By Kaitlyn Wallace
The Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) has always been a hub for innovation and excitement in the meetings and events industry. With 4.6 million square feet of space (2.5 million square feet of which is dedicated to exhibit space), 225 meeting rooms, and 150,000 guest rooms nearby, the LVCC is famous in the meetings and events industry for its size, versatility, and position as a nerve center for conventions stemming from across the United States and the world.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the LVCC has again led the way with a novel approach to convention center transportation. In partnership with the Boring Company, the convention center has recently opened its novel LVCC Loop System, a transit system that reduces a walk across the LVCC’s massive campus from 45 minutes to just 2 minutes. But this is not just any typical shuttle system; instead, the Boring Company undertook the enormous task of constructing two underground tunnels connecting West, Central, and South halls of the convention center, all without disrupting nearby traffic or any scheduled conferences and events. These tunnels, measuring 12 feet in diameter, connect three stations (one above ground, two below) and use all-electric Teslas to transport visitors from station to station. With vehicles travelling around 40 miles per hour, and 62 cars making up the fleet, the Loop System has the capacity to shuttle over 4,000 attendees across the convention center campus per hour, free of charge. Vehicles will first employ drivers with an eventual goal to move to autonomous operation. Despite the massive scope of the project, construction lasted just over one year, backing the Boring Company’s mission for low-cost, fast-to-build transportation solutions.
Of course, the LVCC Loop System will also double as an attraction– it’s located in Las Vegas, after all. With LED lighting and a sleek, modern design, the tunnel system is bound to inspire wonder in attendees and tourists alike. As LVCC representative John Schreiber described: “It’s transportation, it’s efficiency, it’s saving time– all with a Vegas flair… I think it’ll be a major attraction for the future of the Convention Center.”
Of course, this system will be an invaluable draw for the large meetings and events which frequent the LVCC (including, but not limited to, medical meetings and events). Decreasing the commute time across the convention center campus opens up an array of opportunities for bigger events which can now take better advantage of the wide variety of events spaces that the LVCC provides. As John Schreiber discussed: “It makes movement much easier and more efficient. The time you’re spending at the convention center is valuable; you’ve flown or driven to Vegas, booked a hotel room, made your way to the campus– you need to be able to spend your time on campus meeting, networking, doing business. This way, every minute you spend with us is maximized.”
Time is, as we know, a precious resource. Particularly post-COVID, many professionals have grown to value personal time and place new emphasis on boundaries intended to reinforce a sustainable work-life balance. As we slowly transition back to in-person meetings and events, this new balance might be difficult to maintain, driving more and more professionals towards an increased focus on professional efficiency while at work and a disconnect from industry duties when on personal time. This means that technologies like the LVCC loop system, which aims to increase efficiency and to maximize the use on-site professional time, cater to the current demands of shifting industry values and provide a concrete draw to the attendees utilizing them. Technologies like this are likely to become major draws for conventions and events that wish to provide attendees with a fast-paced and effective meeting environment.
And this tunnel system is only the first of many to come in the Las Vegas area. The Boring Company plans to expand the tunnel system throughout the resort corridor in Las Vegas, giving travelers a fun and safe alternative to ride-sharing or taking shuttle systems. Further, the expanded loop system aims to decrease traffic in the highly-congested Vegas Loop, and will extend from the Allegiant Stadium to Vegas’s downtown area, passing through the Strip on the way. Aside from the efficiency, the underground loop system will offer advantages such as low noise levels and freedom from weather-related travel issues.
For convention attendees themselves, the system eventually plans to provide direct A-to-B transportation from hotel partners to the convention center, circumventing unnecessary travel time and adding a Vegas-style charisma to trips between convention destinations. The tunnel system is also likely to lower travel costs, as estimates put the system-wide cost to be higher than bus fare, but significantly lower than an Uber or Lyft. It would also lower the ebb and flow of outsider traffic for Las Vegas locals, making the system attractive across multiple stakeholder groups.
Most importantly, it opens up new opportunities for meetings and event planners. One can imagine expanding large-scale corporate events to different event spaces across the LVCC campus or even across Las Vegas itself. Perhaps smaller groups of attendees would be able to use the transit system to go on organized off-site outings, or to organize after-hours networking events. The expanded loop system will open up not only the Las Vegas Convention Center, but the city of Las Vegas as a meeting space. With countless venues, restaurants, hotels, and more connected by a fast, safe, and innovative transportation system, conventions will be able expand the scope of meetings and events across the city..
So– is this the future of convention center transportation? Or perhaps the future of citywide traffic-reduction technology? As of now, it’s unclear. “It’s got as good a chance as any,” John Schreiber said of the possibility of further expansion, “If we have as much success with the Loop system as we expect to, it’s a strong possibility. As it stands now, it’s a great solution for us, and a huge asset to the industry as well. Efficiency is really important to attendees and travelers, so a system like this is likely to be a great attraction for them.”
The business world is, as usual, expanding rapidly. With the accelerating pace of technology and the increasingly international scope of many business ventures, connection and efficiency are rising to the forefront of corporate principles. Investments of time and energy are increasingly important to keep up and compete with increasingly complex organization structures and rapid means of communication. And that is exactly what the Loop system is meant to combat. Even if only a little, the Loop system gives travelers and attendees back precious time and precious energy– invaluable currency in today’s meetings and events world.
Kaitlyn Wallace is a contributing writer from St. Louis.