Las Vegas Becomes Dining Mecca but Lacks Publicity

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Las Vegas is known for a lot of things and lately its been all about their food. Bloggers are talking about Vegas’ entrance into the culinary elite, however many are wondering where all the marketing is.

Las Vegas has the reputation for being bigger, better and brighter than many places with gambling being its most infamous attribute. However, lately, people are turning their attention to the culinary delights the city offers, but no thanks to any marketing campaigns.

Vegas can do simple shrimp cocktails or banquets that feed thousands and the hospitality industry is top-notch. The city has many fabulous restaurants and celebrity chefs and along with New York, often gets pegged as one of the best culinary destinations around. But despite this opinion, no one seems to be shouting it from the top of Vegas’ sparkly high-rises and many people don’t know what Vegas has to offer in terms of dining because Las Vegas marking machines have failed to keep pace with the changes that have occurred in the city since Wolfgang Puck opened Spago in the Forum Shops in December 1992.

Las Vegas has more sommeliers than New York, more great steakhouses than anywhere apart from New York and more high-end French chefs than anywhere besides Paris. Vegas has two Joel Robuchon restaurants, Guy Savoy, Alain Ducasse and Pierre Gagnair outlets and the best of Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. However, having all of that means nothing is people outside the food industry don’t know just how great dining is in Las Vegas.

The 1999 September issue of Wine Spectator devoted more than 70 pages to analyzing Las Vegas’ restaurant scene with many articles declaring Vegas was the place no gourmet could afford to ignore and should be taken seriously. Wine lists in Vegas are considered some of the best in the world and the after the issue came out, every chef and restaurateur was heading to Vegas to make their mark.

However, even years later, it appears that Vegas’ hotels and marketers are taken by surprise by the dining success Vegas is seeing. Las Vegas Conventions and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Vice President Cathy Tuli said, “Vegas needs to start making history with its culinary scene.” Some think that the LVCVA should invest in an advertising campaign specifically focused on food.

While the city does have Uncork’d, a five-year-old extravaganza showcasing the best restaurants in town for four days every May, many people think it’s just not enough. The event is co-sponsored by Bon Appetit magazine as well as the LVCVA and partnering properties and has grown every year, even showing an 18% growth in 2009 when everything in town seemed to be headed downward. Uncork’d appeals to the more affluent tourist, however, who will probably choose to attend special events like this regardless of the economic climate.

According to a 2010 visitor survey by LVCVA, the average visitor spent $256 on food during their visit, as opposed to $122 on shopping.

Vice President  of Aria Food and Beverage, Christina Clifton, said, “When it comes to marketing ourselves as a dining destination, we’re still finding our way. Food has evolved from being a primary amenity to being a great one.”

Tuli said that “No hotel has ever suggested we do a food-focused ad campaign concentrating on our collection of restaurants. However, we do promote our restaurant scene through Uncork’d and bundle it with other ads that run in our feeder markets.”

Cosmopolitan President John Unwin, a foodie in his own right, adds, “There needs to be a top-down commitment. Food and beverage executives will always push for more promotion, but it’s the decision makers who need to recognize what a spectacular product has evolved here in the last decade.”

Source: Vegas Inc.

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