1.4 The best time to visit Las Vegas
While you can come and go to Las Vegas any time you wish, it is customary to go either for the long weekend or during the week. That is, the seven day week is split into two portions ...three night and a four night stays. That means Thursday through Sunday (weekend - 3 nights), or Sunday through Thursday (weekday - 4 nights.)
Hotel room prices tend to be higher on the weekend so the cost of three weekend nights usually costs as much - and frequently more - than four weekday nights. But there is absolutely no difference in quality between weekend/weekday visits since all entertainment, shows, attractions and tours operate all week long.
Some shows have "dark" days - meaning a night off - but they are intentionally staggered so that weekday visitors get to see them. (And some shows go on an annual vacation for a week or so.) But dark days are well publicized. Seeing shows during the week has never been a problem for us. The worst that can happen is you may have to switch a "dark Monday" show to one that is "dark Tuesday."
Room rates - like every other commodity - is based on supply and demand. The higher the demand, the higher the price. A promotional $69-$89 priced room during non-peak times can (and does) skyrocket to $399-$599 on New Year’s eve.
Las Vegas - with its 9 million square feet of exhibit space - hosts more conventions than any other city in the U.S ...a lot more! More than 4.5 million conventioneers meet in Las Vegas annually. It is hard to believe, but the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) reports that Vegas hosts more than 18 thousand conventions annually. That is nearly 350 a week!
While Las Vegas has 150,000 rooms, when the big ones are in town, hotel rooms cost much more ...or are unavailable. Rates can double or triple. You’ll want to steer clear of the city during these times ...or resort to other options. More on this later.
For example, the gigantic International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) runs in January with more than 100,000 attendees). The construction industry’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG convention will pull in 135,000 conventioneers in March. The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) will have 132,000 visiting Las Vegas in April ...and so on.
Some conventions rotate from city to city ...or are new to Las Vegas. You can imagine the impact of these conventions on room rates!
In addition, Las Vegas hotels and convention sites host hundreds of smaller conventions every week during the year and the total attendee numbers can mount up. And a specific hotel can host a convention during an otherwise slack time. So the question becomes, how do you know when the larger conventions are in town (or smaller ones selling out a specific hotel), when surplus rooms are available ...or the best time to vacation in Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) has an online Convention Calendar which lists most of them ...along with the site and the number of anticipated attendees. You will find it here, month by month convention dates and more.
Over the years, however, I have found the best way to determine when to vacation in Las Vegas at a reasonable cost is to check the "availability calendars" and "web specials" established by the various hotels and travel services. They know when there is more pressure to fill rooms and have done all your research work for you. Be aware that the prices listed in these calendars can fall as you get closer to your planned departure date ...indicating that a hotel needs to sell more rooms. So it is a good idea not to book vacations more than 60 days in advance.
These calendars also have another use. After you check a few of them, you will learn which days are the best room value days in Las Vegas. You can use this information as ammunition to check what other online travel companies have to offer during the same weeks.
As a general rule, I don’t want to pay more than $100 a night (preferably less) – $150 a night per person for a "package" if airfare is included. And I want to stay in the better ...and preferably best - hotels. I also want to arrive and leave when I want to. This eliminates a lot of flights since many airline prices are geared to the historic Las Vegas 3:00 p.m. check-in and noontime check-out time. Again, supply and demand.
In my opinion, the best hotel room value can be had with a 4 night/5 day (Sunday through Thursday) trip. So let’s keep that in mind as we continue our hotel (or vacation package) booking effort. We will narrow down the hotels you should consider in Chapter 3 ...and how to get them at a discount price.