A green light for World of Concrete could signal trade show revival

Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau

Attendees mill about during the World of Concrete show Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

If the World of Concrete trade show is going to take place as scheduled in June, the CEO of Las Vegas’ convention authority would like to find out in the next two weeks.

Originally scheduled for January, the construction trade show — which brings around 60,000 to Las Vegas during a non-pandemic year — was rescheduled to take place in early June at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Informa, the company that puts on the event, still plans to have an in-person show in June, but the event needs approval from Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.

As of now, no more than 100 people are allowed to congregate for a group meeting due to the state’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

That figure is set to increase to 250 — or 50% of capacity, whichever number is smaller — on March 15, though that wouldn’t be nearly the capacity level needed for a successful in-person show.

What that in-person event looks like, though, is still up in the air, said Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

“What show organizers are looking to be able to communicate to their exhibitors is that customers are going to be in front of that exhibit that they’re paying for,” Hill said. “Right now, we don’t have the ability to tell them that. We are hopeful — we’ve asked that World of Concrete be approved in the next two weeks.”

For now, Hill said during an LVCVA marketing committee meeting Monday, the wait-and-see approach will have to suffice.

“I’m hoping that kind of signal is the signal to everybody,” Hill said. “We’re looking for more certainty that (World of Concrete) can move forward. It’s a big enough show, it applies to a broad variety of opportunities.”

A spokeswoman for the World of Concrete show said Monday in an email that plans for the show remain on pace, though organizers will need additional guidance from Nevada’s government on capacity limits.

Conventions and trade shows have been mostly sidelined since the coronavirus turned Las Vegas on its head last spring.

According to authority research, Las Vegas attracted only 1.7 million convention attendees in 2020, which was down 74% from 2019. Almost all of the convention visitors came to Las Vegas before the mid-March casino shutdown last year.

About 19 million people visited Las Vegas in 2020, down more than 50% from 2019.

As more people across the country get vaccinated, though, travel sentiment is widely expected to change.

During a quarterly earnings call last week, Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg said the company’s group hotel business in Las Vegas for the second half of this year is up more than 30% when compared to the second half of 2019.

Partially aided by its new 550,000-square-foot Caesars Forum conference center, Reeg said the company has about $200 million worth of group business on its books in Las Vegas for the last half of 2021.

If it goes as planned, World of Concrete would be the first major event to take place inside the Convention Center’s nearly $1 billion West Hall expansion buildout.

CES, the popular electronics trade show, was supposed to christen the West Hall expansion in January, but that show was instead presented in a digital-only format.

As for the marketing plan for the rest of 2021, the LVCVA, which contracts with local marketing firm R&R Partners, is expected to present several messages to target group customers.

The main message is set to center on one main thought: Las Vegas is safe and open for business again.

The plan, according to R&R officials, is to also showcase shows that will take place early this year. World of Concrete isn’t the only show slated to take place in the coming months, but it is the largest.

“There’s overwhelming hoorays and hoorahs from our customers that want to come back,” said Bill Vassiliadis, principal of R&R Partners. “We are the Vegas people knew and loved. The meeting planner demand for Las Vegas is very strong.”

The 2021 Las Vegas marketing plan, which will include strategies for group business and independent travelers, will come before the LVCVA board for approval next week.