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The (travellin’) times, they are a changin’
Las Vegas Advisor -- Expert Gambling Books Las Vegas Advisor -- Expert Gambling Books
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Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Wednesday, June 9, 2021


The title of this post isn’t really news. We have all beenreading about changes in the airline, hotel, rental car and ride serviceindustries. I want to talk a little bit about how it affects my specialty,getting to Las Vegas and still having a plus EV trip including all travelexpenses, while playing at low roller levels.

I have been talking and writing about low cost travel to LasVegas since 2016. In the last 9 months, the cost for me to travel from Detroitto Las Vegas has increased. On my most recent trip, 5/28 – 6/2/21, I paid $351for a rental car. This is the most I have paid for a rental car in Las Vegas inthe 35 years I have been doing this. And $351 was actually a very good rate.Vehicles were going for about $600 for the same period.

Airline travel cost has gone up significantly, which makesusing frequent flier points even more important. 10 or 15 years ago, you couldfind $150 round trip tickets to Las Vegas from Detroit. That same flight is$500 now. Add on baggage fees (unless you have an airline credit card or flySouthwest) and it is easy to spend over $1000 for airfare for 2.

Another added cost is resort fees. A major reason resort feescame to be is the hotels are taxed much less on fees than on room rates. If theroom is $150, the hotel pays more in taxes than if the room is $110 with a $40resort fee. Another benefit to the hotel is that they can advertise comped rooms,but those rooms still have a resort fee. I have seen this at Tropicana and theM in Las Vegas. Also, some of the MyVegas offers are structured that way. Afree room for 3 nights at the M sounds good but adding in $120 or so for resortfees and it isn’t such a great deal anymore.  We don’t currently pay resort fees, but thatoption is getting more difficult to find.

Parking fees are coming back. We stayed at Bally’s and mywife is Diamond so we could valet for free. If not, the rate was $36 a night.At Cromwell, it was $40 a night. I don’t know if hotel guests get free valetparking. So, a free room could still cost you $80 a night for parking andresort fees. Ouch.

I haven’t seen much change in room offers in Las Vegas,which is a good sign.

Also, there are signs that the rental car prices may not besustainable. When we picked up our car at 5:30 PM on Friday of Memorial Dayweekend, there were very few people in the Rent A Car center and there were aton of cars in the lot at Hertz. Given that last minute prices were about $125per day, people must have made other arrangements, used a ride share or usedpublic transportation. I can’t remember ever seeing that many cars in the lot.

Las Vegas has eliminated the ban on surge pricing for Uberand Lyft so hopefully that will encourage more people to return to those jobs.I saw that Turo (basically Air B and B for cars), is doing record business.

What does this all mean? Costs are way up and travel is more work. So far, casino offers areabout the same. Once my companion fare runs out at the end of the year, mytrips for 2022 will decline. For 2021, I will make 6 trips to Las Vegas. For2022, that number will probably be 2. And once I run out of frequent fliermiles, it will go to 1.  For the pastdozen years, airfare has been free, hotels have been free, food has been mostlyfree and rental cars have been reasonable.

My last trip, we had about $2000 in free play to pick up atvarious places. My rental car was $350, cost of gambling was about $500 or $600so the trip had EV of about $1000. If I have to pay more for a rental car andhave to start paying for flights, the EV would be $0 at best. And at thatpoint, I’ll be finding another activity.

I think rental car prices will get closer to normal in 2022.Hopefully, there will be enough frequent flier opportunities to still make sometrips to Las Vegas. If not, it has been a lot of fun for the last 35 years.

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