Last month's mass shooting at a country-music festival in Las Vegas has prompted a slowdown in travel bookings to the nation's gambling capital, airline data show.
Data from two organizations that track airline bookings across the world show a notable decline in reservations after the Oct. 1 massacre, compared with the year-earlier period.
The data, though, showed improvement toward the end of last month. While Las Vegas reels from the shooting that killed 58 and injured about 500 more, it is also grappling with economic fallout.
Jim Murren, chairman and chief executive of MGM Resorts International Inc., a major operator on the Las Vegas Strip, alluded to the slowdown on an earnings call this week, saying the October decline will affect fourth-quarter results.
October is “usually one of the strongest months of the year,” Mr. Murren said. “So that is going to impact the fourth-quarter revenues and profitability.” Frequent and casual visitors alike said they have noticed an uptick in Las Vegas discounts and promotions in recent weeks.
Brad Johnson, who usually travels to the city twice a year from Raleigh, N.C., said he added a third trip in December after getting a promotion last month for a $109 a night rate at the Bellagio, plus a $150 food and beverage credit. “The deal was everything,” he said.
Airlines Reporting Corp., which tracks more than 65% of all passenger-airline transactions around the world, found that ticket sales in the 28 days after the Oct. 1 shooting were down an average of 4.5% from a year earlier. By comparison, ticket sales in the 28 days before the shooting were up more than 10% from the prior year.
ForwardKeys, another data provider that tracks airline bookings around the world, analyzed slightly different time periods but came to the same conclusion.
In the eight weeks before the shooting, international bookings to Las Vegas were up 2%, compared with a year earlier, whereas in the three weeks after, bookings fell by 16% year-over-year. For domestic bookings, Forward- Keys found reservations were down 7% from the year before in the eight weeks before the shooting, then fell 21% in the following three weeks.
“The immediate reaction is an emotional reaction of saying ‘You know what, it's not a good time to go there,' ” said Olivier Jager, chief executive of ForwardKeys. “It's obvious that the situation is going to come back to normal. The only thing that is unknown is when.”
Data for both ForwardKeys and Airlines Reporting Corp. showed a sharp decline in bookings in the days immediately after the shooting, followed by a gradual recovery in the following weeks.
Official visitation numbers won't be available until later this month from the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. The group's chief executive, Rossi Ralenkotter, said there have been no convention cancellations since the shooting, nor has the pace of new bookings slowed down.
“If you go downtown, if you go on the Strip, the sense you get is that it's very busy,” he said.
Other casino companies, including Caesars Entertainment Corp., Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd., said they don't expect any long-term impact on visitation.
Mr. Murren, of MGM Resorts, said the company saw about twice as many cancellations as usual after the shooting, but bookings “remarkably returned to normalized levels by mid-October.” The company expects its Las Vegas Strip revenue to decline by about 5% or less in the fourth quarter.
He attributed the decline to the company's pullback in marketing spending: MGM stopped all marketing for its Strip properties for about a week and a half.
Weekly flight bookings to Las Vegas, change from a year earlier:
BY CHRIS KIRKHAM