LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Conventions and trade shows like the Tobacco Plus Expo are extremely important to the Las Vegas valley’s economy. So, when COVID-19 canceled all of them for an entire year, it had a devastating effect.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority says, during a normal year, meetings and conventions represent an economic impact of more than $11 billion in Las Vegas.
Now that those businesses are coming back, the industry is excited to do what it does best...host a great gathering.
Financial analyst Steve Budin says these meetings and conventions attract big spenders, which means big business for the city.
"Trade shows and conventions are tremendously important to Las Vegas," said Budin.
"Generally, the person who attends these trade shows and conventions have a higher average income, tends to spend a lot more money when they visit Vegas, as opposed to the leisure traveler," he explained. "So, these are the folks that are going to fill up the fancy restaurants, and the theaters, and the high-end shops."
13 Action News interviewed Marco Villarreal last summer. At the time, he was producing, selling and delivering snow to locals in to-go kits called "snow buddies."
But prior to the pandemic, Villarreal was known as the "Las Vegas Iceman" famous for making elaborate ice sculptures for conventions on the Las Vegas Strip.
With the impending return of trade shows and conventions, Villarreal now believes his original business will bounce back.
"Now that things are opening, we're starting to see more uptick in weddings and birthday parties, future conventions," he said. "So, we've got older clients and new clients saying they're coming in August, they're coming in October, pretty heavy actually."
Villarreal is among the Las Vegas business owners who count on conventions and trade shows and who are hoping the industry comes back quickly and even better than before.
"It's not if, it's when," said Villarreal.
"If it happens in the summer, it's great," he said. "The sooner, the better, sure. Or, is it gonna kind of stay mellow until October when we're normally busy? And then everybody's like, 'I needed it yesterday!' and then we're back to 2019."
After the Tobacco Plus Expo, there's only one more convention on the calendar in the month of May. But then there's a big bump in business, with at least eight conventions scheduled in June.