This fall, Global Gaming Expo 2004 (G2E) will debut F&B at G2E, a culinary marketplace catering to the burgeoning food, beverage and hospitality sector of the gaming industry. How important is the F&B component to the success of our business? One need only look at the latest public opinion data and revenue numbers to see that the viability and profitability of today’s casino is inextricably linked to factors well beyond the casino floor.
Research shows that many visitors consider dining and entertainment important parts of their overall gaming experience. Recent poll data indicate more people now view Las Vegas as an entertainment destination than as a gaming destination. The trend is nowhere more visible than on the Las Vegas Strip, the bellwether for our industry. According to the Nevada Gaming Abstract, consumer spending on F&B has grown faster than even gaming revenue, up 145 percent since 1992. And, according to the National Restaurant Association 2004 Industry Forecast, Nevada is projected to lead the nation in restaurant sales growth this year.
Additional surveys by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority show the average trip expenditure for food and drink has risen 102 percent during the last decade. And, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reports that non-gaming revenue accounts for 57 percent of total revenue today compared to 43 percent 10 years ago. F&B represented nearly 19 percent of the Nevada gaming industry’s total revenues in fiscal year 2002, surpassing even hotel room revenue. This year, Clark County food and beverage sales totaled $501 million in January alone.
While most of us are likely well acquainted with this data, the numbers are worth noting in order to illustrate the sea change that has occurred in our industry over the past few years. More than ever, development of a quality F&B program is just as important to the profitability of a casino property as is the design of the casino floor.
The trend toward increased diversification throughout the gaming industry has not come about by accident. As casino operations stabilized across much of the industry over the last 10 years, operators recognized the need to provide added value to customers if we were to truly compete in the larger entertainment arena.
Today, F&B and entertainment options within casinos have become the great differentiators in our market. Today’s typical casino customer does not come to Las Vegas merely to gamble. In fact, many do not gamble at all. Instead, celebrity chefs, star entertainers, innovative menus, luxurious rooms and level of service – both on and off the casino floor – distinguish each property. New restaurant, bar and ultra-lounge openings often attract more attention than the debut of new games or show floor features.
To compete in the gaming arena and the larger entertainment marketplace, it is no longer enough to offer our customers a quality experience on the casino floor – we must provide a first-class experience at all levels. Of course, these trends are not limited to the Las Vegas market. When the Borgata opened in Atlantic City last year, it featured four five-star restaurants. Mohegan Sun boasts six gourmet options. The trend is quickly making its way to other gaming jurisdictions across the country, and will only expand as operators continue to search for ways to elevate their properties above their competitors.
These new realities are the impetus for the creation of F&B at G2E. It has long been our goal to provide G2E attendees with the tools necessary to succeed in the increasingly competitive gaming arena, and since it is no longer possible to have a meaningful discussion about our industry without including the F&B component, we designed F&B at G2E to address this sector of the industry and keep attendees on the cutting edge of what’s happening throughout the F&B arena.
Scheduled in conjunction with G2E from Oct. 5-7, 2004 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, F&B at G2E will be a unique event within G2E, featuring products ranging from gourmet food and beverage and food service equipment and supplies, to technology, décor and other items essential to the delivery of a first-class culinary experience. The event is sponsored by the Epicurean Club of Las Vegas, whose members include the leading F&B executives from major Las Vegas casinos.
Exhibits on the show floor will be complemented by a new F&B conference track focused on the unique challenges of delivering F&B service in the casino environment. Planned topics include how to increase profit margin in restaurant ventures while continuing to provide superior customer service, how to market and design dining destinations with an eye to driving patrons to the casino floor, and the relative benefits of franchising vs. joint ventures and other F&B management options. Conference speakers will include chefs, designers and leading F&B executives from across the gaming industry.
F&B at G2E plans to complement these conference sessions with additional activities on the show floor, including food demos, wine tastings and other events.
The addition of F&B at G2E is just one of the many ways G2E 2004 is giving leaders of the international gaming industry complete access to information on the trends and developments driving the industry forward. In addition to F&B at G2E, G2E 2004 will feature the debut of a new Design and Décor exhibit pavilion and conference track, as well as a the conference Signature Series, which will provide a daily in-depth roundtable discussion of some of the key issues facing our industry. These events will complement the dynamic product showcases and conference program that have made G2E the must-attend trade show and conference in the international gaming arena.
Our business has evolved dramatically over the years. If only one thing is certain, it is that change will continue, and innovation will rule the day. Our marketing, construction and investment strategies must adjust if we are to keep pace with the demands of our increasingly sophisticated customer base. The gaming floor will always be a central focus of our industry, but Las Vegas and other gaming jurisdictions have evolved into entertainment destinations well beyond gaming. To ensure this evolution continues, we must gain full knowledge and understanding of the impact and tremendous potential of F&B and other emerging business sectors. G2E offers that insight, as well as the opportunity to harness the latest innovations to create the next industry trends. I hope you will join us this fall for F&B at G2E and all the diverse offerings at G2E 2004.