Reprinted from Leisure Group Travel
141 miles per hour. Hit this speed on the interstate and it’s a felony ticket. Do it at SpeedVegas, one of the many new group-oriented activities in Las Vegas, and it wins you bragging rights with your buddies.
On a recent trip to Sin City with a small group of friends, I zipped around a closed racetrack behind the wheel of two dream cars, a Porsche 911 and Lamborghini Huracan. Thanks to a professional driver/coach as my passenger, I navigated the tactical course at heart-pounding speeds. It’s just one element of an ever-growing series of YOLO (you only live once) experiences offered in Las Vegas.
In fact, the entire tourism scene in Las Vegas has been revitalized. While a record 42.9 million tourists visited in 2016, what they are doing once they get there is changing.
While a generation ago 70 percent of monies spent in Vegas were at the casino, today that figure is closer to 30 percent. Groups are more apt to spend two hours watching Britney Spears at Planet Hollywood or Celine Dion at Caesars Palace than in front of a slot machine.
“It is all about the experiences in the destination, and the more authentic those experiences are, the more photogenic and the more “story-worthy” the better. Coming back from a trip and being able to share a compelling story with friends and co-workers is what everyone wants from their vacation,” commented Mike Schields, CEO of Destination America, the company that builds and operates programs for top guided-vacation brands such as Trafalgar and Insight Vacations.
“As an operator, our goal is to make our programs as interesting and compelling as possible so as to give our guests experiences that they might have not necessarily found on their own, or did not think or know about,” Schields added. Increasingly, tour operators are skipping the four-hour city tour and providing options where guests can enjoy activities that appeal specifically to them.
“Attractions like SpeedVegas fit in well with Las Vegas’ fast-paced and high-roller image. A Ferrari or Lamborghini is well out-side the reach of most of us in our lifetimes, but getting an opportunity to take one of these amazing machines on a real racetrack, under the supervision of a skilled driver in-structor, is very hard to resist,” Schields said.
Frank Corto, president of SinCity VIP, a local tour and event company, said that while nightlife, dining and shows are still very popular, they’ve seen a shift towards adventure activities such as desert dune buggy tours, exotic race cars, modern gun ranges and skydiving.
“We offer customized vacation packages for small groups, and our most popular type of group is still the pre-wedding celebration tradition of the bachelor and bachelorette party. Las Vegas will always be a favorite destination for this type of event and for good reason.”