Pubcon Vegas 2014 is about 3 weeks away! We have found that when going to Pubcon you need to plan ahead of time to make the experience more enjoyable. So, Brian LaFrance and I, Melissa Fach, got together and figured out what tips we would give to Pubcon attendees. This was a complete collaborative effort, however Brian is the expert on food and restaurants in Vegas (check out the extensive list below!). You can also see some great tips on last year’s Pubcon post, see comments.
Pubcon is a ton of fun and Vegas is fun, but that fun can take a major detour if you are not prepared. So, please check out the tips and suggestions below and if you have any tips please add them to the comments. Lastly, both Brian and I will be attending and speaking at Pubcon! Come say hello!
Things to Bring to Pubcon
- Bring a hoodie or jacket to the conference – freezing! The biggest complaint you will see on Twitter is how cold people are. Everyone tries to warn people that it is cold – Pubcon can’t control the temp, the convention center does.
- Bring water and drink water, lots of it! It is easy to get dehydrated in a dry environment, and drinking alcohol doesn’t help. (by Thursday you will see a few conference zombies that forgot to drink water…and are slightly hungover)
- Bring Tylenol/Motrin, daily. Either you will need it or your fellow attendees will. A great way to make a new friend is have some Tylenol :).
- Have some cash for the convention center – drinks, food, cabs and tips.
- Comfy shoes for the conference – the convention center is large and all that matters is your feet survive.
- Deodorant. Don’t forget it and use it a couple times a day. Vegas can be a stinky place and you don’t want to contribute to that.
- Business cards and something to safely hold all the business cards you get. Or, set up Evernote on your phone and snap a quick photo of all the cards so they’re searchable – https://evernote.com/contact/support/kb/#!/article/53057988.
- Camera that zooms – you want quality images for social shares, blog posts and memories.
- Chapstick, it is dry – it will be useful for the convention center and casinos.
- A small, portable power strip – Some hotel rooms and the convention center can end up with a limited number of outlet options. There are cheap power strips out there such as this one that will give you some extra flexibility on where you can charge your computer, phone, and whatever other accessories you have.
- Labeled power and phone cords. People lose them all the time at conferences. If your name and Twitter handle are on the cords people can tweet your name with the #Pubcon hashtag and you have a better shot at finding it.
- A couple of snacks/snack bars. You never know when you will miss a meal because you are talking with someone you don’t want to walk away from – snacks can save you!
Saving Money & Other Money Tips
- Share cabs – you don’t want to walk to the conference shuttle or wait for it you can share a cab and it will cost you like $2-3 dollars (plus tip). It is always good to have cash and small bills work great for this.
- Use your drink tickets. Free booze can be hard to come by outside of sitting at a table losing money. Plus, you can bring someone you respect a drink, that is always appreciated.
- Gamble downtown if you want cheap tables. In the evening, most of the table minimums on the strip are all going to be 2-3x those of the casinos on Fremont Street.
- Just plan on spending money on food and drinks – not a lot of savings 🙂
- Save receipts for everything (cabs, food, networking drinks, hotel, travel expensives), or take pics and save them to Evernote or Dropbox; these are tax deductions!
Conference / Nightlife Survival
- Make sure your cab driver knows to go to the Las Vegas Convention Center (South Hall) on Paradise Rd. (our cab driver tried to take us to the wrong convention center).
- Prepare to be up most of the night. If that means getting a quick nap at some point during the day or right before dinner, do it. Networking in the evenings is huge. (this is even more important for those that come from multiple time zones away)
- Consider hitting the Breeze Bar in TI (Treasure Island) every evening; massive networking happens here (I think the earliest I left was 2:30 am).
- Network with conference sponsors, like us, and exhibitors.
- Plan dinners ahead of time and make sure they don’t conflict with parties or events you want to attend. Expect that plans may change on the fly though and be flexible.
- Eat enough food so you don’t end up too wasted and on YouTube 😉 – Good plan…especially avoid being on YouTube riding a bull. That would be embarrassing.
- Get a cell number from people attending parties or dinners you are attending – if you get lost or if plans change you can always reach someone.
- Wash your hands often. Nothing like picking up a virus because someone else with a cold or flu had their virus infested hands all over the same doorknob, gaming chips, or bartop you’re now touching.
- REMEMBER – people you meet in a bar could be huge in regards to your future; make sure you don’t drink so much that you kill any opportunity you could have created (seen it happen).
- There are many people in recovery, make sure you are respectful when it comes to drinking or offering drinks. Be willing to walk away from a bar for networking.
Things That Freaked Melissa, the Floridian, Out
I am from Florida and to say it is very humid here is an understatement. I didn’t realize what the ‘dryness’ of Vegas would do to me. So, here are some tips if you also live in a humid and/or sea level environment:
- Drink as much water as possible. I was dehydrated and didn’t realize it. My skin was super dry, my lips were dry, I was weak and on the 4th day my legs swelled up and I looked like a freak…drink water. (Water is far cheaper at pharmacies and stores than hotels).
- The dry skin – bring lotion and face moisturizer and use them often.
- My hair is really curly, but in Vegas it was completely straight. If you have curly hair plan on a different hair style and bring the styling products you will need.
- Altitude sickness – I didn’t realize this was a thing until I got back and a friend that lived in Vegas explained what I was feeling was altitude sickness. Where I live in Florida I am below sea level; the altitude of Vegas was a huge change for me. Here are some tips on how to avoid altitude sickness and some symptoms you should look out for.
I always end up bringing too much when I travel and the truth is so much can happen in Vegas that you need options. Here is my strategy on how to not overpack:
- Plan and bring an outfit for each day and night. This will save you a lot of time!
- Don’t worry about being dressed up for the conference. The majority of the people attending are on the geeky side and they don’t expect business attire. Plus you want to be comfortable when spending all day at a conference dragging around a laptop and accessories.
- Have 1-2 dressy options for possible nights out (Bring items you can mix and match for a possible 3rd night).
- Bring comfy daytime shoes for walking around Vegas and the conference.
- Bring a dressier pair of shoes for evenings – focus on comfort instead of looks. You need a dressy pair.
- If you end up needing something there are stores everywhere!
- Plan on bringing back multiple freebies from the conference – consider the room you will need when you pack and the weight of your bag after the conference (airline fees).
- Plan a comfortable/comforting outfit for flying home – you will be tired, exhausted, possibly hungover and looking nice won’t matter. Also, the TSA is super careful in Vegas, wear things that don’t require you to remove items to get through the long line. (They checked my hair in a pony tail, twice! They aren’t messing around)
Like Melissa, I usually end up bringing too much. It’s just hard to plan for everything and sometimes plans fall through.
- Bring multiple pairs of shoes. I prefer having 2 sets of walking shoes so I can rotate day to day.
- Good walking shoes typically won’t get you into clubs, so you’ll want to consider that if you plan to go out and party.
- Pack your clothes in a roller bag. Almost everything is a pretty long walk in Vegas.
Brian’s Dining Suggestions
Brian has attended many Pubcons and been to Vegas many times. He has a fantastic list of restaurants to choose from. Each of the links below takes you to Yelp so you can check out reviews, get directions and see pictures of the food.
You have to buy your own lunch. On site lunches are hit and miss and the lines get huge. Sometimes better to catch a cab to a close restaurant and get better food. Some options that are a quick cab ride away…
- Lotus of Siam – Good Thai food option. Can be busy, but has also accommodated groups of around 10-12 on past trips.
- Bahama Breeze – Good food and service with a ton of great drink options.
- Freakin Frog – Good bar food and great beer options.
- Yama-Sushi – Good service and you can do their all you can eat deal, which is a great if you’re a big eater.
- Cornish Pasty Co. – Not sure there is anything that’s not amazing here.
- Firefly on Paradise – There’s food for just about anyone’s appetite here. The desserts are pretty awesome too.
- Angie’s Soul Food Kitchen – Not necessarily for the health conscious, but it’s bound to make just about anyone happy.
- Imperial Tacos and Beer – If you’re a fan of tacos, you can’t miss this place.
- Culinary Dropout – Get the pretzels & fondue appetizer. You’ll thank me later. You can also order any burger on a pretzel bun, which is awesome.
People usually scatter all over the city for dinner. There’s no shortage of great options in Vegas. Most of the casinos have several restaurants inside with everything from amazing steakhouses to huge buffets. Some places can get busy and reservations are recommended in most cases. Many of these options are a short walk or quick cab ride away from the convention center and conference hotel.
- Shibuya – Great sushi inside MGM Grand. If you want a great food experience where you don’t have to make any decisions, go with the omakase.
- Nobu – There are two options for Nobu in Vegas. Service can be a little slow at times but the food more than makes up for it.
- Sushi Roku – Solid sushi choice in the Forum Shops at Caesars that’s a quick walk from Treasure Island. Good service and usually easy to get in without a wait.
Steak & Seafood
- Tom Colicchios Craftsteak – Seems to be popular with conference attendees. Nothing I’ve had there was bad.
- Mastros Ocean Club – If you’re into steak & seafood, this is a great spot to hit.
- Lawry’s The Prime Rib – One of, if not the best steaks in Vegas.
- The Capital Grille – Good option on the strip.
- Delmonico Steakhouse – Great place for an amazing dining experience.
- Mon Ami Gabi – One of my favorite places to dine on the strip. Get a table outside and watch the fountains at Bellagio.
- Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse – Great place to get really full.
- Del Friscos Double Eagle Steak House – One of the best steaks I’ve had in Vegas.
- STK – Great service and great food. Well worth it.
- Hugo’s Cellar – This one is downtown but is very much worth the trip.
- Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italian Steakhouse – Good mix of italian food. It’s downtown, but worth hitting up.
- The Barrymore
- Texas de Brazil – A little bit away from the main action but you won’t leave unhappy.
- Vic and Anthony’s
Lighter, Faster & Some Vegetarian
- Viva Las Arepas
- Tacos el Gordo – Great tacos if you’re a taco fan.
- Hash House A Go Go – Get the chicken and waffles.
- Yard House – So much beer
- Imperial Tacos & Beer
- Earl of Sandwich
- Grimaldis Pizzeria – One of my favorite pizza places. There are a couple of these on the strip.
- Stripburger – Best burger I’ve had in Vegas. Tons of great options.
- Grand Lux Cafe – There’s something for just about everyone here. Service is good and it’s usually a good spot for big groups.
- Pho Bosa
- Veggie Delight
- Nem Nuong Bistro
- Gordon Ramsay BurGR
- Merkato Ethiopian Cafe – Great choice for those looking for good vegetarian or vegan foods.
- Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant & Market
- Firefly On Paradise – Great for lunch. Great for dinner.
- El Dorado Cantina – Not far from the strip and great food if that’s what you’re looking for.
Be prepared to wait in line for most of these. They’re good but some people don’t have the patience or time 🙂
- Bacchanal Buffet – By far my favorite buffet in Vegas.
- Wicked Spoon – Good buffet but can be hit and miss.
- The Buffet at Bellagio – This one can be awesome at times but the lines almost get too long.
- Le Village Buffet – Awesome breakfast/brunch option.
You Will Have a Great Time!
By taking the suggestions we offered above you can plan out everything and really enjoy Pubcon. Every tip offered is based on experience and failures :). We want you to avoid having anything negative and Brian wants you to eat well! If you have any Pubcon suggestions please add them in the comments below.
Brian’s Sessions at Pubcon – Wednesday
- How to Build Tools Using APIs
- WordPress Optimization
- Moderator – Interactive Site Review : Organic Focus
Melissa’s Session at Pubcon – Wednesday