Yesterday’s half-price ticket broker has restored the human element to an industry that’s gone sterile. In this era of self-service kiosks and internet shopping, that’s a welcome change.
If you’re like me, you have fond memories of walking to the nearest Tix4Tonight booth and excitedly watching the list of available shows scroll by. Will Celine Dion be performing tonight? Is Cirque du Soleil’s latest offering a deal? Wow, Roseanne Barr is at Sahara Hotel for only $24? Count me in!
Those were the days before smartphones and discount online sellers like Vegas.com and TicketKite. Planning your evening’s entertainment was like a visit to the flea market…and part of the adventure. Staffers were eager to offer educated suggestions, give you tips on how to get to your destination, and maximize your time with nearby dining and supplemental entertainment options.
Tix4Tonight was an easy-to-find, one-stop shop for fun. It satisfied our need for a multi-service Vegas concierge. And we took it for granted, myself included.
In September of 2021, I penned this piece on the collapse of Tix4Tonight. The article essentially called the company irrelevant in today’s market, dismissing its efforts to recover from bankruptcy:
“The once-popular discount ticketer seems to have gone the way of dial-up internet, as online services have made it much easier to obtain entertainment discounts. Thrifty tourists have seemingly tired of Tix4Tonight‘s outdoor walk-up counters, which necessitate standing in the intense heat while being inundated with questions from staffers and attempts at upselling.” – VEGAS 411, 9/7/21
A funny and somewhat ironic thing happened since that article was published. Our image as a service-oriented destination has suffered a massive downfall. Las Vegas is now often viewed as a place to be ripped off, inconvenienced, and left to your own devices. And you’ll be waiting in lines for a large portion of your visit as staffing issues continue to plague the industry.
How bad has service gotten in Las Vegas? Check out this recent VEGAS 411 expose by Gunnar McDixie. Our investigative correspondent was unable to receive a room assignment at a CAESARS property until after 10 pm, despite having checked in online fifteen hours previously.
A bank of self-service kiosks and CAESARS automated concierge service “IVY” were absolutely no help. The overworked reservation clerk he eventually spoke to was as surly as a rabid pit bull. A bit of a tangent from the Tix4Tonight, but you’ll see where I’m going with this.
On August 4th, 2021, Tix4Tonight announced its return from the pandemic shutdown with a new name, reduced hours, and fewer locations:
“We are now open at three of our previous locations… Showcase Mall (11-5 pm), Bally’s Grand Bazaar (11-7 pm), and Casino Royale (11-7 pm). Our new name is Tix4Vegas, offering shows, tours, and attractions at all levels from discount to premium! Stay tuned for more information as we rebound and restart our business…!”
Twenty days later, the rebranded Tix4Vegas announced a Chapter 11 filing for bankruptcy protection. Their optimistic return had suddenly turned grim. That’s where the company’s Chief Operating Officer Jason Kuntzelman becomes part of the story:
“I was a director that managed our company’s software and inventory for nearly sixteen years. At the end of Chapter 11, assets were sold at auction to new owners. As a result, all former upper management resigned immediately (except for me).”
“I was in a very awkward position as I wanted to see the company get back to “normal”. The staff that returned when we reopened truly needed to keep their jobs. So many businesses have traded staff for automation. Many of our staff have worked for the company for over 10-12 years. I felt that they deserved someone to advocate for them.”
Shuttered stores like this one at Grand Bazaar Shops sustained heavy graffiti and damage
Tasked with restructuring by a new team of directors and investors, Kuntzelman realized that in order to be viable once more, Tix4Vegas would need to fill a void. In this case, it was the absence of personalized service, a chasm that continues to widen and deepen in nearly every industry.
Lifelong Vegas resident Tracie Farmer is the Administrative Manager of Tix4Vegas. A former T4T associate, she was brought back by Kuntzelman as his number two. Together they created what the company is now:
“Jason opted to stay on and reinvent how we did business in this industry. It was scary,” Tracie told VEGAS 411. “But when the mission is to maintain relationships with real people in an industry that was changing, to stand by him while he was determined to keep people working, and give a longtime Vegas company a makeover while trying to keep Vegas hospitality alive… I knew I was all in.”
A Tix4Vegas booth next to Casino Royale was one of the first to reopen
The focus on “hospitality” in a hospitality-driven industry should seem like a no-brainer, but as I described in the opening, it’s on life support. Companies have forgotten that for many patrons, the opportunity to do things “old school” has a value that often exceeds the savings on a discounted show ticket. Ms. Farmer continues:
“Our Tix staff is able to address many issues our international guests run into when they visit. Often these guests do not have international roaming on their cells and have no ability to digitally receive tickets. Some visitors do not want to pay international credit card fees and prefer paying cash.”
“Many, international or not, are still coming to Las Vegas with cash in hand and finding it difficult to access entertainment. Without a live agent to help them with this process, they don’t know where to begin.”
“We offer multiple reps that are Spanish speakers, and even a handful that can communicate in German, Cantonese, Mandarin, and ASL. Guests are often relieved to find a staff that is patient and accommodating when there is a language barrier.”
This location across from New York NY benefits from thousands of walk-by tourists each day
Once-popular names like MySpace, Napster, and Circuit City failed in their attempts to reinvent, but so far, Tix4Vegas seems to have found a formula for success. Three pre-pandemic locations are prospering, and a fourth just opened a few weeks ago inside Circus Circus.
“The new focus for Tix4Vegas continues with a much-needed service-oriented business model. Days of deep discounts and “$1.99 Steak and Eggs” are long gone,” Kuntzelman stresses. “As we look around, we see that many businesses have gravitated to online-only or kiosks to cut expenses. I get it, but people need work. Thankfully, we were able to bring back former employees like Tracie Farmer. She was invaluable during a very difficult transition.”
A drastically-downsized office and management team have afforded T4V the opportunity to financially succeed under the new approach. As a result, significant service enhancements are about to be unveiled. Kuntzelman elaborated on a few:
“We have been developing new software as our current proprietary software is very old. This will allow us to integrate with our suppliers in real-time pricing and inventory…to expand our offerings and services.”
A new Circus Circus store is located across from Adventuredome on the second-level promenade
“We recently opened a fourth store in the growing area near Resorts World and Fontainebleau. While we are open to more locations, we need to be more strategic. We also plan on resuming online sales…not to reduce staff, but rather to compliment our flagship stores that feature in-person service.”
Cautious optimism in an ever-changing industry is, like hospitality itself, a no-brainer. It should be interesting to watch what happens in the months and years ahead. But as Tracie Farmer made it clear, an insider resource at your vacation destination can feel like having an old friend.
“Tix4Vegas is still a smiling face that is happy to see you. We know what to see, where to park, what to eat, where to take your kids or your grandma, and what you can’t miss! Service should come with the welcoming smile of an actual person. Tix is about the guest experience you get from friendly face-to-face interaction. Don’t we all miss that?
Tiz4Vegas is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm daily (subject to change). Tickets can be purchased over the phone Monday through Friday between 10 am and 6 pm by calling 702.212.8500. Click here for a complete list of locations.