When Will Trade Shows Return to Las Vegas?

Networking over the past year has changed drastically as businesses adjusted to virtual events over in-person events in destination cities like Las Vegas. Although the shift has become the new normal, it can never replace the value of a conversation or connection face to face. 

Las Vegas hosted thousands of conventions each year before the pandemic and lost a valuable part of its economy. With progress in the works, it’s only a matter of time before people who visit for trade shows and conventions return. Here’s what we know so far.

Recuperation in Progress

Las Vegas was one of the hardest-hit cities by the pandemic. The lack of tourism, the city’s main economic driver, left many people without a job or income. After nearly three months of closures, hotel-casinos reopened with limited capacity and heavy restrictions. Along with air travel tourists, visitors from neighboring states helped increase tourism. However, this is only a fraction of what the city normally sees in any given year.

According to The Las Vegas Sun, LVCVA reported that in 2019, 42 million visitors came to Southern Nevada. In the first 11 months of 2020, that number dropped dramatically to only 18 million. 

Important Factors to Consider

While Las Vegas may not return to pre-pandemic days for some time, it’s worth noting two factors that could help facilitate a quicker return. The first is vaccine distribution and its success. For business travel, safety is key for the city to host visitors from all over. Once this is accomplished, visitors will feel more comfortable traveling again. This means that large events, like trade shows and conventions, can resume.

When asked about these developments, Steve Hill, President and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), predicts that trade shows and conventions will have a “smaller footprint” when they return.

Expectations for Later This Year

There is no solid timeline, but Hill has predictions for the next big convention happening in Las Vegas. In June, the LVCVA will host The World of Concrete. He believes that this event will be pivotal for measuring the return of trade shows. Approximately 50,000 visitors came to the convention last February, and he expects the turnout to be the same. 

Hill notes, “I’m optimistic, and I’m really looking forward to World of Concrete in June. It looks to us like visitation will be able to pick up by then. Once it does, I think it will stay.” His confidence reassures that trade shows could increase in the second half of the year, but only time will tell if his forecast holds true.


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