Landing in Vegas: Where is everyone?

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As always, I waited until the last minute to pack my suitcase and gather my things for my journey. My main concern the night before was trying to work on a few overdue articles, but then I looked at my chipped nails and had to do something immediately to take care of that issue. That turned into an adventure in itself, as the nail shop was busy on a Friday evening.

Nevertheless I managed to make sure I had all of my electronics tucked away in the corners of my suitcase, too many pairs of shoes, all my girly things, and finally closed the suitcase at 5am in the morning. I rushed to get to the airport for my 6:20 am flight on American Airlines and made it with five minutes to relax before the boarding process. The flight was smooth and uneventful and I believe I even dozed off somewhere over the Grand Canyon.

Landing in Vegas, I went directly to the taxi stand, prepared to wait for at least 30 minutes in line (which is the norm for CES week). I had to look around to make sure I was in the correct place because there was NO ONE waiting for a taxi. The taxis were there, but the travelers weren’t. I had a nice chat with the driver on my way to Caesar’s Palace, my home for the first half of my stay. He said he was shocked because I was only the 2nd CES attendee he picked up that day and usually by this time it’s very busy.

Caesar's Palace Hotel Lobby in Las Vegas

CES has stated that 2013 is the year with the largest exhibit space in the history of the event. Last year they had the highest number of attendees, but judging by this economy, the lack of travelers, even at this early date, and the absence of some major names in the industry on the exhibit floor (Microsoft, Nokia), I’m curious to see how this year plays out.

CES is the largest conference held in Las Vegas each year. It’s an indication of the year Las Vegas and other convention cities might have when it comes to tourism dollars and attendance. The S&P might have closed this week at a five year high, but if the consumers and companies aren’t spending money, we know how that trickles down to affect even the dishwasher at a restaurant.

I’m currently sitting in the press room at Mandalay Bay (the CES media hub for this year), looking around at the empty chairs, which seem eerily similar to the sparse number of guests checking into Caesar’s Palace yesterday afternoon. Vegas used to be known for it’s inexpensive meals and good value hotel rooms. I know I’m trying to stick to a budget while I’m here and I can complain all day long about taxi drivers taking tourists “the long route” just to get an extra $5, but I’d like to put a bit of blame on the hospitality industry raising the rates through the roof during events such as this. A room that normally runs $80 per night goes up to $700 on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

CES 2013 Empty Press Room

While I’m enjoying the convenience of not having to wait in long lines, I sure hope tomorrow things pick up around this city, giving a bit of hope that things are still moving and grooving in the hospitality world and also the electronics industry. Because if this is any indication of the way the tourism industry will be for 2013, then things are not good in the travel world.

I’m currently in Las Vegas on assignment covering the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). If you’d like to follow along via social media, be sure to follow me on Twitter: @CajunMama.