focusing on entertainment, which in Las Vegas has meant new venues.
“Just got around checking out the T-Mobile (Arena). I got tickets this weekend for ‘iHeart’ … checking out the park … it’s a pretty nice little area,” says Ronald Bowers, visiting from Pennsylvania.
He spoke about T-Mobile Arena, of which MGM Resorts is part-owner. And we spoke in “The Park,” the plaza MGM built that invites visitors to linger, which features its own new entertainment venue next to the soon-to-be-rebranded Monte Carlo.
Steven Smith, from England, was very impressed.
“It’s much more of an attractive place to come back to, definitely,” he said as we stood looking at the restaurants, trees, shade and tables, that mark a departure from Strip spaces of years past.
Which is the whole point, and the message from the city’s biggest entertainment company: “Come, enjoy.”