Las Vegas, where "What happens here stays here," is trying to market itself as a serious destination as more companies -- such as banks receiving federal bailouts -- have canceled meetings and conventions.

A full-page ad in a back page of the March 23 and 30 BusinessWeek magazine describes how a "prominent financial firm canceled a meeting in Sin City and moved it elsewhere because of the perception that Las Vegas is a 'fun' trip or an unwarranted extravagance." The ad is paid for by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

"We admit, Las Vegas is more fun than any other place on the planet," the ad continues. "Guilty as charged. However, serious business is done here every day."

So forget the idea that Vegas is a place to hide out, have fun and not have to tell anyone about it. For the folks at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which moved its three-day conference from the Las Vegas Strip to San Francisco in February, the ads such as this one aren't meant for them, or for that matter any of the other companies accepting $10 billion in federal bailout funds, as Goldman did.

Here's a video of an ad that Goldman, Wells Fargo & Co., and other such firms might not want to show their employees after canceling company trips to Las Vegas:


After all, if you can't go to Vegas and expect to tear it up a bit, especially after a convention, why go at all?

Goldman reportedly paid Mandalay Bay $600,000 to cancel its reservation and avoid a public relations nightmare in Vegas.

Other recent cancellations include Wells Fargo, which received $25 billion in a federal bailout, and canceled an employee recognition conference in Las Vegas; and Morgan Stanley took $10 billion from the feds but canceled a trip for top employees to Monte Carlo.

The Las Vegas ad in BusinessWeek points out that it has more meeting space, more convention space and more hotel rooms in a concentrated area than any other destination in the world. "It's the perfect infrastructure for successful meetings," the ad says.

The banks' thinking must be that if they're going to be criticized for spending the taxpayers' money on a business meeting where gambling and drinking go together, then they're better off in San Francisco or any other city where you can't find that fun combination. Bankers are supposed to be somber, fiscally conservative types, after all. Right?

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