Business to Business Online Expos

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Vegas getting ready for APPNATION: Discover. Acquire. Monetize.

appnationAs you get ready for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), you may wanna arrive in Vegas a few days earlier. On January 5th and 6th, The Cosmopolitan Hotel is hosting APPNATION VI and is expecting 4000+ Attendees.

APPNATION is the largest conference and exhibit in North America focused exclusively on the business of apps and the broader consumer app economy.  The theme of this year’s event is: “Discover. Acquire. Monetize” and the show reaches the full long-tail of app developers and publishers from the cool indies all the way up through the largest brands and companies in the world.

This is not a technical conference, as their mission is to help app developers of all shapes and sizes build great businesses through inspiring keynotes, topical round-table discussions, and deep-dive workshops that deliver actionable advice and best practices.

APPNATION focuses exclusively on the consumer app economy and our core areas of coverage include:

  • Discovery
  • Distribution
  • Acquisition
  • Monetization
  • App Marketing & PR Strategies
  • Analytics & Optimization
  • Lifetime Customer Value
  • Consumer Insights
  • UI/UX Best Practices
  • Cross-Platform Development

APPNATION  offers a wide range of sponsorship and exhibit opportunities for you to engage with key influencers and potential partners and showcase your expertise in their main agenda and on their main-stage. Click here to download the prospectus.

For other questions and inquiries about sponsorship opportunities, please email Drew Ianni at

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There’s a Reason I Chose ‘The Friendly Skies’

planeI was talking to a friend this morning about basic customer service skills and how companies and employees need more training in this area. As we were sharing horror stories, I was reminded of an experience I had with a reservations clerk from United Airlines about 15 years ago.

I was on my way to a job interview in Sacramento on an early morning flight from Los Angeles. When I arrived at the airport, I was informed that the flight was cancelled due to mechanical issues with the plane. Okay, things happen. I wasn’t that concerned because it was so early in the morning and I was confident they would re-book me on a different flight soon enough.

As an hour went by, followed by another one and then another one, the reservation clerks were blowing me off and not answering my questions or giving me new flight instructions.

I called the company I was supposed to interview with and they were very understanding about the matter but said, “see what you can do to get here before 5pm today because we are deciding between you and another guy tonight.”

Obviously, a bit nervous about missing this opportunity, I asked one of the UA clerks if she had any suggestions or ideas that could help me in this desperate situation.

When I finished my inquiry, the agent snapped back at me like a cornered bobcat and verbally let me have it. Her response was so harsh and inappropriate, I almost jumped over the counter and forced her down the luggage chute. Not only was she unwilling to make an attempt to help me, she belittled me in front of a line full of people.

I was upset, there’s no doubt about it. However, instead of lashing back [like my flesh wanted to], I simply looked at her and with a calm voice I said, “Ya know, there’s a reason I chose to fly ‘the friendly skies’.”

She paused. She smiled. She looked up at me and said, “I’m so sorry. Everything is a mess today. All schedules are delayed or cancelled, I was stressed and I took it out on you. Let me see what I can do.”

She immediately went to work and found me multiple options that consisted of crazy flight changes, even some options with other carriers. She ended up booking me through a couple of other airlines [at no cost to me], and got me to their terminal where my new tickets were waiting. My UA agent, made sure her baggage handling team brought my luggage over to the new terminal in just enough time to make the flight. It was amazing how she pieced this together because there really weren’t any airlines that offered flights to my location. Determined to help, this agent found a way to cooperate with multiple carriers to get me to my destination. My routes were out of the way [something like LAX to Phoenix to Vegas to Sacramento], but I was able to make it to the job interview before the end of the day.  [Side note: They offered me the job. I declined and took an offer from New Orleans instead]

The United Airlines agent initially forgot what her job expectations were and how important it was to provide a quality service to her customers. Thankfully, with a loving nudge, she redeemed herself and performed her responsibilities with excellence. And because she reversed her position on the matter, I wrote a letter to United Airlines that day, expressing my thanks for her outstanding efforts. They wrote me back and thanked me for informing them of her customer service skills.

The UA agent contacted me a few weeks later, as well. She wanted to take a moment to thank me for giving her a good review with the corporation. As it turned out, after upper management received my letter, the agent got promoted to supervisor.

You never know who you’re serving when you’re dealing with customers. You never know the impact any given client could have on your future or the future of your company. Treat everyone like royalty and provide the best service possible. This kind of commitment to excellence never goes unrewarded.

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Expo Exit Poll

Acts of God aren’t the only events that could heartbreak [or wallet-break] a company that is looking forward to exhibiting in various trade shows. There are so many horror stories out there from companies that had great plans for a convention, until disaster hit by events out of their control.

What about you? What caused you or your company to ‘exit’ past conventions. Heck, maybe you didn’t even make it to the show. Let us know!


Imagine if there was a place that incorporated all the aspects of a traditional trade show but offered the experience online, 24/7/365? A place where people could still have a business to business experience, show new products, network with other industry specific peers and customers? 


The Customer is Always…Ahh Who Cares?!

whocaresIn Los Angeles [and Las Vegas], we have a Chinese-American trendy restaurant called “Chin Chin“. I love the place because not only is the food delicious, but the restaurant is always clean. I’ve been going to Chin Chin for over 20 years now and even though it’s becoming less and less affordable, I am still a loyal customer for dine in and take out.

The other night I phoned in a take out order, like I’ve done on many occasions, however this was the first time I was unhappy with the way I was treated. I ordered two salads and two entrees with a side of white rice, for me and my wife. Even though the kids already ate, I knew that they would want to nibble on something, so I asked for their favorite order, Chin Chin’s Lo Mein noodles off of the children’s menu.

“I’m sorry sir, we don’t sell the children’s Lo Mein noodles for take out anymore,” the phonetress said. “You can order the adult Lo Mein, but not the children’s portion.”

I didn’t want the adult portion. They’re kids and I knew that they were not going to eat all that much so I asked her, “So do you guys not make a children’s Lo Mein anymore?”

“We do, just not for take out,” she replied and reaffirmed, “but you can order an adult Lo Mein for take out.”

Maybe I’m high maintenance or maybe I’ve been living in California too long and have become a little bit of a pain in the tookus, but this explanation was not sitting well with me. I just ordered $60 worth of food…correction…it’s about $12 worth of food that they were charging $60 for–and they’re gonna tell me that I cannot “buy” a dish that they sell in their restaurant because it requires putting it in a box? Not to mention, the price on this tiny box of noodles is $6.00; assuredly a 300% mark up.

So I nicely ask the phonetress, “Aww that’s a shame, my kids really want those noodles. Since we ordered $60 of food already, do you think you can make a little exception and sell me the children’s Lo Mein as part of my order?”

Customer Service 101: The Customer is Always Right. That policy doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to stupid demands by unreasonable customers. That means you have to look at the big picture. Here is a friendly customer that is spending an overpriced amount of money on two meals. He is asking if he can spend more money with your company by buying an item that you already sell. If this request is beyond your pay-grade, put the customer on hold and ask your manager.

What did the Chin Chin phonetress do? She blew it!

“I’m sorry sir, we don’t sell the children’s Lo Mein noodles for take out anymore, you will need to buy the adult portion.” She responded in a curt, ‘I could care less’ kinda tone.

“Yes, I heard you say that,” I continued, “I don’t need the adult portion, but since you sell the children’s Lo Mein noodles in the restaurant, I was hoping you could just make an exception and add it to my order this one time. Would you mind?”

She paused for a moment and then repeated herself, “I’m sorry sir, we don’t sell the children’s Lo Mein noodles for take out anymore, you will need to buy the adult portion.”

I wanted to jump through the phone and scream at this woman at the top of my lungs. I didn’t, but I definitely wasn’t feeling great about the service I was getting. It wasn’t even so much that they couldn’t do it, but the way she spoke to me. All she did was quote policy that shut me down. Not once did she make an effort to make me happy.

chinchinIn over 20 years, I have purchased at least $18,000 worth of meals from Chin Chin. I got this figure by adding $75 (one visit per month) x 12 months x 20 years. Not included in that estimate is the multiple visit months or visits where I brought a larger party of friends and family members, closing checks out worth $200-$300.

With that kind of loyalty, I expect better service. But even if I was a first time customer, an expectation of good service is not unreasonable.

I went to the Studio City location to pick up the food and I was very nice when I gave them the name on the order. They began assembling my to-go order but the girl helping me wasn’t the same girl that was on the phone. Just to test another team member’s response, I told her about my experience with the children’s Lo Mein noodles. This new server gave me the same explanation that the other girl did. I then informed her that I was aware of the new policy but I said, “I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal to just add it to my order, since this is an item you sell anyway.”

Then something amazing happened.

Instead of fighting me or being rude to me and standing her ground, she recognized that this customer [me] may need the assistance of a manager.

She called a pleasant, older gentlemen over and told him my request. Without one hesitation or negative reaction, the manager said, “Absolutely sir, no problem what-so-ever.”

He added the item [that they already make and sell] to the to-go order, I paid an additional six bucks and everyone was happy.

You may be reading this and asking yourself, “will I ever get the five minutes back that it took me to read this blog?” Or you may be wondering, “where is this dude going with this story?”

I’m throwing all this down because I want you to see the importance of good customer service.

  • I have been supporting their company for 20 years
  • I have spent over $18,000.00 at their company
  • I visit at least once a month and recommend them to friends and family

And with all of that upside for this company, one uncooperative phonetress almost chased me away. Yes, whether justified or not, I was so bothered by this silly new policy and her rude, unwillingness to work with me, that I was done. The manager saved our business relationship. However, if that manager demonstrated the same lack of customer service skills, I was outta there and never coming back, even though I loved Chin Chin for so many years.

You may think that’s silly. You may think that’s an overreaction. I’m here to tell you that my situation is nothing compared to most of your other customers–especially young buyers like Millennial kids. Folks walk away from businesses for a lot less. Take this seriously!


  • Go the extra mile for customers
  • Get over yourself and maintain a friendly, upbeat personality
  • If you hate your job–quit–no one wants to give away their hard earned money to someone that has no pride
  • Work hard even if your pay sucks – promotions come faster – nothing bad ever comes from good ethic
  • Thank customers for their business. They could have gone somewhere else. They will next time if you don’t appreciate them


  • Don’t hire staffers to greet your customers that lack people skills
  • Train your staff to be attentive to a customer’s needs
  • Train your staff to say “no problem, I’ll see what I can do” instead of saying “no”
  • Get back out there in front of the people once in a while so you remember what it’s like and can better train your team
  • Recognize staff that works well with your customers – if they make you look good, reward them

I can write blog after blog on this topic but I think I’ll let this rest for today by saying this. Whether you own your own business or work for one, you need to operate and focus on the traits that customers value most:

Attention, Dependability, Promptness and Competence

Make those four assets a standard practice at your business and you are guaranteed to succeed. Go get ’em!

NOTE: Chin Chin and I are speaking again; we have kissed and made up. I want to make sure my one negative experience doesn’t sway you away from the best Chinese Chicken Salad in the business. If you’re in the Los Angeles or Las Vegas area, I highly recommend you check out Chin Chin for yourself. You can find all their locations on their website at

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SEMA Show opens registration, expo begins on November 4th


SEMA Show set for Nov 4th-7th

The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world. It draws the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products to one place, the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition, the SEMA Show provides attendees with educational seminars, product demonstrations, special events, networking opportunities and more.

SEMA Show 2013 drew more than 60,000 domestic and international buyers. The displays are segmented into 12 sections, and a New Product Showcase featuring nearly 2,000 newly introduced parts, tools and components. In addition, the SEMA Show provides attendees with educational seminars, product demonstrations, special events, networking opportunities and more.

If you’re attending the show, download the SEMA Show App HERE.

Note: The SEMA Show is a trade-only event and not open to the general public.

Registration Hours

October 30 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (SEMA Show exhibitor only)
October 31 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (SEMA Show exhibitor only)
November 1 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (SEMA Show exhibitor only)
November 2 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
November 3 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
November 4 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
November 5 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
November 6 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
November 7 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Exhibit Hours

LVH exhibits open at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday through Friday.

November 4 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
November 5 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
November 6 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
November 7 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.



3150 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89109


SEMA Show Parking

Parking is $10 daily on Show days with in/out privileges at the following locations:

  • Gold Lot: located across from the Convention Center entrance on Paradise Road.
  • Green Lot: located on the Southeast corner of Swenson and Desert Inn, behind the Convention Center. This lot is unavailable on Friday, November 4.
  • Handicap parking is available in the Gold Lot.

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Vegas Tip #3,421: Airport Slot Machines

Airport Slot Machines

Are slot machines at Las Vegas airport a tourist trap with bad odds?

I’ve been to Las Vegas so many times, I have become an expert on all things Sin City.  I’ve given so many Vegas Tips over the years to friends and associates that I figured I’d just continue the trend right here on our blog.

Obviously, since this is a new blog, you didn’t get a chance to hear the first 3,420 tips I gave out to my power circle.  However, instead of starting over and back tracking to help you catch up, I decided to just keep moving and start with Vegas Tip #3,421.


When you arrive in Las Vegas for your expo, you will walk off the gate to the sounds of bells, whistles and sirens.  There are approximately 1,300 slot machines at McCarran International Airport.  And while it’s kind of fun and exciting to make that entrance,  it’s rare that you will actually sit down in front of a machine and begin gambling.  Most folks like to get to their hotel quickly so they can give all their money to that venue.

It’s only when you’re leaving town that these machines start calling to you as you wait to begin boarding.

I’ve always been told to stay away from those slots. I’ve been warned that they are programmed with less odds than the machines on the strip.  Not being much of a gambler my whole life, I believed that advice and never put anything into those puppies–until one strange two hour business lunch.

About ten years ago I was asked to fly to Vegas from Los Angeles for a business lunch.  My flight was to land at 11am and my next flight back to LA was leaving at about 3pm.  Pretty much enough time for a two hour meal and brief conversation.

The engagement was very productive and as I got back to the airport to head home, I felt pretty good about the potential relationship with this party I had connected with.  I was a smoker back then so I made my way to the smoking room at the airport to have a couple butts before my flight boarded.  In Las Vegas, the smoking rooms are full of slot machines.

“Ah what the heck,” I thought as I opened my wallet to see how much cash I had.

There were two twenties in my bill fold and I decided to stick them both in the dollar machine.  Even not being much of a gamer, I know to always play MAX credits when using slots.  It makes no sense to play the minimum bet because the pay out is much larger with all allowed credits in the game. This game had a $2 max credits requirement so with $40 on a dollar machine, I was gonna get 20 spins.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

I got down to my third cigarette and my final spin and bam!  One seven, two sevens, three sevens and all the bells went off.  In my subconscious mind I knew I won something but didn’t think it was gonna be all that much so I had a very casual response as people started gathering around me.

“You just won $5,000.00,” a little elderly woman said to me with a beaming smile.

“I did?” I asked.  I looked at the machine and yes, I most certainly did.


Vegas fun for your iPhone. Click on logo to download.

Truth be told, after paying taxes on it, it was more like $3,200 in winnings, but even still, not bad for a little lunch break out of town.

According to Gray Cargill of, “I’ve seen many reports on TripAdvisor’s Vegas forum from people who won enough money at the airport to make them happy.  According to Chris Jones, Acting Manager of Public Affairs and Marketing at McCarran, two players at McCarran won $392,000 and $259,000 respectively within four days of each other in May 2008. One lucky traveler won $3.9 million at a progressive Wheel of Fortune machine in January 2005. ” released some great slot machine myths and facts.  Here’s a few below:

Myths and Facts

Just about everything that players believe about slots is untrue. Here are the most common myths and facts.

  • Myth: Slot machines are programmed to go through a cycle of payoffs. Although the cycle can span thousands of spins, once it reaches the end the outcomes will repeat themselves in exactly the same order as the last cycle.
  • Fact: This is not true at all. Every spin is random and independent of all past spins.
  • Myth: Machines pay more if a player card is not used.
  • Fact: The mechanism that determines the outcome of each play does not consider whether a card is used or not. The odds are the same with or without one.
  • Myth: The machines by the doors and heavy traffic flow areas tend to be loose while those hidden in quiet corners tend to be tight.
  • Fact: I’ve studied the relationship between slot placement and return and found no correlation. Every slot director I’ve asked about this laughs it off as just another player myth.


Of course, the best way to win in Vegas is…to simply not play.  About 80% of people who gamble anywhere on their visit go home in the negative.  Another 11% come back even.  And the remaining 8-9% return ahead.  You’ve worked too hard to hand over your earnings that easily.

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Do I need to rent a car while I’m in town for the Expo?


Make sure your NYC taxi cab has a meter and a posted hack license.

As your planning your trip to your next convention, one of the things on your check list is transportation.  Unless you’ve had previous experience in the city you’re going to, you’re probably wondering if you should spend the extra money on renting a vehicle.

Obviously, there are a lot of factors involved here and every situation is different.  For instance, if you know that you’ll be taking clients off premises for dinners and meetings, you’re going to probably want to have a high-line rental in the hotel parking lot so you don’t kill your budget with car services.  Additionally, if the only hotel you were able to book is quite a distance from the convention center in a town that doesn’t offer good public transportation, you may also want to consider locking some wheels down.  Heck, there are towns that are either so humid and sticky or cold and windy, I’ve rented a car even for short distances so I didn’t have to deal with Mother Nature at times.  I’ve also taken cabs one block at times so that I looked and felt fresh when arriving at the show.

Only you know all the specifics of your trip so you’re on your own there.

What I’d like to do is tell you about specifics in a few cities I have a lot of experience in.  Let’s start in my old neighborhood…


Apart from a couple cities overseas, The Big Apple has the best public transportation system in the world. 13 miles long and 2 and 1/2 miles wide, this small island in New York is home to 1.6 million people. During the work week, over 600,000 more people come to work from 3 or 4 different states. 2.2 million people in 22.7 square miles. Do you really want to drive in that?

The good news is, you don’t need to.  Even if you stayed in an uptown hotel, there are plenty of transportation options to get you downtown to the show.  While you still have to be very careful of your personal belongings, the crime rate has dropped considerably and riding the subways in the day time is very safe.  Unfortunately, there’s still a strong smell of urine on the New York City streets, but sadly enough, you get used to it rather quickly and it doesn’t bother you anymore.

You’ll probably fly in to Jersey or Queens.  If your hotel doesn’t offer a shuttle, then take a yellow cab.  DO NOT take a car service on the fly.  In other words, unless you ordered it before you arrived, don’t fall prey to non-licensed car service guys who promise you a great deal into the city.  Make sure your cabby has a license and a meter.

The trip into New York City from Newark, La Guardia or JFK should all be under 30-45 minutes if there’s no traffic.  Unfortunately, there’s usually traffic.  Just keep an eye on your route.  Some cabbies take the long way to pad the meter.

One you arrive at your hotel, you can survive on cabs and public transportation for the rest of your stay.  It’s so much more convenient.


When you land in Sin City, the airport is only a few miles from the “strip”.  It’s very easy to take a cab to your hotel and you really never need a car again–until you cab your way back to the airport.  But…it’s Las Vegas.  Who wants to be stuck in one place in this exciting city of lights?

There are a few positives and negatives when considering having your own wheels.

For instance, if you have a car, you have the freedom to take off whenever you need to and go anywhere you want in a very exciting town that allows you to park almost anywhere for free. Seriously, this is probably the only city left in America that offers free parking at almost every major venue. Obviously, they are keeping your pockets full because they assume they will get that money anyway, once you get inside the casino. But free parking is a huge plus that could really save you hundreds by the end of your trip.  No cab fair, no parking fees , no public transportation…it’s a beautiful thing.

On the other side of the coin, Las Vegas is a party city.  Even if you’re not much of a party person, this town inspires even the strong to say, “Ahhh what the heck” and participate in some smooshjing.  It’s very easy to make a mistake that you can’t take back.  An out of town D.U.I. is no fun (minimum of $10,000 in fines), but worse yet, one careless choice and momentary lapse in judgment could take a life–yours or an innocent tourist.

I’ve talked to so many expo-goers over the years who lived responsible, respectable lives in their home town, but came to Las Vegas and made the police blotter.

Take my advice, unless you’re strong enough to be the trip-long designated driver, don’t even rent a car.


Another city focused around party time.  I mean, come on, they serve daiquiris at drive-thrus. Go and have your fun, but get a hotel away from all the wildness. This choice will force you to rent a car to get around, but you’ll thank me later for it. If you do want to stay in the French Quarter, aside from one or two of the larger hotel chains, there isn’t much to choose from.  I don’t recommend staying anywhere near Bourbon Street. There’s a Double-tree in Metairie (10 miles away) that is clean, modern and a great place to escape the craziness.

On a side note, everyone that goes to New Orleans wants to eat at “Emeril’s” restaurant.  Most nights he’s there in person, cooking and shouting out ‘bam’! But if your budget doesn’t allow multiple five star dinners on your trip, skip the touristy-trendy spot and make sure you dine at “Mr. B’s”. This is right in the heart of Bourbon Street but the food is so delicious and the service is top rate.  Great place to take clients you’re trying to impress.


This city is way too spread out to survive without a rent-a-car.  In addition, the taxi drivers here are the worst when it comes to honesty in routing.  If you get in a cab here, make sure that you map the route in your phone GPS and let the driver know that you’re doing so.  These guys are sharks.

However, if you do rent a car, be very careful in downtown Miami.  One wrong turn can take you right into a neighborhood that may resemble something from Scarface or New Jack City.  I’m a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan but I’m at peace with loving them from Los Angeles.  Seriously, there are so many beautiful areas in the Miami area, but some neighborhoods you need police escort to make it out alive.  Be careful!

If you do rent a car, I highly recommend that you stay at the Westin Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood.  It’s right on the beach, reasonably priced, clean and gorgeous. I’ve stayed at the Westin a dozen times and always had a great experience.

Many other places along the beach look great in the pics online….and only online. If you want to visit South Beach, feel free but let me save you a few dollars.  Don’t pay hundreds of dollars just for the luxury of sitting in a vip area of a club.  Once you sit, you will then pay $400 for one bottle of alcohol valued at $24.95 at the local liquor store.  You will also pay hundreds of dollars for cranberry juice and other mixers. Do all your business stroking at the hotel.

If you want to do something different and not rely on alcohol driven events, Miami is a great town for water rentals. boats, jet skies, fishing, snorkeling and swamp rides are just a few of the events offered that you may consider inviting peers to.  Give your clients or employees a day of local nature and plan something they will remember for the rest of their life.

Here’s a few other towns and considerations:

CHICAGO – Rent-a-Car

WASHINGTON D.C. – Public Transportation (Clean and safe)

ATLANTA – Rent-a-Car

PHILADELPHIA – Rent-a-Car (Don’t get lost, rough town, streets hard to navigate)

SAN FRANCISCO – Public Transportation (Bart System) is awesome


DALLAS – Public Transportation

SAN DIEGO – Rent-a-Car

LOS ANGELES – Rent-a-Car

ORLANDO – Rent-a-Car

LONDON – Public Transportation

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Las Vegas Lodging Cost Cutter

Treasure Island

Treasure Island (ti) is only one cross-bridge away from The Sands Convention Center.

The Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, Nevada is home to countless expos every year. Frequently, because of the many different expo halls it offers, multiple conventions are put on in this show place at the same time.  For those who don’t know, The Sands connects directly to The Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas “Strip”.

For convenience, but also sometimes because of lack of knowledge, many exhibitors and attendees that come to the shows, book their lodging at The Venetian.  People can keep everything in one place, don’t have to pay for cabs or walk long city blocks in the windy cold or draining heat (depending on what time of year you attend).  Not to mention, the rooms are very nice and the hotel has pretty much everything you need built into it–from restaurants to gift shops to entertainment.  You basically never have to leave.

I used to come to town twice a year for conventions at The Sands. I came with a partner and brought a team.  I’m not gonna lie, if money wasn’t a factor, I would have stayed at the Venetian every time I came. I really like the hotel. Unfortunately, when considering costs for me and staff members, it made no sense when there was another option that cut costs almost in half, and was in walking distance from The Sands.

Treasure Island, or as it’s called in it’s new and improved, trendy title, “ti”.

When you walk out the front door of ti, you walk a short distance to a foot bridge that goes over the Las Vegas strip and into The Venetian.  Once inside, you follow the casino carpet around a bit until you enter The Sands Convention Center.  Even if you’re carrying heavy bags of merchandising, lap tops or walking in high heels, it’s a very do-able adventure that saves your company money.

It also gives you a place away from all the action if you feel like you want to escape once in a while.  Obviously, we attend these events to network, mingle and make new connections. But when you’re staying in the hotel where the show is and the place that most of the attendees are staying, you can never escape if you do decide you want a breather. Treasure Island doesn’t offer as many bells and whistles as The Venetian, but it’s clean, it has a couple great restaurants and as I mentioned, very affordable.

Unlike most hotels and resorts who change their rates based on seasons and prime calendar dates, Las Vegas changes their rates daily based on events.  You can stay at almost any top shelf hotel and casino on the strip for $99-$149 on a night when there is nothing special going on during the week.  However, if that same hotel books Celine Dion to sing in their theater the very next night, those same rooms could cost you $299-$499. I believe that a similar pricing structure is put in place at hotels during big conventions that come to town.

Getting back to Venetian vs. Treasure Island, let’s look at the current rate structure that they are both advertising right now on their websites:

  • Advertised Weekday Rates, standard room, 1 king, The Venetian: $149 to $599
  • Advertised Weekday Rates, standard room, 1 king, Treasure Island: $59 to $279
  • Advertised Weekend Rates, standard room, 1 king, The Venetian: $309 to $339
  • Advertised Weekend Rates, standard room, 1 king, Treasure Island: $247 to $292

I find it interesting that the weekend rates at the Venetian never get higher than $339 a night.  However, there are scattered days throughout the next month where their weekday rates soar to $599 a night.  Regardless, as you can see, there is a considerable difference in price and Treasure Island frequently has specials that make longer stays more attractive.

Finally, once you arrive to whichever hotel you choose, never be too embarrassed to ask for a free upgrade.  Hotel clerks have a lot more power than they may admit and the worse they can say is, “no”.  My wife and I always have a pleasant conversation with front desk clerks when we travel and we always ask for a free upgrade.  More then HALF of the time we ask, we get ’em!  Try it.

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Tales from “An Exhibitor”

Union Set Up

Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. If the union is supposed to set something up, it is probably a good idea to let them.

In today’s Tales from “An Exhibitor”, I spoke with Mark R. of  ** (company name omitted per Mark’s request).

After sharing a few inside stories and experiences, Mark told me about some early booth set-up tricks that he does every show to avoid paying union fees.

“Let’s face it, the union guys at these shows really take you to the cleaners,” Mark said. “I mean sometimes you have to cut a few corners to save money.  First of all, anything you can carry, make sure you carry it–even if it means multiple trips from the parking lot or hotel room.”

Mark was at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas recently.  “The trick is, to come early on set-up day,” Mark continued. “The union guys are busy setting up booths so they’re not policing people as much when it comes to load in.  I take as many staffers as possible and fill up those big military style bags with as much as I can. DVD players, flyers, hard drives…heck, I’ve snuck in monitors, speakers strobe lights and small tables and chairs.  We strap ’em up like backpacks and look like we’re going to war.  When you’re pretty much first to arrive at set up time, you get less resistance.  You won’t get away with setting up major things by yourself, but don’t let them push you into assembling things that you have every right to set up.”

“What kind of things do you mean?” I asked.

“I had a union guy tell me I wasn’t allowed to set up my PA system one year,” Mark replied.  “It was two speakers, two stands, a mixing board and a couple of microphones.  As I began opening the stands, he squirmed into my booth on the prowl and told me that I have to let the union assemble that.  I defended my right to self-assemble on the grounds that it was simple and ridiculous to pay $400 or whatever it was for their help.  I made such a strong, convincing argument to the guy that by the time I was finished talking, I was also finished setting up.  He walked away a little annoyed.”

According to The Trade Show Marketing Network Group,  the union guy Mark is referring to in Las Vegas may have been well within his rights to declare the work part of union regulations. Read below:

Electrical unions do electrical work, hang signs that are lighted or rotating, and work on any part of the booth that includes electricity (back lit headers, light boxes, clip on lights, plasma screens, AV equipment, etc.) An exhibitor may plug-in their equipment into the 1 (one) 20amp/120 VAC receptacle per booth and hang up to 4 (four) small clip-on lights per booth. An electrician must be called for any increase in electrical service. Electricians also hoist all teamster assembled signs weighing over 300 lbs at the LVCC and over 200 lbs at the Sands Exposition. Suspended light trusses for non-programmable lighting and ground supported truss intended to distribute overhead electrical equipment is also the work of the electricians union. Electricians are responsible for all under-carpet distribution of electrical, communication wiring (coaxial cable, fiber optics, telephone, etc.) 

“When it comes to setting up the construction of booths, bringing in cars, boats and extremely large items, I get it,” Mark volunteered. “But come on man, sometimes I think those guys get a commission for every item they set up.”

While Las Vegas used to be fairly “user friendly,” unions have tightened their grip on the city over the past five years. Especially rigorous are the regulations governing electrical services. If you have not exhibited in Las Vegas for a while, please review your Exhibitor Services Manual carefully for rules and regulations. While we appreciate Mark’s candor, we also don’t endorse playing games with the union.  Do not equate the fact that Nevada is a right to work state with liberty to do as you please within the convention centers. It is not the case.