An elaborate succession plan is now in place to prepare the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LCVA) for the eventual departure of its president and CEO, Rossi Ralenkotter,70, who has served the agency for 43 years—he started out as a research analyst—and has held the organization’s top job since 2004.
Put in place in January 2016 as part of a five-year vision plan adopted by the organization’s board of directors, the plan, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, called for the hiring of four “C-suite” executives, including a chief operating officer, to support Ralenkotter. At the 2016 meeting, the board was told the restructuring proposal would cost $1.1 million in salary and benefits and to add support staff for the new executives.
Since the proposal was approved, the LVCVA has promoted Rana Lacer, formerly senior vice president of finance, to chief financial officer and hired Barbara Bolender as chief human resource officer, replacing retired senior vice president of human resources Mark Olson. And Jacqueline Peterson was hired as chief communications and public affairs officer. The fourth position to be added is a chief operations officer who would handle the day-to-day administrative work currently handled by Ralenkotter. A spokesman told the Review-Journal last week that the board is seeking a president.
Who’s Next? There was also wild speculation last week that Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), was a leading candidate for an executive position at the LVCVA—even though this was news to some of the agency’s board members.
While some in the industry expressed surprise, even shock, up learning that Hill was a contender for a top job, Hill seemed confident that he was in line for such a position.“The LVCVA is an exceptional organization and has played a central role in the success of Las Vegas,” he said in a statement. “I am both honored and excited that Rossi would consider me for a position with the LVCVA. I look forward to meeting with members of the board to discuss their vision for the organization and how I might play a role.”
A Major Departure: One is hard pressed to come up with a name that has had such high visibility and durability in the DMO segment of the tour and travel industry as has Ralenkotter. Or as closely identified with the brand he markets. During his tenure in Las Vegas, Ralenkotter has been active in just about every association that intersects with the interests of Las Vegas. He has served on the board of directors of Brand USA and as chair of both the U.S. Travel Association and the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.
His tenure has also seen the expansion of the destination’s hotel room inventory to about 150,000 units.
© Statista 2017
At the same time, Ralenkotter has overseen the growth of the LVCVA’s budget to the point at which it is nearly a half-billion dollars—more than the tourism promotion budgets of most nations in the world. (Total expenditures for Fiscal Year 2018 are set at $448 million, while total revenue is pegged at $488 million.)
Responsibility Has its Rewards: Las Vegas Review-Journal reported last year that, including benefits and other expense allowances, Ralenkotter’s salary of $721,461 makes him the fifth highest-paid public official in Nevada behind three medical school professors at the University of Nevada, Reno, and former UNLV basketball coach Dave Rice.
To be continued …