What Happens in Vegas … Surviving A Trade Show in Sin City

With CES upon us, it’s worth remembering that Las Vegas can be a very unforgiving place.  These Ten Tips can help you return happy, healthy, and with your 401K intact.

10) Dont be fooled. Youre in a desert.
With all the glitz, technology and marvels of architecture, it’s easy to forget where you really are … but your body won’t. It’s dry. Really dry, and your eyes and lips know it.  If you wear contact lenses, try to avoid wearing them all day and night, keep a Chap Stick with you at all times, and most importantly, hydrate! (I don’t mean the free drinks.) You need tons of water. Buy water when you land. Drink it before you even get to the hotel. You’ll never know how dehydrated you are until it hits you like a freight train. You’ll lose your voice, or maybe even consciousness! Hydrate.

9) Dont go overboard.
There’s no sense telling you to avoid the nightlife. That’s part of the Vegas experience. But for your own good, practice moderation.  Consider this:  There are no clocks in casinos.  There are no windows.  And sometimes it seems like there are no doors either.  Why do you suppose that is? It’s simple:  THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO LEAVE … EVER.   More than once, I’ve heard friends exiting the trade show floor with the words, “I’m just going to play a little craps.  See you in the morning…”

Seven free drinks later it’s 3 a.m. and they’re rolling in the next day looking like an extra on “The Walking Dead.”

So give yourself permission to have a good time, but make sure you can easily work and function in the morning. Ultimately, you’re a company representative—with or without a hangover.

8 ) Dont break the bank at dinner.
It’s oh-so-easy to spend $500-600 bucks at dinner at one of Las Vegas’ amazing celebrity restaurants. Just know: There are equally wonderful eateries just off the strip at a much more reasonable price. It may not be as “glamorous” as that rock star chef’s destination, but it’s great food at a fraction of the price. Yes, you’ll find world-class dining right outside your door, but if a $500 meal is beyond your per diem, take advantage of amazing affordable places just out of the way.

7) Dont stay in one place.
There’s much more to the area than just casinos. With just a short drive in your rental, you’ll find beautiful locations and activities away from the excess of the strip. A simple Google search will set you up with a daylong itinerary, if you like.

6) Dont leave your casual shoes at home.
Comfortable shoes are the key to a successful Vegas trip. At the bigger trade shows, it’s not uncommon to wait … and wait … and wait for shuttle buses or cabs. And if you have casual shoes, you also have the option to walk back to the hotel. It’s a great way to de-stress when you leave the exhibit hall.  This is a really crucial point:  At CES, or any Vegas show, you go from the din and electronics of the trade show floor to the din and electronics of the casino to the din and electronics of your hotel.  It’s never-ending.  Walking back to the hotel will create a modicum of space and time between chaotic destinations.  (Of course, you MAY have to take a detour around a pirate battle and an erupting volcano, but you get my point.)

5) Dont exhaust your funds on high-priced entertainment.
We all want to see Blue Man Group.  Many of us want to check out the latest Cirque du Soleil offering.  You might even want to see if the Criss Angel show is as lame as everyone says it is.  It’s understandable that you’d want to check out some of the very special acts that call Vegas home. Just keep in mind that some of the best entertainers you’ve never heard of are also just minutes away. Talk to the locals. Find out who’s worth seeing. There are magicians and comedians and entertainers of all kinds who put on amazing shows for a lot less than the big names.

4) Dont leave your food situation to chance.
It’s easy to come back from a trade show trip feeling physically “off” because of how badly or irregularly you’ve eaten. Rather than settle for trade show floor fare, bring your own! When you pass a place selling really nice Paninis, grab one and throw it in your bag. Then, just as importantly, try to find a soothing place to eat.   If weather permits, you might be able to sneak out a side door into a really pleasant, sunny environment and breathe real air!   Think of it!

3) Dont allow your trip to be only about excess.
All around you are some of the finest health care and gym facilities anywhere. You don’t have to be a hardcore athlete; just bring some gym clothes, ride the bike and listen to your iPod. It’s a great way to create some balance before or after your time on the trade show floor.

2) Dont believe what you read.
Vegas obviously offers things other than alcohol. You’re bound to end up with, shall we say, some very “compelling” promotional materials when walking around. Resist. What they’re selling is not what it seems … and even what it seems, probably isn’t legal!

1) Dont forget to remove your badge when you leave the trade show floor. There’s nothing like having a long conversation with a very beautiful person only to realize that wonky nametag was there the whole time. No wonder they were smiling!

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What did I leave out?  I’m sure youve had some Vegas experiences in your day.  What did YOU do that you wish you hadn’t.  

I’ll post a follow-up with all of your ‘Things Not To Do.”  I’m sure we can all benefit from the mistakes and lessons-learned of our fellow trade show adventurers.