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Viva NAB … and Las Vegas 2016

Dan has survived 25 trips to Las Vegas, so can you!

Last year at this time I wrote the following, but I am adding to it this year to include a few new things in Las Vegas for your visit.

With NAB around the corner (starting Saturday, April 16), I wanted to pass along a few things I’ve learned in my previous visits to the convention … and add a couple of websites that might be helpful. 

First … What’s New
If you’ve been to Las Vegas before, you know it’s a city constantly changing. Last year I caught the Cirque du Soleil “The Beatles Love” show at The Mirage. It was phenomenal! That was the first time I had seen that show and as you probably know, shows aren’t necessarily cheap, so I wasn’t planning to go again at least for a few years. But I just found out that the show has totally been updated with remixing of the music, including other Beatles tunes, lighting changes and even the story updated (as I heard, to be a little less “dark,” though I really didn’t think it was noticeably dark; which is in reference to certain war scenes, if you haven’t seen the show). They’ve even replaced the audio system and speakers in the seats (Yes, every seat has speakers!) So knowing Vegas is constantly changing, it pays to do a little research on the new things. Here’s one link with “The Cliff’s Notes”

Packing your Suitcase
This is funny, but I’ve never seen “a good way to pack your suitcase” … and thought this looked like a good way.

And yet another person using the same method (with the Benny Hill “Yackety Sax” background music) …

Pre-Travel Info
Here are some travel tips that you might find useful. Some apply more to women, but there are a few here that are good to remember for everyone.

Things I’ve Learned
This is my 26th consecutive NAB visit (all in Las Vegas of course). If you’ve been to the show (and Vegas) more than a couple of times, you may have already learned these the hard way (as I did):

Wear Comfortable Shoes!
You will walk … and walk … and walk some more. Be aware — everything looks a LOT closer to you than it really is. Especially if you are on The Strip and see a hotel or casino that looks “just down the road”… It isn’t!

A couple of years I stayed downtown and thought “that’s an easy walk” to the convention center. It wasn’t!

Be Prepared for Peddlers and “Hawkers”
The good Las Vegas weather allows for a lot of people to solicit for money or push “cards” (I say cards because anyone who has been on The Strip know what these are … but for the most part, you probably do not want these cards!) I just say, “No thanks” and walk by. As for the peddlers or panhandlers, what I can tell you is what a friend told me who works feeding the poor and hungry. If you truly want to help, donate to organizations that help these people. Handing them money often supports “needs” other than food or housing.

Sign Up for “Players Clubs” and Rewards Programs
If you drop coins in “one-armed bandits,” don’t do it unless you sign up for the casino rewards programs. I know many people are smart enough NOT to do this (I’m not one of them), but at least know you may potentially get some benefit from your losses. I usually get a free meal or a discounted/free room on my next visit.

Don’t Sit at a Bar and Let a Chatty Person of the Opposite Sex Sit Next to You and Become Your “Friend”
One year a nice enough lady spent 20 minutes next to me talking up a storm at Quark’s Bar at the old Star Trek Experience in the former Las Vegas Hilton (Yes, I’m a nerd). Had a nice enough time talking to her (this was prior to being married of course). When I went to leave, I found out the bartender had dropped her tab onto mine (yes, scammed!). Chalk this up to “live & learn.”

Sign Up for Giveaways on the NAB Show Floor
Like you, I “never win anything” … until one year I returned from the show to receive a call from a broadcast equipment manufacturer saying I won a Segway ($4,300 prize!) I thought it was a joke until I received it at my doorstep. Cool? No. Incredibly awesome! So, yes, take advantage of the free opportunities.

Spiffs & Floor Freebies
Companies used to give away a lot more of these things 20 years ago, but look around for these things and grab some for home, work, your significant other, or kids. My wife and daughters always have fun going through the “bags of goodies” on my return. (And thanks to the companies that still “find it in their hearts” to give away little trinkets.)

Show Planning
Prior to the show, many people (myself included) make appointments and plan to visit particular manufacturers on the “floor” of the massive Las Vegas Convention Center. It’s actually several “floors.” Look carefully at where they’re located. Schedule appointments or visit manufacturers who are close on the floor. There’s nothing worse than doing this haphazardly where you have a 9 a.m. appointment in the North Hall, then a 10 a.m. in South Lower, then back to the North Hall at 11. You get the point. (*See above “Wear Comfortable Shoes”)

Make Friends and Get to Know Manufacturers
I almost hate to have to say this, but this is the best opportunity to forge great relationships with the people on the floor selling this gear. I can’t begin to count the number of friends I’ve made over the years. They’ll be lifesavers when you need help with gear or have questions, and some of the friendships will last many, many years (even as some manufacturer’s reps move to selling gear with other companies). Oh, and have sympathy for them since they’re on their feet the whole time and stuck in one place. For me (and those of us attending and not showing), the convention is a little less work and probably a lot more fun than it is for the good people working the booths.

Take Advantage of Free Educational Opportunities
Don’t miss out on equipment demos on the floor. Many manufacturers will be happy to demonstrate their equipment or let you try it out. But not everything at the NAB Show takes place on the floor. In the rooms surrounding the various halls top professionals in the industry are teaching and letting you in on tips and secrets accrued from decades of experience. You couldn’t pay for the level of education and insight available in that one place for a few days. Plus, there are plenty of sessions about FCC policies, regulations and what’s coming up in the future. If you don’t learn something new at the show, that’s on you.

Dress for the Day
Vegas nights can get cool. Just watch the weather forecast and be sure to keep in mind that you might be still out after dark and walking around. It gets cool in the desert at night. And I wouldn’t worry too much about rain. In my 25 years, I think it’s only rained a little maybe on two days. And only one year was it actually cool (and windy!) most of the week. Otherwise the weather is great! Again … just do a little preplanning and check the weather before you start your day.

Oh … and between the constant air conditioning in the hotels and convention center, and the fact that you are in the desert, plan for dry skin and dry lips. Bring Chapstick and some sort of hand lotion. Some hotels provide a travel-size bottle of hand lotion as part of their bathroom offerings. Grab it and put it into your pocket when you leave the room.

Be Prepared
If you were a Boy Scout or in the military, this may be second nature. If you are from a small town and haven’t been around a place like Vegas, it can be a strange place. Be aware of your surroundings including your possessions (those you carry and things on you like your cellphone or wallet). My worst incident was having credit card info stolen (and used the next day in Louisiana). Keep track of your things. And if you carry a wallet, it’s always a good idea to keep it secure (even turn it sideways to make removal difficult). If you do a lot of walking (after the show) also know that there seems to be a lot of bees … so those with sting allergies shouldn’t forget their EpiPens, etc. And pack all the necessities like antacids, pain relievers, Band-Aids, etc.

If You Aren’t Prepared
Know that any sundry you buy in the casinos or hotels will be much more expensive than a store (or what you packed in your luggage). There are drug stores on The Strip where you’ll find the things you’ve forgotten at a much better price than in hotels and casinos.

So these things are just a few of the most basic tips I can provide to those new to the NAB Show or Las Vegas. Have fun and enjoy a great show and wonderful learning opportunity!

And finally …
This is not an endorsement of this or any company, but with most shows, if you get “last minute tickets” (and not from people standing on the street but at the box office or legit sellers), you can get substantial discounts for shows (as it’s better to sell a cheap seat than leave the seat empty). I work with a fellow who worked for Cirque du Soleil and has friends who work on “The Beatles Love” show (hence the above “inside info” on the newly retooled show). He’s the one who mentioned this particular ticket dealer as a good way to get discounted tickets (and I’ve ignored these ticket brokers for years … go figure!) He did say that it’s a little bit of a hassle as you still need to go to the box office even after you get the tickets through the broker, but he said “for the good 40% discount, it’s worth the extra little effort.” But like anything I find, I’d invite you to do your own research and check into these. I’m going to try these Tix4Tonight people this year for “The Beatles Love” tickets. I’ll let you know how it goes if you’re curious.

If you stumble across a good or unusual web site that might be of interest, please don’t hesitate to send me the link and any info you might have about it. My email address is [email protected].