This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto", February 18, 2004, that was edited for clarity.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: If you think Las Vegas (search) hotels rely mostly on maybe gamblers for income, you might want to think again. It is the convention business that’s drawing more food, room and beverage revenues than ever before. Our next guest says this new trend is attracting more guests than there are rooms.
With us now is Rob Goldstein. He is the president and COO of the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino.
Good to have you, sir.
ROB GOLDSTEIN, VENETIAN RESORT PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good to be here.
CAVUTO: Your rooms they’re size of football fields. And you’ve got like thousands of them, right?
GOLDSTEIN: You’re very kind. Four thousand of them, to be exact.
CAVUTO: Four thousand?
GOLDSTEIN: Four thousand. A few more, actually.
CAVUTO: They’re all suites, right?
GOLDSTEIN: They’re all suites.
CAVUTO: And they’re all apparently occupied.
GOLDSTEIN: They are usually occupied, about 96-97 percent of the time, yes.
CAVUTO: What is the deal? What’s going on?
GOLDSTEIN: Vegas has emerged beyond gaming. It’s not gaming-centric anymore. It’s for everybody, spa, museums, golf, shopping. It’s a very diverse market, and we are very fortunate in Las Vegas not to be dependent on any one business. We have multiple businesses. As you mentioned, the convention business.
CAVUTO: Yes. One of the things I’ve noticed -- and I go to Vegas fairly often -- is that you see the mix changing. You’re seeing more kids; you’re seeing more families.
CAVUTO: And you are seeing a lot of these people who haven’t an interest at all in gambling.
CAVUTO: So when we are concerned about the gambling industry, you kind of just threw your nose at it and said, that’s not the bread and butter.
GOLDSTEIN: Sheldon Adelson, the guy I work for, the chairman of our company, was the one who really said there is a major market beyond gaming; don’t be gaming-centric. We accept gaming; it is an important part of our business mix.
But frankly, the rooms, food and beverage component is extraordinary this year. We’re seeing sales -- rooms, food and beverages probably $600 million (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Pretty extraordinary.
CAVUTO: Yes. You’re going to keep the breakfast buffets going, right?
GOLDSTEIN: We don’t have a buffet in the Venetian.
CAVUTO: All right. See, that’s the problem. That’s the problem.
GOLDSTEIN: We just opened...
CAVUTO: Right. So you’ve got $1.99 for the breakfast buffets across the street. You’re saying no.
GOLDSTEIN: We don’t have that, no.
CAVUTO: Let me ask about what is going on here, though, economically. If the convention business is back, and all anecdotal evidence clearly suggests you’re right that it is, it’s all built on this economy coming back.
CAVUTO: And there are many, including a lot of the Democratic candidates running for president, who argue that it is, at best, short- lived and a head fake. Are you seeing anything that looks like a head fake to you?
GOLDSTEIN: If that’s true, we don’t see it in Las Vegas. Our business is extraordinary, not just in the Venetian, but the whole town I think will have a very, very strong first quarter. We don’t see head fakes. We see legitimate people spending real dollars, and business is strong.
CAVUTO: But they’re willing to spend premium dollars, too. Because I notice when it comes to hotel bookings and who’s doing very well...
CAVUTO: ... it’s you guys; it’s Bellagio; it’s Paris; Bally’s. The hotels that are not necessarily the cheapest on or near the strip.
GOLDSTEIN: That’s a very interesting point. I think Vegas for years was a value market. It’s still a value market. You stay at the Venetian, a phenomenal hotel, for, you know, a couple, a few hundred dollars a night.
But I think what emerges is people come to Las Vegas want a better place to stay, they want a better restaurant, they want a better shopping experience. They want better golf. And what has happened in Las Vegas is the bar has been raised, and better things can attract more customers and better customers, more spending.
CAVUTO: You know, there was a concern, Rob, not too long ago that there was overbuilding going on; too many rooms chasing relatively too few customers.