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Convention Comeback: Las Vegas visitor numbers surge, workers report return to full employment

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 11:09 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) -Las Vegas convention numbers continue to surge, as different companies and unions report a full return to work for many employees.

According to a recent Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority Jan. report, 305,000 convention visitors came to Las Vegas, a growth of 3,450% from January 2021. The LVCVA reported that with the convention industry at full throttle brought in $10.5 billion in revenue to the Las Vegas economy in 2018.

Businesses like Structure Exhibits, which designs exhibits and builds them, are seeing the overflow of orders and work.

“The industry just picked up so quick, so fast, that clients are scrambling to get new graphics, get new exhibit components,” said John Boyko of Structure, whose operations run seven days a week.

Many companies need new designs, since their last in-person convention may have been in 2019.

Boyko hopes Structure will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, with work orders and with the number of employees, but hiring workers and supply shortages continue to plague the convention industry as well.

“Before the pandemic hit, the cost of a shop-grade sheet of plywood was about $50. Today, it’s about $118. We lost about 60% of those workers when the pandemic hit, and they’ve moved on to other industries,” Boyko said.

For Teamsters Local 631, all convention workers are now back to work.

“The convention group, there’s about 2,000 of them, they got hit the hardest. And they were the last to come back. And it’s good to have them all back,” Tommy Blitsch said.

Blitsch said that conventions are keeping their dates and not cancelling, However, the convention sizes are not what they were pre-pandemic, just yet.

“I think what we’re missing is that international aspect, not just the attendees, but the exhibitors, the booths from other countries. I think that’s what we’re missing right now to finish the comeback to 100%,” Blitsch said.

This week, the CEO of the LVCVA, Steve Hill, predicted a 2023 full return of the convention industry.