LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Business has been rough for bars like Hogs & Heiffers in Downtown Las Vegas through the coronavirus pandemic with closures, capacity limits, and a continued hesitancy to travel hampering the convention industry.
"COVID? It's been exhausting," said H&H owner Michelle Dell.
Dell said businesses like hers have relied on convention travelers and tourists getting thirsty and heading inside the bar.
A new report from the American Hotel and Lodging Association found that, while leisure travel and hotel occupancy are expected to return to near pre-pandemic levels, business travel, events, and meetings would likely stay below 58% of 2019 numbers.
"If those groups aren't coming," Dell said, "those are the groups that we do parties with all the time."
She said she has already lost out on business because of the down market in the first month of 2022.
Shot Show, World of Concrete, and the American International Motorcycle show were all in town at the same time.
Dell said those attendees are normally perfect for her country and rock style of bar, but her business was just two-thirds of expectations.
"Under normal circumstances, any one of those shows in a single week would pack our house," she said. "Three shows in one week, we should be off the rails."
The Las Vegas Market trade show started Sunday at the World Market Center near H&H, and organizers said they've felt the slump as well.
International Market Centers CEO Bob Maricich said his team expected between 60 and 65 percent of pre-pandemic attendance, and he was pleasantly surprised by that number.
"Because there's virtually no international attendance because of travel restrictions, and there are some big companies with travel restrictions in place."
Dell said she didn't believe there was a quick fix for the issue, but she has been hoping for one so her business can boom once again.
"My hope moving forward is that this really just turns into an endemic as soon as possible," she said.