“Yeeeeaaaahh, I’m gonna need you to represent the company at this convention.”
Dreaded words that immediately conjure visions of trudging around a convention floor networking and schmoozing all day, a boring business dinner at a bad chain restaurant packed with flair and then head back to the hotel room where there’s nothing to do but watch reruns of the “Real Housewives of Orange County.”
Convention duty in a normal city may feel like an “Office Space” sequel, but a convention in Las Vegas – now you’ve entered “Hangover” territory.
In Las Vegas, going to a convention is like a regular convention on steroids. After your business duties are finished there’s 24 hour access to bars and gambling, dining at the world’s best restaurants, dancing at the hottest nightclubs and countless other temptations.
Post convention temptation is strong in Vegas and it’s easy to fall into the Las Vegas convention vortex. Preparation is key. You don’t want to look like a rookie when you come here so we’ve put together some tips on how to survive your Las Vegas convention experience.
Stock your briefcase or purse like an overnight bag.
You’ll never hear the words “last call” uttered in Las Vegas bars and nightclubs and you won’t find any clocks or windows in casinos, which means it’s really easy to lose track of time. One minute you’re dancing at the club or rolling the dice at the craps table and the next thing you know it’s 4 a.m. Just in case you don’t quite make it back to your hotel room in time to sleep or shower before you have to hit the convention floor the next morning, you might want to bring some deodorant, Red Bull, breath mints and Advil in your briefcase to get you through the day.
Save your sole(s)
The Las Vegas Convention Center has 2 million square feet of exhibit space. If you’re here for a big convention it’s a safe bet that you’re going to be walking. A lot. On concrete floors. That means your feet are going to feel like they’re on fire after a day of standing on them. Make sure you bring comfortable shoes. It’s the one and only time in Vegas you want to think about comfort over style.
Ladies – you might want to think about investing in a pair of Rollasoles. These handy little shoes that roll or fold up and can fit right in your purse gained popularity on the nightclub circuit. You’ll even find them stocked in some vending machines. Here in Vegas those slippers will pull double duty as you can use them after a long day on the convention floor or after a night out dancing.
What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas, Until You Post it on Facebook
Let’s face it. People like to gossip. Not only about their co-workers, but about other people in their industry. A convention is the perfect breeding ground for gossip – you have all of your employees and industry colleagues gathered in one place and you might all be indulging in a few cocktails, which adds more fuel to the fire. It’s okay to let loose at a convention in Vegas, but if you’re partying and having some drinks, don’t forget that cameras and social media are everywhere. If you don’t want the whole world to see you tipping the go-go dancer at the club or doing body shots with the hot waitress, don’t do it. It will end up on Instagram.
Convention Attire vs. Vegas Attire
Plan your wardrobe carefully. There’s business attire and then there’s Vegas attire. And you’d better bring both. Make sure you have your business clothes and comfortable shoes for the daytime and bring some hipper choices for evenings. Trust us, you’re not getting into the club in your geeky convention clothes and athletic sneakers. Oh, and guys, leave your convention badge and nametag in your room too.
Some conventions in Vegas draw more than 200,000 people to the city. That’s 200,000 on top of all the people who are already here partying, getting married and having wild bachelor parties. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to book early. Not only will you get the best rates, but you’ll also have the best chance of staying in or near the hotel where your convention is taking place. If you’re coming to Vegas from across the country you might want to think about flying in a day or two early to get used to the time change and to familiarize yourself with the city. Coming in a day or two early could get you better rates as well.
Look Like a Big Shot
A big part of attending a convention is taking your clients out and schmoozing. You want to impress them and Vegas is just the place to do it. The last thing you want is to try to look like a big shot in front of a client and be turned away for a table at Nobu or be told that “Jersey Boys” is sold out. So make like a Boy Scout and prepare ahead of time. Buy your tickets in advance and make your dinner reservations well before you arrive and you’ll look like you know what you’re doing.
Make sure to find out what kind of things your clients are interested in. As hard as it is to believe, not everyone wants to see that topless show or try out the hottest vegan restaurant in town. Vegas has something for everyone so if you plan on taking clients out, find out what they like and don’t like beforehand.
If you decide to partake in bottle service at a club or drink some crazy frozen concoction out of a souvenir yard glass all night, you might wake up feeling like you’re living in a scene straight out of “The Hangover.” Don’t worry, there are some things you can do to make it better. Whatever you do, if the conference has breakfast, make sure you make it downstairs in time. Loading up on carbs and coffee will help that hangover. Hydration is also key. Not only will that help if you over indulged, but keep in mind that you’re in the desert. Vegas is hot and very dry. You need to drink a lot of water all day to compensate. We’ll let you in on another secret. If you’re seriously hung over, Reviv Wellness Spa at the MGM Grand can help. They will give you an actual IV drip of fluids that will rehydrate you, relieve pain and nausea and give you an energy boost.
Stretch Your Per Diem
Your boss might have given you an expense account for your convention travels but we all know that money doesn’t always go that far. You want to save cash whenever and however you can. Restaurants and bars in Las Vegas appreciate convention business and many of them will offer special deals to attendees. Just show your convention badge and ask your server and you might get discounted drinks or food.
Prepare and practice your speech or presentation before you come to Vegas. You might think you’ll have the time to get ready for your big presentation once you’re in town. You might think you’ll sit in your hotel room practicing your speech in front of the mirror. You won’t. You’ll be too distracted by Vegas. Have your presentation and everything prepared before you leave home.
The Art of Tipping
Las Vegas is a service-based city and that means tipping is customary. If you’re coming for a convention you’ll probably need the services of a taxi driver, a bellman, a maid or possibly a tour guide. Your head will spin at the number of people who you possibly need to tip. It can be hard to know when to tip and how much to tip, so we have some suggestions here: http://www.vegas.com/traveltips/tips-on-tipping/
A few bonus tips
Even though Las Vegas can feel as hot as the surface of the sun sometimes, we do have plenty of air conditioning – sometimes a bit too much. If you’re inside in a convention hall all day you might actually get a bit chilly. Dress in layers that will keep you warm inside but that you can take off when you head outside.
Two hundred thousand people all trying to upload their photos to Facebook and check their e-mail at the same time can mean that sometimes your cell phone won’t get the best service in a convention. If you need to meet up with co-workers after the convention, have a designated meeting spot and time in case you can’t call or text them.
If you have a group from your business going to or from the airport or to another hotel for dinner or a show, you might want to think about sharing a limo or a town car. Taxi lines can be excruciatingly long and with enough people it might be more economical.