Viva Las Social Media

iphone-vegasLas Vegas, NV — I’m in beautiful Las Vegas so I thought it appropriate to see how social media is being used out in Sin City or how it could be better leveraged.  It’s 107 degrees here and I must have had five hundred people tell me “yeah, but it’s a dry heat.”  True, but it’s still wicked hot.  Speaking of hot, anyone that has flown into Las Vegas knows they are usually greeted with a long wait in the taxi line (think Disney Space Mountain line without the 6-year-olds).

As you know social media takes many forms and the advance of mobile technology is a great enabler of social media and vice versa (for mobile Internet penetration).  Just think how often you look up something on Wikipedia on your phone (usually over an argument or friendly wager – we are in Vegas  ), update your Facebook status, or send someone a tweet.

I still can’t believe they haven’t built a light tram/train in Las Vegas that shuttles from the airport to the Strip.  I know part of it has to do with the strong taxi union here.  Anyhow, I digress.   Since there will be long taxi longs at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport for the foreseeable future, how can social media make this bearable?  Aside from the fact I was able to engage with Facebook and Twitter while I waited in line here’s my thought for a mobile app:

When users approach the daunting taxi line let them enter into a mobile application which hotel they are going to.  You already see the “offline version of this” with people shouted who’s going to Ceasar’s Palace and wants to split a cab!?”  Obviously this takes some onions to be willing to shout this out; no problem for a New Yorker, but maybe not the forte of someone from El Paso.

The mobile application could quickly aggregate 2 people from El Paso and 2 people from the Bronx to share a cab to The Bellagio Hotel.  And for those that don’t see the benefit of social media this example helps showcase the benefit:

  1. Consumers (taxi riders) win as they have reduced their taxi fare by 50%
  2. Environment wins as there are less total taxi rides for the day
  3. Rest of the line wins as it dramatically shortens the taxi line
  4. Airport wins as they need less people to manage the taxi line
  5. More people from different backgrounds meet each other – it is social media afterall

There could very well already be a mobile application for this that I’m not aware of, if this is the case please let me know as I could have used it last night.  Now, I list the four benefits above, however with every winner there is often a loser.  As a result of the increased efficiency from this mobile application there will be less of a need for taxi drivers and workers at the McCarran International airport to handle the line.  However, in net, social media once again comes up aces.

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9 responses to “Viva Las Social Media

  1. Great idea on the app! In regards to the taxi drivers, their need for them to be at the airport would decline, however, wouldn’t they be making more trips instead of waiting in line at the airport?

    • Rashidi: Thanks for contributing to the conversation and you raise a very interesting point. If I save 40 minutes of standing in line at the airport, can I then use that extra/saved time to take a cab somewhere else once I’m on the Strip? I believe you could make a strong argument that some amount of this will occur. Thanks!

  2. I used to drive a taxi cab here in Las Vegas so I can relate very well to what your saying here. Based on randomly asking my passengers “how long was the cab line wait” most usually said on average about 30 minutes, unless there was a major event going on. Not bad considering how many people come through McCarran daily. 3,557,509 July ’09 passenger count.

    As far as your Tram idea goes the monorail, http://www.lvmonorail.com, has talked about expanding to the airport for a while now. But the Monorail has seen one problem after another, from going way over budget when it was built, to operating at a significant loss since day one. The locals oppose this expansion for good reason. It can not even break even after all these years! It only services the east side of “The Strip” is one major problem in my opinion. What WERE they thinking?? How many people want to have to get off, and lug their luggage several normal sized city blocks when its 100 – 115 F in the summer to get to their hotel if the closest stop is not at their hotel? Not very many, think about it. Which is why most business travelers prefer cabs when jumping around the strip so they don’t show up in a suit and tie looking like they just stepped out of the sauna. Now if your staying at the MGM and your going to the LVCC for some convention then its great, no major walking involved. But more times than not the Monorail is more trouble than its worth. Bad planning strikes again.

    I think your mobile Share A Cab idea is great. Although it would hurt cabbies a bit. Then again it would ease up traffic some on the strip which is much needed for all.

  3. Great idea on the app… but in the meantime, the trick to McCarran is to leverage union concessions. When you come down into baggage claim, scope the cab line outside, if it is long, grab a skycap, give him your bag (even if it is just your wheeled carry-on) and a decent tip. Skycaps at McCarran bypass the taxi line and can pull cabs out of the waiting area. a $5 tip will save you 45 mins to an hour.

  4. How about an iphone app. to petition the city to allow a tram built, overpowering the taxi union

    • Jim – now that is leveraging the social graph and something we will see more and more of! Positively influencing governments on the local level.

  5. What a great idea! I too would be interested if it already exsists.

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