This is a Rant. Hold on to Your Seats.

Aria High-Limit
Aria High-Limit Lounge

While my original birthday plans had been to leave The Day Job™ early and take Uber to the Aria for the invitation-only wine tasting event, the reality of reports, meetings, and other torture work got in the way, and I ended up leaving at my regular time.

That worked out okay because it gave me the opportunity to experience the MGM-mandated parking fee experience first hand.

Oh my. Who in their right mind thought that this was a good idea?!? And why in the world would they implement it at the ARIA for goodness’ sake? Don’t people already pay enough?

Winding into the self-park area takes you to an unavoidable slope where the parking push-button machine is located. You push the button and it spits out a bar-coded card that apparently has the time and date of your arrival. And then comes the fun part.

Some dimwit thought that placing this parking meter at the top of a slope that is rivaled only by Lombard Street was a great idea. Caution to anyone who drives a stick – DO NOT GO TO THE ARIA – that is, unless you want to roll back into the unwitting person behind you or burn out your clutch. I drive automatic. I set the car into Park so that I could reach the card, and then shifted into Drive before going over the hump. The few inches the car rolled was a little unnerving, but we made it okay. As I stated before, I would never drive a stick (that’s a manual transmission to those who have never seen it) because that’s an accident waiting to happen.

After parking and being sure to take my ticket with me – there are über tacky signs everywhere telling you to do so – I made my way towards the elevator banks.  While walking with my friends Steve and Vashti Roebuck, we ran into a couple of people visiting from Los Angeles.  Their response to the new parking fees?

How People Really Feel

Outraged.

As the young lady of the couple stated – “We come here to go to shows, spend money at the restaurants, spend a lot on rooms and at the tables, and tip well. This feels like extortion.” They “used” to like coming to Vegas. Now, not so much.

Oh my. I don’t know if they’ll be back because they feel ripped off. It’s kind of like the last straw. She looked truly pissed.

Institutionalizing Tackiness

Tacky parking sign at the Aria.
Do you believe that this sign (and more like them) are at the ARIA?!? smh. Tacky.

After the tasting and dinner, I returned to the self-parking garage. Once again, there were the über tacky signs everywhere asked me if I had paid yet. Ah. So that’s the reason the “be sure to take your ticket with you” signs were everywhere on the way out. They want to make sure that you pay them their tribute. Or shakedown.

As I stated in a previous post, I’d only go to the Strip if I had to for business or for an important, specific reason, and that night was an example.  I won’t go there for fun. There are too many other places to go to where I can easily and happily avoid the Strip.

An Old-Timer’s (Me) Advice & Observations

Birthday Cake at Todd English at the Aria.
Birthday Cake at Todd English at the Aria.

Here’s what I think they can do to keep people from bailing on the Strip altogether.

As I mentioned before, Downtown Vegas has paid parking. The difference is that you take your ticket into the casino and you can get it validated right away. And then go have fun spending your money. Why do they do it that way? I actually don’t know, but I don’t have a problem with it. You may have to search for the validation stations somewhere, but they’re there, and it takes seconds.

The Strip casinos need to give permanent free parking to locals. Period. Without the extra requirement of applying for a credit card for the privilege. Yes, in order to get free parking, you have to get an MGM credit card. Tacky.

Without locals enthusiastically bringing friends and relatives to the casinos, and without businesses using casinos as bases for conferences, the casinos will lose money.

Along those lines, having validation machines around so that people who are coming there to spend money can have a place to get the parking ticket validated.

At The Day Job™I am an administrator of several systems.  As the administrator, I attend an occasional conference or two for training.  One of my favorite companies whose product we use throughout the county for IT training will be having their conference here in April. They were surprised to learn of the new parking fees. They have a lot of people coming to train and be trained, and they suddenly find themselves saddled with a new expense that will no doubt be passed on to the customer.

No Bueno.

It will be interesting to see what they decide to do in upcoming years. They are already contractually obligated for this year’s conference, but if it proves to be too much of an added expense, they may seek other venues. Which may or may not be in Vegas.

Julian Serrano Tapas! Sigh!
Julian Serrano Tapas! Sigh!

The people who used to be in charge of Las Vegas, aka The Mob, knew how people thought and acted. They knew how to cater to people who visited and spent their hard-earned money without thinking about it. Now, with the parking fees, The Mob that’s currently in charge is clueless and is only thinking about how to further line their already well-lined pockets no matter the multi-syllabic poor excuse for an explanation they may give. The idea of alienating their customer base has obviously either never occurred to them or was brushed away as a mere inconvenience. The upshot is that people are no longer enjoying themselves but are watching their budgets. To paraphrase a line from A League of Their Own – “There’s no budgeting in Vegas!”

We’re not the only ones who are irritated – and/or angry – about the parking fees.  Below are a few of the many links that will show you that this is more than just a local concern.

Parking Fees at Hotels in Las Vegas: Fair Game – or Going Too Far? (Boarding Area – The Gate)

5 Resorts to Help You Transition Away from the Vegas Strip (Travel Vegas)

MGM’s Pay to Park Plan Irks Vegas Locals, Tourists, and Valet Drivers (Casino Times)

Las Vegas Residents are Outraged that Free Parking is Disappearing on the Strip (LA Times)

There Goes Tradition: Las Vegas Strip Casinos Start Charging for Parking (Washington Post)

Free Las Vegas attractions? Not when you factor in parking (CDC Gaming Reports)

And there are many reviews on TripAdvisor and other travel sites telling people to beware of Vegas and the extortion-level parking fees. And don’t get me started on the “resort fees.” I’m betting that the casinos think that people will get used to it. I’m also betting that people will find other ways to spend their hard-earned, discretionary money. I certainly am.

 

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