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by Padraic Gilligan, Vice President, Industry Relations, MCI

IMEX America 4In a recent post I recalled, with some nostalgia, the halycon days of IT&ME a.k.a. The Motivation Show when the entire meetings and events industry decamped to Chicago every year in September or October. Sometimes we froze and sometimes we were roasted to a crisp depending on the unpredictable mid west Fall weather – it was always difficult to know how or what to pack. Now that IMEX America in Las Vegas appears to have become the “must attend” exhibition for the widest possible spectrum of Global Meetings Industry associations, corporations and individuals we have no such weather issues!  I though a  “5 tips for success” post might be in order, aimed at non US/Canada attendees and, particularly, at European and Asian participants who make the long haul journey to this extraordinary West Coast destination.

1. Figure out how to deal with the Jet Lag

IMEX America 2Asians and Europeans who fly to Vegas will be very significantly out of kilter with their body clocks – even “near Europe – Lisbon or London or Dublin – is a full 8 hours ahead. This all means that you’ll waken naturally between 2 and 4am and will not be able to get back to sleep. It also means that you’re yawning prolifically like a bored teenager early – mid afternoon when you really should be paying attention to the important client who wants to brings 500 qualifiers to your destination. You’re also ready for your cocoa and hot water bottle about 6pm (= 2am in London!). Everybody has different ways of dealing with jetlag (here’s a 10 step programme) so find your way and adapt to the new time zone as quickly as possible.

What do I do? I sleep as much as possible en route to Las Vegas and then walk/exercise as soon as I wake in the morning – this leads to fascinating trips up and down the Strip at 3am but I find i adapt quicker by doing this.

2. Look beyond the strip

IMEX Las VegasMy 25 year old daughter recently spent 8 days in Vegas and I don’t think she left the Strip at all (other than a trip to the Canyon with the superlative Maverick helicopters). In fact I’m not sure she even left the MGM Grand where she was staying.

I recommend that you look beyond the Strip and capture something of the extraordinary wider geographical and socio-economic context of this amazing city. Take a early AM taxi out to the Black Bear Diner on W. Tropicana and have a sumptuous breakfast away from the neon and the noise. You’ll meet locals there going about their business much like they do in any other US town.

Alternatively take a look at Red Rock Resort, an off-Strip property that provides stunning views back at the Las Vegas skyline. This property is very much new Vegas  – great design, stunning architecture, beautiful setting at the foothills of the Red Rock mountains and yet only a stone’s throw from the Strip (if you can throw a stone 12 miles!)

Be sure, finally, to take a trip to the Grand Canyon. Contact Maverick Helicopters for an amazing flight over the Hoover Dam to the Canyon.

3. Don’t shop in the Outlet Malls

Shopping in Las Vegas is one of its main attractions but it can be expensive by comparison with other US cities. There are Outlet Malls at either end of the Strip and you can take the bus there easily but I don’t recommend it. I found those Malls dimly lit and lacking the brands that make outlet mall shopping worthwhile. Pay the extra money and shop on The Strip at Caesar’s (The Forum), Fashion Show Mall (opposite Wynn) or the magnificent mall in City Center (sic).

4. Be sure to go to a show

IMEX America 3You can spend a pleasant evening enjoying free shows along the Strip – the famous Fountain Show at the Bellaggio, for example or the Pirate’s Galleon at Treasure Island but be sure to go to a show. Cirque du Soleil has created some incredible shows that can only really be staged at the customised theatres of the great casinos so be sure to pick up a ticket. Ideally book in advance but if you don’t there are many outlets along The Strip selling discount tickets for that night’s performance.

My own favourites? Definitely Love at The Mirage – it’s 75 minutes  of original Beatles accompanied by choreography courtesy of Cirque. Breathtaking!

Love at The MIrage

Also at The Mirage you can visit BBKing’s and enjoy amazing R&B while sipping your cocktail.

5. Come in early and stay a day or two after

This tip may be coming to you too late now but remember it for next year. You’ll need a day or two to acclimatize to the new time zone (Tip 1 above) but there are amazing educational events on offer as part of the IMEX programme starting on the Sunday. The Monday prior to the opening of the show, now named Smart Monday, presents a panoply of MPI curated education session including sessions on Hybrid Meetings from Sam Smith, on Incentives from Jim Adams and Kevin Hinton of Site and on Social Media from Gerrit Heijkoop.

Every morning too there are really cool keynote addresses prior to the opening of the show and throughout the day campfire style discussions are available around the show floor.

An over-riding tip which is a sine qua non for success at IMEX, and at any trade show, is to come to Las Vegas equipped with happiness, handshakes, hugs and humour. Your open, radiant face and smiling eyes is the absolute guarantee of success at the show.

See you there!

Party Time

Oh … and you’re all cordially invited to the best party on the Strip. See here for details and come to the Ovation /DMCNetwork booth on the Show Floor for your wrist band. Say Padraicino sent us!

1OAK

Padraic Gilligan works for MCI and, with Patrick Delaney, leads MCI’s destination services division, Ovation Global DMC. He is a 20+ year veteran of meetings industry trade shows and a regular visitor to Las Vegas. You’ll find several blog posts on Vegas by searching on the archives button above 

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