The news out of Las Vegas these days is grim: Visitor counts are down, casino revenue is falling, and all that despite superlow discount offers by big-name hotels.

But there’s one bright spot. Sales of last-minute discount tickets for spectacles, performances and concerts at the gambling capital’s glitzy towers are flying higher than a Cirque du Soleil acrobat.

And that’s been a boon for Mitch Francis’ Studio City company, Tix Corp. That’s because Tix makes its profits from selling tickets to Vegas shows at 25 to 50 percent less than the face value through its seven retail storefronts that dot the city’s strip or its Web site.

Scott Russell, a Henderson, Nev.-based board member of the Travel and Research Association, said the economy has turned more travelers into last-minute bargain hunters and companies like Tix are reaping the benefits.

“The traditional means of looking at discretionary travel have changed,” Russell said. “People used to purchase travel for vacations 90-plus days out and that’s changed. People are looking to get the same deal three weeks or three days out.”

While the company has also moved into show production in a big way, its profit base still comes from its ticket division.

Tix ticket sales are up despite the Vegas downturn. The city’s visitor count was down 6 percent from January through July compared with the same period last year.

“We’ve been able to buck the trend of Las Vegas,” said Francis, founder and chief executive of Tix. “There has been a decline in the number of people going to Vegas, but those who are coming are seeking value.”

Meanwhile, the company’s expansion into show business – Tix purchased two production companies last year – is boosting revenue, although the live entertainment division isn’t profitable yet.

Tix, which trades on the Nasdaq, reported a 58 percent increase in revenue to $26.6 million for the quarter ended June 30, compared with $16.9 million for the same period last year. The company’s ticketing division reported a 39 percent revenue increase to $4.7 million, compared with $3.4 million for the same period last year. The company’s total net income for the quarter was $659,000, compared with a net loss of $1.2 million for the same quarter last year when Tix acquired the two production companies.

The boom times for Las Vegas lasted from 2002 to 2007. During that period, visitor counts increased by 12 percent, the average room rate increased by 72 percent and gaming revenue increased by 42 percent. Tourists were spending money on the lavish hotel rooms, celebrity-owned restaurants and other entertainment.


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