Getting around in a new city can be somewhat of a challenge, especially for business travellers entertaining clients. We have found a city website with the right ingredients to guarentee a good time. With it’s friendly slogan ‘it’s who you know’ Vegas.com
is one of the travel industry’s latest success stories.VEGAS.com is the official Vegas travel website, owned by Greenspun Media Group, a multi-media group which specialises in publishing. Aiming to offer reliable, detailed, up to date information about Las Vegas, without relying on heavy discounting as a business model.
Howard Lefkowitz took over as President of VEGAS.com in 2001 after heading internet marketing at Earthlink and being involved in running the telemedia businesses of Home Shopping Network. Under Lefkowitz’s leadership, VEGAS.com has grown from 26 employees to more than 200. It now boasts a call centre, retail operations, a television production company and a number of new innovations.
In his own words, Lefkowitz has strived to create a culture and a team at VEGAS.com that truly addresses the consumers needs: He tells Internet Travel News: “We’ve created a customer-centric culture here at VEGAS.com that dictates every action an employee makes” I am told that the doors in VEGAS.com carry signs that state: “Think Of Yourself As A Customer.” The idea being that with this in mind, employees will consistently deliver.
The company slogan states ‘it’s who you know’ and in a city like Vegas, connections count. This site goes a step further than your average online city guide, offering the hottest tickets in town for the price of a few dollars. Lefkowitz comments: “Vegas is about access - having someone to ‘hook you up’ with a great room, or tickets to a show”.
What makes this possible is the plethora of partnerships which VEGAS.com has struck with hotels, restaurants, airlines, tour operators, bars, shows and clubs to name but a few. I am told that hotel rooms are the most popular section of the site and the largest revenue generator, with air-hotel packages and rooms close behind. Lefkowitz estimates continued growth across the board on the site.
Whilst many hotels are trying to improve their own websites and call centres, VEGAS.com has made such a significant contribution to their bookings that it doesn’t make sense for a hotel not to provide information to VEGAS.com
Lefkowitz reveals: “Our relationship with our travel partners is critical - we view them as customers. We’ve created an entire department devoted to working with our partners to make sure that we know their business and to make sure that they have an advocate inside of VEGAS.com”.
Like Las Vegas itself, the website has it’s ‘sinful side’. VEGAS.com caters for adult entertainment, with a range of raunchy shows, gambling and strip clubs. Lefkowitz comments “Our section is full of useful information that allows people to make an informed decision, and isn’t salacious or done in poor taste”.
In pushing the company to new boundaries the last 6 months has seen the entire site has translated into Spanish: a massive, but important undertaking, which Spanish-speaking customers - who constitute a large and growing market in the US - have responded very favourably to. Other recent developments include the launch of VEGAS.com Visa Card with Frequent Vegas Points as well as the VEGAS.com Box Offices product.
The result has been the most viewed city website in the world. According to Jupiter Media Metrix, VEGAS.com receives approximately1.7 million unique visitors per month,
Lefkowitz believes the exclusive focus on Vegas,com is what brings in traffic and differentiates VEGAS.com from competitors such as Expedia and Travelocity.
However, the conversion rate of lookers to bookers is relatively low at 3% compared with 40% in the call centres, which Lefkowitz attributes to personalised sales at call centres, which translate into sales.
Investing in new technologies to help deliver a superior customer experience, has become a trademark for VEGAS.com. The VEGAS.com group, who operate one of the nation’s largest voice over protocol call centres have just rolled out new point-of-sale technology for their retail operations.
As one of the few players who has managed to ride the wave of the dot com boom Lefkowitz sees the internet and VEGAS.com, as a channel for people to research or book their trip at their own pace. He comments: “The Internet isn’t going to change a hundred years of human behaviour - the Internet is a channel, but this is about making a bold promise to customers and then delivering on that promise”.
For Lefkowitz, it isn’t a single thing that has made VEGAS.com the success that it is today, but thousands and thousands of small components, which are constant: “We’re the Vegas experts, located in Vegas, with booking tools and information centred on Vegas”.
Howard Lefkowitz will be speaking at the World Travel Awards Internet Conference in Barbados, December 13th-14th 2004. Click Here
for more information.