Las Vegas is known for many things, with novel, unique experiences being at the top of the list. It is, after all, the Entertainment Capital of the World. As retail experts the world over descended upon the city to learn about providing more experiences that get people off their couches and into their establishments, they were convening in a city that is the ideal case study.
Below are the top five lessons Vegas can offer the retail world.
Mixed-Use is Meaningful
Both on and off the Strip, mixed-use reigns supreme. Las Vegas Boulevard is built upon this concept, where lines blur between hospitality, restaurants, retail and entertainment on a daily basis. Multifamily also dots the Strip with projects like MGM’s CityCenter, while just about every resort features convention center space and on-site offices.
“Mixed-use, adaptive repurposing of real estate, etc., are strategies we’re actively considering and studying,” said RECon attendee Dan Sheridan, a partner at Hoffman Strategy Group. “The basic question is what is the highest and best use?”
Off-Strip, the northwest submarket of Summerlin has experienced great success with Downtown Summerlin, a 400-acre, mixed-use development by the Howard Hughes Corporation that features more than 125 stores and restaurants; One Summerlin, a 200,000-square-foot, Class A office building; the new 124-unit Constellation luxury apartment complex; and outdoor public spaces utilized for programming, among other amenities.
On the opposite side of town, Henderson West just received its final approval from the City of Henderson. The proposed plan is zoned for 2,920 residential units ranging from single-family to urban mixed-use buildings, with up to 670,000 square feet of office and retail space and 250 hotel rooms. The 103-acre project is estimated to cost upwards of $900 million, according to the city.
“A mix of uses works,” said attendee Barbra Coffee, director of Henderson’s economic development. “Livable, walkable communities are a great fit for both urban and suburban areas. These mixes can co-exist, and they allow people to work close to where they live and vice versa. These mixes create destinations that are unique enough to attract people.”
Suburbs Shouldn’t Be Secondary
As noted above, there is plenty of opportunity in suburban markets. While core areas like the Las Vegas Strip may supply the masses, most of the key residents and workers who support these urban environments still reside in the suburbs. Neighborhoods with room to grow also offer great opportunities for concepts to enter a new market.
Crate and Barrel chose Downtown Summerlin for its first Nevada location, which opened this past November. Ikea opted for the Spring Valley neighborhood just west of the Strip for its first outpost within the state, which debuted to much fanfare in May 2016, while Chick-Fil-A opened its inaugural Nevada doors in Henderson in January 2017. Then you have Shake Shack, which experienced such success at its on-Strip location inside the New York New York resort that it’s now moved into both suburbs with locations in Downtown Summerlin and the District at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson.
“We’re hoping to call attention to the quality of life and demographics of our community at RECon,” Coffee noted. “We really like to get first-to-market concepts, so we use this conference as a chance to reconnect with all commercial real estate developers and tenants to tell them about what’s going on in our region.”
Experience is Everything
Whether bungee jumping off the Stratosphere, enjoying a choreographed fountain show with lights and music, or taking in the sights of the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower, Mandarin Oriental’s 23rd-floor Mandarin Bar or the Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas offers something for everyone. Better yet, the city offers it at every price point from free to fairly expensive. Gaming may have built this city, but indulging your every whim is what’s made it what it is today.
There are helicopter rides into the Grand Canyon, a Prohibition-era distillery in Henderson and free yoga events that utilize headphones called Silent Savasana that regularly pull in 700 attendees. While not every shopping center may contain a 550-foot observation wheel or a volcano spewing lava, Las Vegas shows us diversification makes this city attractive to all demographics.
“There has been a definite shift to adding tenants that draw in shoppers with more than just shopping, because people today want to be entertained,” said attendee Stephanie Skrbin, a principal at Avison Young. “They yearn for those experiences they can’t get at home. That’s why you see a lot of centers using high-profile restaurants and escape rooms to complement the traditional stores. You want to entice people to come out to your center with the promise of a hot, new restaurant or a night of fun, but then you want them to stick around and spend money in the stores.”
Tipsy Robot is a 2,500-square-foot bar inside Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops where two robot bartenders have been taking drink orders on tablets and preparing your concoction without any human assistance since June 2017.
Technology Isn’t Going Anywhere
The LED billboards, free shows featuring purely mechanical casts, and interactive food and beverage menus are commonplace in Las Vegas. They add to the entertainment, convenience and customer service experience, with many visitors now coming to expect that if they need directions to a store or an expanded description of an exotic drink, there’s a tablet for that.
Aside from interactive and robotic concierges — such as the one available at Mandarin Oriental — the tech world is even taking on bartenders. Tipsy Robot is a 2,500-square-foot bar inside Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops where two robot bartenders have been taking drink orders on tablets and preparing your concoction without any human assistance since June 2017.
“We are consistently looking for ways to elevate each shopper’s experience through the introduction of exciting new tenants and store renovations,” said Andrew Miller, president and CEO of Miller Capital Advisory, which is part of a joint venture that owns Miracle Mile Shops. “The world-class mix of tenants appeals to a broad demographic and is reflected in the center’s ongoing success. We intend to further enhance Miracle Mile Shops’ retail and food and beverage offerings.”
The Luxor resort is also home to a new 30,000-square-foot, multi-level competitive gaming venue known as the Esports Arena. It features a competition stage, 50-foot LED video wall, telescopic seating, PC and console gaming stations and a network TV-quality production studio. Accompanying elements like virtual reality platforms, retro gaming consoles and a comprehensive menu by world-renowned chef José Andrés round out the arena.
The Howard Hughes Corporation recently broke ground on a new 10,000-person capacity baseball stadium within their development. The stadium will act as the new home for the Las Vegas 51s, the city’s minor league baseball team.
Entertainment is King
Whether gambling, seeing a show, trying a world-class restaurant or experiencing an activity that is completely new to the senses, Las Vegas thrives on entertainment. Most on-Strip shopping centers contain free shows sprinkled throughout their various corridors, while the pathways to the larger casinos host some of the greatest acts in the world.
Sports has also taken off within all corners of the city, providing ample retail opportunities at every turn. A new $1.8 billion football stadium will be home to the NFL’s Raiders when they come to town in 2020. Henderson West’s approval was made possible in part by its location adjacent to the Raiders’ new 55-acre practice facility and headquarters. City National Arena, the practice facility for the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team, is situated adjacent to Downtown Summerlin. The Howard Hughes Corporation also recently broke ground on a new 10,000-person capacity baseball stadium within their development. The stadium will act as the new home for the Las Vegas 51s, the city’s minor league baseball team.
“This marks an important milestone in the next stage of growth for both Downtown Summerlin and the Las Vegas 51s," said David R. Weinreb, CEO of the Howard Hughes Corporation. "Developing the Las Vegas Ballpark in the heart of Downtown Summerlin is symbolic of our focus on creating dynamic experiences and making entertainment and culture a central component of our communities."
Sports. Convenience. Technology. Entertainment. Customer Service. Diversification. If there’s one city that can teach the rest of the U.S. about the new retail environment, it’s the Entertainment Capital of the World.
— By Nellie Day, contributing writer. This article is part of the 2018 Retail Insight newsletter by Shopping Center Business, a six-week publication leading up to ICSC RECon and including post-conference coverage. Some of the articles and the videos in the publication are created in conjunction with our content partners, which sponsor the newsletter. Click here to subscribe and to see archived newsletters.