10 Things I Learned at BlogWorld in Las Vegas

The slogan is "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," but since Neatorama sponsored my trip to the BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2010, I had to report my experiences to Alex -and I might as well share some of them with you. It was my first excursion to any kind of trade convention, and my first trip to Las Vegas.

(Image credit: Flickr user Justin Bugsy Sailor)

1. Bring more money.

Las Vegas, or at least the big resort casinos, are designed to extract as much money as possible from every visitor and then send them home. Rooms are relatively inexpensive compared to other cities, despite the fact that my room rate went up between the time I made reservations and the time I checked in. I skipped the $10 sandwiches in the airports and later regretted it, because the cheapest hamburger at the hotel was $15. Try the all-you-can-eat buffet, it's only $42. However, once you leave the hotel, you can find normally-priced food -IF you can figure out how to get there! I played the slots just enough to say I'd gambled in Las Vegas, but not enough to rate the free drink treatment. If there is one tip for a Las Vegas trip, it's bring more money.

2. Distance is an illusion in Las Vegas.

(Image credit: Flickr user Bill Rice)

Friday night I wandered down the strip and checked out the other casinos. Distance is deceiving in Vegas. The hotel and casino buildings are massive compared to buildings in other cities. You look out the window and tell yourself, "The Luxor is just next door -and Excalibur is the next building. No problem to walk!" But each resort covers many acres and "two buildings down" can easily be a half-mile walk. I walked as far as the Bellagio and probably put five miles on my feet. I was rewarded with a fairly nice video of the Bellagio Fountains (nice except when that woman stuck her camera in front of mine) and blisters on my feet. My legs were sore for a week afterward. That didn't stop me from doing the same walk in the sunlight on Saturday! When planning the particulars of your trip to Vegas, take your age and physical condition into consideration.

3. Las Vegas is built for tourists.

The strip has lots of wonderful street performers: costumed characters posing for pictures, musicians and magicians, a woman with a snake, and one fellow who invited me to his Facebook page. It was like Times Square, except in New York there are some locals in the crowd. Here, you can tell the residents because they are working.

4. Jet lag is a killer.

It took 12-13 hours to travel each way, but the three hour time difference meant I was ready for bed by 9PM and up 3AM. That's not a problem if you're there to gamble -the casinos are busy 24/7. I saved several dollars on a cup of coffee by trekking 15 minutes across the street to the fast food outlets, along with the other east coasters who couldn't sleep until sunrise. The Europeans were already out jogging by then. Jet lag also meant I was dead tired when the other BlogWorld attendees were partying the night away. If you have a chance to visit Las Vegas, do it while you're young enough to handle staying up late.

5. Bloggers never stop blogging.

BlogWorld is what happens when you put four thousand internet geeks in one hotel. Sure, they look like they're not paying attention, but what they are doing is blogging -in real time- as the speeches and seminars are going on. Many were sending messages to each other and to their readers via Twitter. Apparently most of the attendees have day jobs, because I seemed to be the only person there with neither a laptop nor a smart phone. In one seminar, the only way you could ask a question was by Twitter! Not that I had any burning questions, but they gave away some nice prizes to those who submitted.

6. World records can be broken anywhere.

My room did NOT come with a coffeemaker, so I spent a lot of time in search of an affordable cup. Gourmet Gift Baskets had a very large cup in the exhibition hall. It held 2010 gallons of coffee, which broke the world record for the largest cup of coffee ever! A representative from Guinness was there to certify the record on video. They also gave away coffee, so you can bet I got my share.

If the coffee runs out, Scotch will do nicely. Macallan Scotch was one of the sponsors of BlogWorld. Their booth was very popular. Because they gave us free samples of 12-year-old single-malt Scotch.

7. Drawing on cars is fun!

Both Kodak and Ford were event sponsors. Ford had the 2012 Focus on display, but Kodak had a Focus they invited attendees to scribble on! I, of course, had to do some advertising.

8. Free stuff isn't free if you have to pay luggage charges.

I picked up a lot of swag -five t-shirts and a bunch of toys and stuff, and I won a drawing for a Yahoo stylebook. I carried two big tote bags (also giveaways) back to the room and wondered how I'd ever get that stuff home without buying a suitcase and paying for checked luggage. UPS was there to save the day, with an offer to ship swag home free! They gave out 100 luggage boxes. I filled the box with convention giveaways and souvenirs as well, 20 pounds total, and shipped it back. My souvenirs got home a week later than I did, but the price was right.

9. The internet is much bigger than you think.

(Image by Flickr user Yann Ropars)

BlogWorld gave me a taste of how vast the blogosphere is. There were people from all corners of the internet- cupcake bloggers, diabetes bloggers, railroad travel bloggers, corporate bloggers with big followings, and tons of tech bloggers, many of whom had never even heard of Neatorama. I felt like a fish jumping out of the small pond into the big ocean. And once I left the Expo and wandered into the casino, I chatted with people who were wondering where all those geeks at the convention center came from. Some said they don't understand the internet at all. Of course, that's not so different from my hometown, where only a small percentage of the people I know use the internet at all -and that's mostly Facebook. Even if you surf for a living, there's a vast universe waiting to be explored.

10. It's good to be home.

I appreciate the opportunity to travel and attend BlogWorld, and especially the opportunity to meet Neatorama's social networking expert and BitLit curator David Israel. Still, no matter how much fun you have on a trip, there is relief is getting back to your family, your own bed, and your regular schedule (not to mention your personal coffeemaker). My daughters made cupcakes and decorated them with sprinkles that spelled out WELCOME HOME.

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Loved your article, loved seeing you sitting there resting your weary legs Macallan Scotch, and loved CUPCAKE WELCOME HOME MESSAGE!
And here, in the comments, I got to read your explanation for how it took you so LONG to get to Las Vegas and back. Uh, okay, now I sort of understand.
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Right after last year's BlogWorld I told myself I was going to go to the next one. Somehow we had inadvertently scheduled our Texas/Louisiana Roadrtip motorcycle ride during the same time as this year's BlogWorld. That really bummed me out.
I've been to Las Vegas many times and always enjoy myself even though I'm not a big gambler.
I guess there's always next year.
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Sounds like you had a great time, Miss C!

One of the things I noticed about Las Vegas is that it reminds me of a bunch of shopping malls. You know how shopping malls always have the same stores (Claire's, Sears, Hot Topic, the Cookie Factory, etc.) but differ only in decor.

In Vegas, you have the same slot machines and table games in every casino but the decor is different.

It's still a lot of cheesy, garish fun to visit!
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This is one of the scariest articles I've ever read on this site. It is also a close contender for the most depressing.

The idea that people have to be told there is some distance between giant casino, or that bloggers will write about a convention that they are attending, or that the Blogosphere is large... I lose hope for humanity and our collective intelligence.

I'm being overly verbose here. All of this comment can be reduced to a single three-letter word: "Duh".
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i've only been to Vegas once, but i think you overspent a bit. when me and my (now ex) went, we spent 10 days in Vegas and spent maybe $500 and were very comfortable. here's how:

you're right, casinos want to get the most money out of you as they can. so don't stay at casinos (or at least, don't stay on the strip unless you pre-pay for your hotel room!) i should also add that we drove (it was ten years ago, gas was like $1.15 a gallon), and there are probably things that have changed, but this should still help for the next time you go:

we stayed off the strip for all but the last two nights we were in Vegas. Fremont Street, which is kinda like the "old" strip, has awesome deals on rooms. we stayed for a few nights at the Las Vegas Club, which is an old-school casino (it's been there for a LONG time). the rooms were VERY clean, great service, and we paid $25 a night for a room with a king-size bed. the thing is, most casinos off the strip aren't really "themed"...but they're WAY cheaper and just as clean and hospitable (they still want you to stay and gamble, after all!) the last two nights we were in Vegas, we stayed at the Luxor because we wanted to stay in the cool slanty pyramid rooms: we booked and paid ahead, so the room was only about $75 a night for two nights.

also, avoid paying for amenities: hotels in Vegas are used to comping people (ie, giving them a ton of cool free stuff), so many times just asking about something like their spa will get you free admission. it's not abnormal to ask about this in Vegas, so don't feel like a cheap-ass to ask. we got comped two $100 spa treatments just by asking where the spa was at Luxor. and look in that Vegas coupon-book-thing everyone gets when they get to Vegas, it's got some awesome deals! we got two steak-and-lobster dinners for $8 each, with the coupon. seriously, everyone in Vegas expects everyone else to be a cheapskate, so take advantage!!!!

also, if you can hold out, go to dinner later: we'd wake up late (around noon) and wouldn't end up hitting the dinner buffets until around 11pm, at which time it was only $12 a person. most of the buffets actually have pretty good food (the casinos are billion-dollar-a-year businesses and they know that food puts asses in seats. seriously even though it's a buffet, that food is NOT the bottom-of-the-barrel stuff and quite often is very good quality. $100,000 per buffet is nothing to a casino that makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year!) but other than buffets or coupon deals, try NOT to eat at the hotels, because they'll screw you. and try not to eat on the strip: even McDonald's will overcharge you unless you go a few miles off of the Strip.

also, we learned a trick: sit at the nickel slot machines and get free drinks, and be nice to the waitstaff! the waitresses work their asses off for mostly tips, and if you treat them well (good tips but mostly just BE NICE!) they will treat you well! we would sit at nickel slot machines, because you don't really LOSE money, even though you never really win anything. but the waitstaff will bring you free drinks, and it's usually good liquor. we would generally tip the waitress $2 for every drink because it was top-shelf booze, and that tip goes right into her pocket because we weren't actually paying for the drink. our waitress at Paris ended up bringing us free sandwiches, cigarettes, and all sorts of other consumables because we treated her well (and she deserved it!) i mean, if you're not actually paying for what you eat or drink, you can afford to give a dollar or two to the waitstaff for their work!

yes, Vegas is designed in a very specific way. but there are plenty of free or low-cost options to get around. there are free monorails that go between many of the hotels and i'm kinda surprised that you didn't mention them. also, the Strip really isn't that long (two or three miles maybe?) Vegas is kinda like New York, you've got to find some people to share a cab with: if your destination is half a block from theirs, just figure out who's is closer and all get out there. i think the most we ever paid, per person, for a cab ride was about $3. and we were staying on Fremont Street, which is a few miles from the strip! i will say though, that a comfortable pair of shoes goes a long way in Vegas! also i should mention that we drove to Vegas from Denver (gas was only about $1.25 at the time), and we found out that you can park in any of the casinos parking garages for free and then walk, which is what we did. we'd just pick a parking garage (i think it was the Bellagio because it was fairly central on the strip) and then just walk or use the monorails most of the time.

oh, and be wary of shops within a couple blocks of the strip...they'll overcharge you for all sorts of stuff. i thought it was cool that i could go to a liquor store at 2am and buy a 250ml of Stoli, except that it cost me $18! (here in Denver, it would cost me under $10).
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