Visitors to Las Vegas paid the highest room rates in history last month, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Thursday.
The average daily room rate in September was $187.18 a night — the highest average daily room rate since April’s $176.97 when the city hosted the National Football League Draft. Rates on the Strip were $199.49 a night with downtown Las Vegas rates at $117.95. Rates were 20.1 percent higher than they were in September 2021 and 36.5 percent higher than in prepandemic September 2019.
Kevin Bagger, vice president of the LVCVA Research Center, said visitors flocked to Las Vegas on weekends for the Life Is Beautiful festival, the iHeartRadio festival, the season-opening Las Vegas Raiders game against the Arizona Cardinals and the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin Super Middleweight boxing match.
September also featured the traditional end-of-summer Labor Day weekend.
Hospitality industry expert Amanda Belarmino explained the double-edged nature of higher room rates.
“The current average room rate is a complex metric,” said Belarmino, assistant professor at UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hospitality. “On the one hand, we know that hospitality firms have been competing for employees. This is an expensive proposition which needs to be offset by increased earnings and increased room rates may be a part of this. Inflation has also impacted supplies to hotels, which may also account for the increased room rates.”
She said higher rates may change people’s perception of Las Vegas as a value proposition, but she doesn’t think they’re enough to sway people from staying away.
“Increased room rates may also be an indicator of a change in the perception of the city,” Belarmino said. “If consumers no longer view Las Vegas as a value destination and are viewing it as a trade-off with high priced destinations like Los Angeles and San Francisco, then higher average room rates may be the wave of the future.
“The increases do not seem to be at a level that would deter guests, and there is still enough variety in our market of higher-priced and low-priced rooms as well as seasonality to allow value-conscious guests to have options.”
As has been the case for months, current indicators are better than they were in 2021, but not as good as in pre-pandemic 2019.
Bagger said overall hotel occupancy reached 83.1 percent, which was 10.1 points ahead of last year, but 5.2 points behind September 2019. Weekend occupancy reached 92.1 percent — tied with March for second best in 2022 behind April’s 93.2 percent — but 3.5 points behind September 2019.
Bagger said midweek occupancy reached 78.6 percent, up 12.5 points from last year, but down 6.5 points from 2019.
Traffic on highways leading to Las Vegas was down for the month, possibly due to gas prices.
Nevada Department of Transportation counts on all major highways are down 3.6 percent to an average 123,362 vehicles per day. At the California-Nevada border on Interstate 15, traffic fell 13.5 percent to 41,125 daily vehicles. NDOT does not discern between local traffic and vehicles with tourists.
Passenger counts from Harry Reid International Airport for September have not been released.
Visitor volume to Laughlin continues to improve slightly. In September, visitation was up 2.9 percent to 101,000 compared with last year, but off 28.2 percent from September 2019.
The hotel occupancy rate was at 48.8 percent, up 1.4 points from a year ago, but the average daily room rate in Laughlin was down 6 percent to $73.01 a night.
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