"The Case with Las Vegas Strip's Parking Fees"

written by Kris Caballero (March 30, 2019)

The voices from Vegas fans are getting louder and louder. To start things off, we have this:

"The Review-Journal's March 24 story about Strip casinos and parking fees did not address how locals have reacted to this rip-off. We simply refuse to pay to park our cars for the pleasure of spending upward of $200 on a meal and then spending more money playing blackjack or the slots.

My wife and I and most of our friends have not gone to any Strip hotel since this charge was put in place, with the exception of Palazzo or The Venetian, which do not charge for parking. We have also increased our trips to frequent the many fine restaurants located in the neighborhood resorts.

While the story claims there is no evidence pointing to a downturn in tourists due to the fees, the same cannot be said about locals."

That open letter was written by Barry Perea to the editor of Las Vegas Review-Journal, in response to their recent reports about parking fees in the Las Vegas Strip. While we could brag about our article making a likely impact on the issue covering Nevada's 2018 fiscal year, it was parking fees which we concluded was the big factor. Since then, local residents of Las Vegas will continue to speak out until the eardrums of the corporate will finally burst, realizing it was one of the worst business decisions in Nevada's history.

Despite the fact that I live and grew up in California all my life, I've had family in Las Vegas to whom we visit periodically, making the city my second home. When things happen in Vegas, it never stays there (not anymore). Once people find out, it's tough to keep secret. Sure, rumors, speculations and "fake" news could brew upon the vagaries that occur in a light-filled energy that keeps people up without the aid of coffee. In other words, there's always something to do in Las Vegas and you can never get bored. Whether it's entertainment or food, they're right around the corner, and while gambling isn't always required when visiting casinos, there's open availability in pressing your luck. Who knows, the raise you weren't able to get may just be a game away. All this fun and experience...and casinos are charging for this fun, ON TOP of the money required to earn this fun. (Casino executives who are reading this are shaking their heads, and cursing us out.)

Just for comparison, let's take Hollywood, California, for example. In Hollywood and Sunset boulevard, it's very much the place where classic films and film history could not have been a more accessible area for locals and tourists alike. However, these places, as open as they are to the public, charge for parking. Why is this acceptable but not Las Vegas Strip? Simple: These streets are within residential areas, so in respect to their areas, they wouldn't want tourists/other locals to hog up their neighborhood streets. Secondly, because these iconic streets are rich with souvenir shops, restaurants, tourist spots, Walk of Fame and some history, parking seems cumbersome explaining why they've architecturally built underground parking. The city's geography can only occupy so much without forcing nearby residents to relocate (think New York City). Because underground parking became the viable solution, it's fair to pay for such service because there aren't much options besides public transit. While spending on the amenities that both Hollywood and Sunset have to offer, one does not have to splurge much to enjoy the beauty, the history and the energy these places have to offer. Perhaps at best, food and some souvenirs are things you may end up going home with.

With that being said, let's compare that with Las Vegas. It's another tourist destination, namely The Strip—a large area that, for the average visitor, may require staying at a hotel to finish exploring the entire street in the second or third day. Given its continuous renovations and growth, casinos on The Strip have A TON of parking spaces that almost never get filled to the max (rarely does that happen, depending on the event and depending on the casino). Because there's a huge amount of things to see, lots of walking and some food to keep your energy up, it can be tiresome but a rewarding experience feeling the vibes of the lights, sound and people. Already, it's costing the visitor food, drinks and hotel fees just to get the feel of The Strip and everything it has to offer; Entertainment and gambling are the secondary options to ease off all that walking and picture-taking—another costly addition. If staying in the hotel room to exhale out all that fatigue is the preferred choice, then Wi-Fi and extra snacks or drinks the hotel room offers is another extra charge. Now that the costs are piling up, you have your car parked in the casino's garage, and currently, there's an extra fee for overnight parking. In fact, parking is given via multi-leveled parking garage (some casinos on The Strip have underground parking but isn't as cramped up as ones in Hollywood). Who would've thought that visiting a place meant you're guaranteed to go broke? You don't hear anyone say, "Hey everyone, I plan to go to Vegas to be broke. I can't wait!"

There are internet memes floating around demanding government to wipe out and forgive student loan debts. It is articles like this that act as megaphones to speak out against the greedy, vitriolic decision over things businesses can shrug off without the worry of extra profiting. The results are coming in and Las Vegas Tourism won't want to see the low numbers in visitation and the millions of dollars lost because of this snarky move. The clock is ticking, Las Vegas, and we're slowly approaching half way through the 2019 year. (Oh, that's right, there are no clocks in Vegas casinos. Oops!)

Casino executives can continue to plug their ears not listening to their customers and members of player's clubs about parking fees. Okay, then when the numbers come in and money is lost, how will you pay for your electricity bill? How many jobs will you cut to save costs?

Nowadays, among consumers, the only way a boycott could be felt is easy: Hit them in their pockets. Money doesn't grow from the ground; It has to be earned from someone, who has earned it from other entity in exchange for their labor. The sad ordeal is this "protest" will affect those who work in casinos, innocently staying above water just like the majority of us. Nevertheless, if consumers are interested in a service or product that's too expensive, you either negotiate, find a cheaper option, wait until the price drops, or, better yet, don't spend at all. (I do this at grocery stores all the time, especially since food and beverages have expiration dates. Better to sell the products than not perpetrating food waste, right?)

If you want your protests/boycotts to be heard, hit the casino executives where it hurts: Their wallets.

SOURCES:
1. [LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL]: Parking fees and Las Vegas tourism