This past weekend was one of the worst possible times for the average traveler to visit Las Vegas. The city is coming off several consecutive years of record breaking tourism, with 42 million visitors last year – a full million more than the record breaking attendance in 2014. It seems the city is always bustling these days, but few times are more jammed – or more overpriced – than Memorial Day Weekend.
“It’s the biggest weekend for tourists, worse than New Years. Everything is grossly overpriced, from rooms to nightclub tables, at least double the regular price, ” said Manny Kess, principal of The Kess Group, one of the highest profile of several VIP handler firms or concierges that flourish in a city where who you know is often more important than your bankroll. “These days everyone wants a pool party or cabana, but there are a finite number of hot ‘it’ pools, and business people want them to impress clients, and it gets to the point where you have to tell this 24-year old grad student trying to enjoy his one weekend in Vegas that he has to commit to spending eight or nine grand just to do a pool party. I get a lot of Australian clients who come in the summer because it’s their winter, and they don’t know our holidays, but they are flexible, so just by steering them from one week to the next, I can save them thousands on their vacation.”
Most people think of Vegas VIP services as something that costs more money, not less, and this can certainly be the case, but with local expertise there are a surprising number of ways they can save you.
“Anyone who is not from Vegas, especially visitors from overseas, wants to do to a helicopter tour, like 90% of the people who call us. They see these ads for the Grand Canyon, but the cheapest heli-trip there is $449 per person, and the most popular one, the one that actually lands there for 30 minutes, is at least $650. That’s two or three grand with the wife and kids, and that shocks a lot of people. But at night they do these 15-minute flights over the Strip for $99, and today it’s all about selfies, Instagram, so they get the helicopter experience, the captured ‘memories,’ and the aerial view and it costs the whole family less than one person would usually pay, and they love it when we suggest it, because most people don’t know about it.”
Most customers do not call someone like Kess to save money, they call for access, whether it is to see the hottest DJ, have the best table at an in nightclub, to score a coveted reservation at a top tier but small restaurant like Joel Robuchon, or get tickets to a sold out show. His firm can do everything from soup to nuts for a Vegas vacations, booking hotel rooms and arranging transportation, but their bread and butter is pool parties, restaurant reservations, shows, day and night clubs, and “hosted entry,” a Vegas euphemism meaning that if he puts you on the list you skip the wait at the nightclub door, which can run 2-3 hours for unconnected guests.