Travel Technology Update
There are lots of ways to spend your money in Las Vegas, and they don't all involve losing at blackjack or feeding a one-armed bandit.
A new site, LasVegas.com, unites all that the city has to offer: hotels, resorts, nightlife, Elvis impersonators, spas, sports, restaurants and wedding chapels (hetero or same-sex).
The site also unites a number of technology providers to produce the most comprehensive information and search functions seen to date on a destination Web site.
Erick Rodriguez, president of LasVegas.com, said the site was built on the original LasVegas.com that was operated by the local newspaper.
"It had extensive amounts of data," he said, which the new version retains.
Chicke Fitzgerald, one of the principals of the T²Impact technology consultancy, brought together Worldspan, TRX, Datalex and EPAM to add new functionality and features.
Visitors to the site can book air, hotels (some through direct connection), rental cars, shows and excursions.
They can search by resort type. A search of "spas," for example, turns up top spa properties, a glossary of spa terms and a feature on how men can benefit from spa treatments.
Visitors also can search and book tickets for star performances; they can search by the performer's name or click on the "Shows" tab for a complete list.
Datalex provided its BookIt! Matrix to the site for hotel searches.
Search results are delivered on a grid that compares rates for each available hotel and room type, followed by a detailed description of each property with a breakdown of nightly rates.
EPAM manages the site's content, no small task considering that there are 5,000 pages that need frequent updates.
EPAM is headquartered in Princeton, N.J., but most of its development work takes place in Minsk, Belarus, and in Moscow. The time difference between Las Vegas and the former Soviet Union works to the Web site's advantage: Updates can be turned around literally overnight.
If a customer needs help, a "click to talk" button will keep the customer on the site.
The site already offers packages of every ilk, but currently they are "static" packages, Rodriguez said.
In the first quarter, the site will begin offering dynamic packages. In general, packages require the customer to book by telephone. "When we can't book something online, we 'bridge' you to them," Rodriguez said.