Vegas: a catalyst for innovation

Ahead of the 90th UFI Global Congress 1-4 November 2023, Lisa Messina (pictured below), chief sales officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), took EW on a journey of exploration of this extraordinary destination.

Please share some insights into the strategies you’ve employed to position Las Vegas as a premier destination for hosting business events?

Lisa messinaI try to ensure that when I talk about the destination, I highlight the number of rooms and sheer amount of meeting space that allow for easy planning and hosting, but also the other elements that really set us apart. The A-list entertainment residencies, world-class dining, extraordinary night life, incredible sporting events.

No other city in the world can offer what we do in terms of energy and excitement and those factors absolutely contribute to why it’s smart to do business here in Vegas.

Also, the constant reinvestment in our community. The Las Vegas Convention Canter West Hall expansion and the upcoming North/Central Hall renovations, the opening of new properties and venues like Resorts World Las Vegas, Fontainebleau, and the Sphere, along with investments in infrastructure like the Las Vegas Loop.

The destination being what it is and always offering new and exciting experiences for our guests, striving to innovate and push industries forward is why we see close to a 10% jump in attendance when events and conferences are held here.


Las Vegas has successfully hosted numerous high-profile business events. What unique advantages does the city offer compared to other major event destinations?

Las Vegas is uniquely equipped to handle events of any size, style, and purpose due to the sheer availability of accommodations and venues.  The destination offers over 150,000 hotel rooms and over 1m sqm of meeting and event space providing immense flexibility.

Add in an ever-evolving roster of entertainment and sporting options, world renowned dining, unique attractions, and outdoor excursions, it’s easy to see why Vegas remains a top choice for meetings and events year after year. 


The F1 Grand Prix is a significant addition to Las Vegas’s event calendar. How do you envision this event contributing to the city’s appeal as a global business hub?

F1 is wildly popular on the international stage and being able to host our very own race underlines that Las Vegas is a premier international destination capable of attracting visitors from every corner of the world.

International travellers make up a crucial segment of the overall Las Vegas visitation each year. So being able to offer more events that appeal to a variety of markets is exciting and key to the continued success of the destination.

Not only is the Las Vegas Grand Prix the largest event on the Las Vegas calendar, it’s one of the most anticipated events in the world of sports. These races typically attract 500k+ attendees with millions more watching from around the world so we are keenly aware that all eyes will be on the city.

We plan to showcase the destination by doing what we do best, hosting a next-level event unlike anyone has ever seen. Not only will the race take place at night along the world-famous Strip, but the experience will be elevated with touches of ‘Only Vegas’ elements.


The UFI Global Congress is a highly anticipated event in the exhibition industry. Could you tell us what it means for LVCVA to host this prestigious congress?

Here at the LVCVA, along with all our resort partners, we are thrilled to be able to host so many of the industry’s leaders, top executives, and professionals in Vegas. The exhibition industry is integral to the destination at large, so it makes hosting such an important event that much more special.


What kind of impact do you foresee the UFI Global Congress having on the city’s reputation as an events destination and its standing within the global exhibition sector?

Hosting this event is a testament to Las Vegas’ capabilities as a top destination for business and we trust everyone who attends this year’s congress will walk away with a better understanding of what the destination offers, having experienced our world-renowned hospitality first hand.   


The UFI Global Congress is an opportunity for professionals in the exhibition sector to network and exchange insights. How do you plan to showcase Las Vegas’s unique offerings and facilities to these industry leaders?

Las Vegas is unique for many reasons but one aspect that makes our city so great for events like this is that we have so much going on in just a few-mile radius. So, if attendees are staying at the ARIA where the congress is being hosted, they can easily explore that stellar property or head down the street to check out any number of amazing hotels, over-the-top nightclubs, or catch one of the A-list headliners that now call Vegas home.


How do you think this event will contribute to the growth and advancement of the exhibition sector not only in Las Vegas but also across the United States?

It’s always important to get people together to share ideas, collaborate, learn, and make connections. By bringing leaders, change-makers, and passionate professionals together in one place, it moves an industry forward.


Las Vegas is constantly evolving, so what exciting new developments can UFI delegates look forward to experiencing in the city?

There is so much to explore and discover here in Vegas. We have several new hotels that have opened in the last few years including Circa Resort & Casino located downtown, Resorts World Las Vegas and Virgin Hotels, located at the former Hard Rock Hotel location. All of which have a long list of restaurants, venues, and entertainment to check out.

I also recommend delegates experience the Sphere while here. Opening in late September with a residency by U2, this technologically advanced venue is set to change the way we do entertainment with the highest-resolution LED screen on Earth, advanced acoustics and an infrasound haptic system that will allow guests to feel sound. The exterior is also wrapped with 53,883sqm of programmable lighting, which has taken the internet by storm when it was lit for the first time this past July.


Finally, could you summarise the broader vision that LVCVA has for Las Vegas’s role in the global business events landscape and how events like the UFI Global Congress align with that vision?

Our vision for Las Vegas is to continue to deliver on our reputation as the number one destination for meetings and events. To continually evolve, innovate and surprise our visitors with something new and exciting each time they visit. 

We strive to be the best at what we do, whether that’s serving the most mouth-watering meal a guest has ever had, seeing a mind-blowing act on stage, or attending a meeting or conference that changed the way they do business. 

Hosting an event like the UFI Global Congress aligns with that vison because you are bringing together the best of the best to innovate, challenge and evolve, much like Vegas itself. We strive to be a catalyst for inspiration and exploration.