If you’ve been to Las Vegas recently you should have noticed a lot of changes. These changes are meant to keep the city fresh to returning customers and to attract newer and younger customers. Well, the good news for the casino and hotel operators is that the refreshments they’ve made to Las Vegas are working for the younger and, hopefully, future customers.
In the past two years the median age of the average customer in Las Vegas has gone from 50 years old to 44 years old. Simple math would tell you that’s a difference of six years. While six years isn’t exactly a lifetime it is an entirely different life. Nobody is the same today as they were six years ago. Six years ago the people that are now legal age to gamble were just 15.
That 50 year old that may be hitting a midlife crisis today was a relatively spry young 44 years old just six years ago. The change is made more drastic when you realize that a median is the midpoint of a value and not the average. In this case it means that there are many more new young people visiting than older people who continue to visit Las Vegas.
The good news for the older Las Vegas customer is that you’re not really getting older quicker as the people around you are simply getting younger. Those numbers of young customers in Las Vegas are growing and will continue to grow as restaurants, bars, clubs and shows are tailored to fit their needs. Someone closer to 21 has much different desires and needs that someone twice their age.
We first saw refreshments in the different types of entertainment. Years ago people would come to Las Vegas and enjoy a free music act in a lounge. Free lounge acts are mostly gone in Las Vegas today. Sure there were shows that cost money back then but paying for a ticket to see Elvis Presley or The Rat Pack wasn’t the only option for entertainment. Today younger customers are paying upwards of $50-$100 when visiting a nightclub to see a DJ play their favorite songs.
The Britney Spears “Piece of Me” residency may be looked at as a game changer for shows in the future. In addition to younger customers, the show helped bring Planet Hollywood $20 million more in revenue over the past year. Bruno Mars is doing the same across the street at The Cosmopolitan. Even traditional shows like Absinthe at Caesars Palace are skewing towards younger customers.
The changes are also taking place in restaurants. Gone are the bargain buffets that would save you money on meals for the rest of the day. Today buffets are gourmet experiences that often cost as much as eating a meal at a traditional restaurant. Restaurants are also trying to bring that nightclub vibe to a dining experience. It’s working as Tao and Lavo are among the restaurants in Las Vegas that make the most money.
Besides bonus bets and lower returns casino games haven’t changed much over the years. Some casino games can never change but it’s reasonable to expect the casino floor to have a new look and feel as their changes mirror the changes in other parts of the casino-hotels. Revenue from the casino may not be what it was 50 years ago but its profit margin is nothing the operators will forget about.
Las Vegas is constantly changing for better or worse. The casino-hotel operators are always looking forward to their next customer. It’s been a while since they started building for new customers but it seems as though the operators have found a woking equation for newer, younger customers. Expect these kind of changes to continue.
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.