I’ve been closely watching the news out of Indiana this week about the controversial religious freedom bill. As someone that works in tourism I can see how damaging this bill could be to future tourism and convention business, as well as economic development in general.
I don’t want to focus on whether the bill is right or wrong. After eight years as a political television show producer I’ve mastered the art of agreeing to disagree so this blog is not the place to debate the issues in the bill. The real point of this blog is to invite business and conventions not happy with their political environment to consider Nevada and encourage you to pay attention to your political environment because it can have a tremendous impact on your business.
In this situation Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, is threating to leave the State of Indiana or limit future business growth. This would be a huge hit to their economy. In the convention and tourism industry Gen Con is threatening to move their convention because the new bill doesn’t provide the type of welcome environment that they need for their convention. This got me thinking we should get all the large properties in our area together to bring Gen Con to Reno. It also reminded me that the political environment that your business operates in can have consequences and it is important to be involved and pay attention.
Losing Gen Con would be a big hit to Indianapolis considering it is estimated that the event brings in $50 million economic impact. The event is billed as the “Best Four Days in Gaming” and is the original and longest-running gaming convention in the world. People come to the convention from all over the United States and from more than 40 countries. The event happens the last weekend of July, perfect timing right before Hot August Nights!
Reno would be perfect for this crowd! We are welcoming, we have gamers locally, we have many different venues, and we love a good party where people dress up in costumes. Convention attendees would be welcome in Reno! They would find an affordable place to have their convention with a lot of different opportunities for entertainment. The convention is so big it could take over the town and we would welcome them with open arms!
As I did more research my dream of bringing Gen Con to Reno came to a screeching halt. It turns out the event is too big for Reno. With 56,000 unique attendees over four days we probably don’t have enough hotel rooms in the Reno/Sparks area, we have approximately 20,000 rooms. We might have more rooms by 2020 when their contract with Indianapolis is up for renewal.
In the meantime, I would like to encourage Gen Con to consider moving to Las Vegas, our bigger sibling city to the south. The weather is nice, and they are also welcoming and accepting of all people. Nevada is a great destination for conventions, we are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all attendees. The hospitality industry is what Nevada is world famous for and we know how to host world-class conventions. I know Las Vegas would welcome you with open arms. All of us in Nevada hope before you make any decisions you will come check out all the opportunities the Great State of Nevada has to offer.
Looking to book a convention in Nevada? Here are some helpful links:
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