There IS such a thing as a free lunch – when you’re comped in Vegas!

Something that is quite unique to the whole Vegas experience is the idea of comping. This is when a business will provide something to someone for free in the hope of generating loyalty and extra business.

This happens in a number of ways on a number of scales. In all the casinos on the strip there are massive car parks which are free. Completely free. Even the valet parking is free, although you should tip the valet a dollar or two at both ends. Can you imagine free parking in the centre of London? Or even cheap parking? An hour can cost upwards of £4, yet you can leave your car for hours here. And why? So that people come. Simple as that! Make it easy for people to get to you (and bear in mind that public transport is pretty poor) and they will drive.

Once you’ve parked up and got down to the casino floor, the next part of the comping begins. As long as you are playing slots or table games like blackjack or poker, beautiful waitresses in few clothes (that was my experience of it) will bring you drinks. All night. The more you tip them, the quicker they will come back to offer a refill. I found that a $1 tip on a bottle of Blue Moon would see the waitress pop along in half an hour, just in time for me to need a refill or have lost all my chips. You could have anything you liked; water, coffee, or spirits. A good friend went with her husband over the festive period and drank champagne at the roulette wheel, all for a $1 tip!

So your parking is free, and your drinks have been free, so you decide to stay the night. I had paid for the basic room at the Hard Rock Hotel, but on arrival was upgraded to a junior suite. Whilst not technically a comp, I got upgrades in both the hotels I stayed at, and it is quite common.

I said in an earlier post of my friends Caron and Louisa are regulars. Caron has been coming here several times a year for the last 20 or so years, and she thinks she has been well over 100 times. They don’t even need to pay for their rooms, as they have Casino Hosts in a number of places who they get in touch with when they have booked flights with their dates, and the host sorts them out with rooms. Free of charge. On the house. In one place where I drank, dined and gambled with them, they charged everything to their room for the five nights they stayed, as it is much easier than carrying cash. I would guess that the total was about $500. And it was wiped off the bill. Completely. The hotel comped all their food and drink for their stay, as well as their parking, their drinks and their upgrade to a wonderful suite overlooking the atrium.

I am sure than they have paid for their trips through their loyalty over 20 years, as well as through their gambling, but it certainly makes for a less expensive holiday that it otherwise might be, especially if you have got a redemption flight using Avios!

One word of advice, though, from Caron: never assume you will get comped and never charge more to your room than you are prepared to pay, so that when you do, it’s a nice surprise.

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