Las Vegas, Takes the Lead in Experience Economy
--October 2008: Issue 27 of City Reading II

  If a person longs to visit Florence every year, you may guess that he has an ancient complex.
  If a person longs to visit New York every year, you may guess that he yearns for extravagant lifestyle.
  If a person longs to visit Las Vegas every year, what kind of person do you think he is?
  A gambler! You may say so.

  But I have never gambled before and have no interest in gambling. However, I yearn to visit Las Vegas every year.

  Las Vegas is reputed to be the most famous gambling city. However, it is more than gambling and listed as one of the major MICE cities in the world. What attracts me most is that it is a city for great experience. 
In the field of economics, economy is becoming a pop term for describing new economic patterns such as spiritual economy, headquarter economy, recreation economy and experience economy. Seattle of the State of Washington is noted for headquarter economy while Las Vegas of the State ofNevada takes the lead in experience economy.  
  The most exciting part of Las Vegas is Las Vegas Boulevard. From Spring Mountain Road to Tropical Rain Forest Road, there are Top 10 hotels, namely Bellagio, Caesars Palace, New York New York, Luxor Hotel & Casino, Treasure Island, Mirage Hotel, Paris Las Vegas, The Venetia, MGM Grand and Aladdin, which narrate ten stories and establish ten architectural styles. Strolling along Las Vegas Blvd., you may have a chance to experience the grand world, diversified culture, brand-name commodities and extravagant lifestyles by visiting the imposing buildings here  apart from casinos. It is worth mentioning that there is a stretch of indoor commercial pedestrian street in all these hotels. They should be referred to as passages. 

  What is the origin of these passages? Nevada is a state in desert and Las Vegas used to look very bleak and serve as a courier station between Utah and California. In 1905, it was officially named Las Vegas. It was gambling that changed the fate of Las Vegas. Actually, Las Vegas has gradually developed into a world of casino since 1931 when the Nevada government announced legal gambling. In addition, Hoover Dam Construction Program implemented in 1928 played a decisive role in promoting the development of Las Vegas by ensuring power supply in Las Vegas. It was the coexistence of gambling, electricity and desert that contributed to the original passage design in all the hotels. Las Vegas developed unique passage design by transplanting outdoor landscape indoors. In detail, passage design refers to creating visional outdoor settings such as brilliant sunshine, blue sky, white cloud, shining light and shady trees in hotels by means of artificial lighting and air conditioning. All in a word, passage is designed for creating an illusion to cross the boundary between indoor settings and outdoors landscapes. As a result, tourists may feel as if they were freely roaming outside, though they stay in the  hotels and escape from the hot weather outside. It is stupid to try to change the outdoor weather in the desert but it is possible to improve the indoor environment using money made from gambling. It is wise for Americans to respect nature instead of conquering it.
  Passage design featuring pleasant settings gains in popularity among hotels in Las Vegas, in which mankind stretch great imagination to create a good number of experience economy modes. After entering the passage in The Venetian, you will discover that even the well-known Venetian Canal and St. Mark's Square in Venice have been transplanted here and real Italian operas sung by Italian performers are in the background. Passage in the hotel Paris seems like an ancient and elegant European street. Passage in Aladdin called Desert Passage is a shopping street around casinos and art centers, where over 130 stores open up. It is reputed to be the largest boutique street in Las Vegas. With the lifelike landscape settings of Middle East style, the blue sky, white clouds and the sunshine alternation of every hour, tourists may have a chance to go sightseeing and enjoy the beautiful landscape. It is worth mentioning that there is a pond over which it thunders, lightens and rains every hour, creating a cool environment in Las Vegas where it seldom rains. As walking along the passage and listening to the sound of wave and seagull from the background music, you may feel you have returned to the magical ancient Middle East world. It is amazing that Las Vegas introduces modern business to the ancient Arab stories rooted in the myths a Thousand and One Nights.

  Before economists introduced the concept of experience economy, Las Vegas had taken the lead in business pattern owing to the huge profits from the gambling industry. It is a desert city where tourists can enjoy cultural experience and seek for happiness beyond wealth. Residents here have created an indoor business environment for people to escape from the outdoor harsh environment. In fact, Las Vegas is the city deserving exploring. After choosing a hotel and staying there for several days, you will have a new impression on Las Vegas by observing the passage, attending the performances and feeling the details. Such indoor passage pattern has been widely emulated by large hotels in Macao, Hotel Via Cannaregio in Shenzhen and even the underground of Empark Grand Hotel in Beijing. Nevertheless, it is Las Vegas, the pioneering city of experience economy that invented the passage pattern.