EW’s flying phenomenon Johnno G happens to be in Vegas and nearly stays in Vegas…
Circling in the skies above Las Vegas, on a plane ready to land for my first IMEX America show experience, I thought… “This looks OK, but it’s just a city in the desert. What’s all the fuss about?”
How wrong I was.
Upon leaving the plane you are confronted with your first set of slot machines and the embodiment of one of the city’s main sources of revenue.
Next stop, security. For someone with a naturally olive skin tone (people think I could be anything from Italian to Indian), I was a little apprehensive having not been to the States since 1999.
No undue stress once I worked out that my luggage was already driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the conveyor belt road.
Jumping into a cab, the driver was a perfect ambassador of hospitality, and finding out I was a Vegas virgin, explained how the place worked and what to watch out for. A font of knowledge.
Caesars Palace gave me many royal memories to treasure from my trip. An IMEX dedicated check-in area made the initial arrival process incredibly easy and stress free.
Room sizes are impressive – certainly compared to my home town of London and the view was also ‘kingsize’ – from the 28th floor of the Augustus Tower.
The main check-in area at Caesar’s is bigger than some small towns I have been to in the UK!
I wandered around the hotel trying to find my bearings (unsuccessfully) for about two hours before finally deciding to stop at the same sports bar I had walked past roughly 25 times already.
I settled in to watch the New England Patriots play the Kansas City Chiefs in the middle of around 500 screaming American fans. Four different games were showing across the 50m x 10m wall of UHD TV screens – a fun experience to ‘get me in local character’.
It is easy to understand why people spend hours in these casinos. The same way that retailers encourage you to look at certain sections within their stores through clever product placements, the aim is simple, the longer you stay the more money you’ll bet.
The exit doors are all black glass, bringing in very little light from the outside, designed to keep you where you are.
I did find a door and the next day was build up day at Sands Expo and a good chance to get a sneak preview and figure out how to get to and from the venue from the hotel.
In Vegas everything appears so close to you, the size of everything throws everything in to complete but the scale is deceiving. In view of all the food I was surely going to consume over the next four days I decided I’d walk to or from the show to ensure the calorie intake was offset a little at least.
Once I’d seen the Mash stand take shape, I began to anticipate the next 3 days of making new contacts and doing what is great about our industry, networking and doing business in a face to face environment.
Caesar’s certainly looked after us for dinner. Night one was at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen. Not quite as much shouting as on the series, GR not being present himself but, the lovely winner of the last series in the US, Michelle Tribble came across and introduced herself to our party.
We had an amazing meal of Mixed Beet Citrus Salad, followed by Beef Wellington and Sticky Toffee Pudding. I couldn’t finish the dessert but almost died trying, such was the amazing quality of the food.
Night two was Nobu. An incredible experience: from fish sashimi and salads to a truly delicious beef dish and the blackened cod (my personal favourite). The green tea mousse on crushed Oreos was a fantastically light way to finish the meal, too.
Wearing a slightly bigger shirt on night three, I headed to Giada’s. Italian food at its absolute best.
I tucked in knowing that with the MPI Rendevous event afterwards that I would surely have the opportunity to dance off some of those calories.
The biggest scallops and prawns I have ever seen, bone-in rib-eye and some fantastic salads meant I couldn’t fit any of the beautiful desserts.
Boogie time at Drai’s nightclub and its roof top venue complete with pools, palm trees and an unbroken view of the Bellagio fountain show.
Add in 2,500 of the industry’s finest, all looking their best and out for a great night and one hell of a party is a given. I didn’t see anyone who was having anything other than a great night.
Many of you will have, of course, experienced both the best of Vegas and one or more IMEX shows, so forgive my ramble, but it is clear that the wow factor of a fantastic destination setting equates to exciting business opportunities and positivity.
The buzz of Las Vegas clearly acted as a turbo energiser drink in the business bloodstream.
Most eventprofs I met were professionally relaxed and open to collaboration and opportunity and I look forward to building on the many strong and exciting relationships with those I connected with.
There is no gamble in taking your big event to Vegas. It really is a win-win situation.
14 Feb 2019