This January, the best of the best in affiliate marketing will take over the Entertainment Capital of the World: Vegas, baby!
Affiliate Summit West is the west coast edition of the largest affiliate conference series in the world, Affiliate Summit. This guide contains everything you could possibly want to know about enjoying the Silver City as a marketer… and probably a few things you wish you didn’t.
This time around, we've beefed up the guide with exclusive insight from speakers and well-known Affiliate Summit figures.
- Zac Johnson discusses the power of networking and the growth of Affiliate Summit. Great advice for both first-timers and veterans of the conference series.
- Michael Benedek has a solution for regaining sales that many affiliates may not even realize they're losing. Excellent insight for affiliates using Big Data and optimizing conversions at scale.
- Bill Rothbard gives you the inside scoop on the turbulent FTC landscape and how he's seen advertising law change over the decades. Advertisers, especially those in Health & Beauty, will want to pay very close attention - especially with big FTC changes coming next year.
- Pat Asbra talks about email marketing, new channels and why affiliates are especially capable of taking advantage of new opportunities. It's a must-read for email affiliates, but anyone on the cutting edge of affiliate marketing will benefit greatly.
- (New!) Mariam Barnes shares her experience as a recruiter in the tech and digital marketing industry. She's seen the industry change, and she knows what candidates really mean when they say what they say. Building a team? Take note of her advice.
In addition, we've powered up our advice with restaurant suggestions, new tips based on previous events, hangover cures and, yup, the best places to get hitched.
When it comes to ASW, the old saying just doesn't apply; what happens in Vegas ripples throughout the affiliate marketing world and sets the tone for 2018. If you'll be there, this guide is a must-read resource for ensuring long-lasting effects from ASW.
Special thanks to Zac Johnson, Michael Benedek, Bill Rothbard, Pat Asbra, Mariam Barnes, Mr. Romance and Scotty Kaz for their contributions so far!
1. THE CONFERENCE: AFFILIATE SUMMIT WEST 2018
When it comes to the global stage, few conferences compare to ASW. This biannual conference started back in 2003 and has traditionally featured two versions: Affiliate Summit West in January and Affiliate Summit East in New York later in the year. Starting in 2018, there will be a third official edition: Affiliate Summit Europe in London.
What: Affiliate Summit West 2018 (#ASW18)
When: 7-9 January 2018
Where: Paris Las Vegas Hotel
Who: Affiliate Summit events draw a varied background of attendees, with more advertisers than you might find at most conferences. Because the conference is so large, it means two things: first, that you're virtually guaranteed to find people working in your area; and second, that you're virtually guaranteed to meet a lot of people doing things you've never even heard of, despite the fact that you're in the same industry. The diverse field makes ASW a great place to develop a holistic perspective of the industry or double down and focus on taking your current business to new levels.
Learn from the organizers
When we built our Affiliate Summit East - New York guide, we reached out to Shawn Collins and Missy Ward, the founders of the conference series. Their insight is incredibly valuable and - despite the focus on New York - can help you bring a positive networking mindset to Vegas:
- Shawn Collins on getting the most from your Affiliate Summit experience
- Missy Ward offers advice for newcomers and often-overlooked travel tips
The schedule is packed with experts from all across the affiliate marketing industry. The full schedule is already available online, along with a full list of speakers, so you should start digging through the list already to ensure you don’t miss the talks that are most relevant to your business.
Zac Johnson on the power of networking and the growth of Affiliate Summit
Zac Johnson is a powerhouse blogger and highly respected innovator in the affiliate industry. He’s built a blogging brand that has become its own empire, extending far beyond the basics to capture new opportunities and trends before anyone else. He’s on the forefront of the affiliate and blogging industries, and has been a featured speaker at Affiliate Summit conferences for many, many years.
You’ll have a hard time finding someone who is more informed and current on the industry, yet brings the level of experience Zac does. Here’s what he has to say about ASW18:
1. You’ve been making money online since you were 15 and have grown one of the largest audiences in the blogging world… and show no signs of slowing down. How do you remain consistently successful despite the fast pace of online marketing?
It is quite crazy to think that I've been doing this for more than 20 years now. However, just like anything in life, if you enjoy what you are doing, you are going to put in your full effort and never stop doing it. Just think about whatever it is you really enjoy in life and were given the opportunity to get paid while doing on a daily basis.
A good example (yet more practical) that applies with most people is being a celebrity or a professional sports athletes and getting paid millions of dollars to do what you already enjoy. Money is always good, but more importantly the time and freedom that you have is more precious than anything else.
Having my own business and being able to work from the comfort of my own home has been quite amazing. Referencing back to everything I said above, I still find just as much enjoyment and success today as I did when I first started out. At the same time, it's definitely hard work and a full-time job. Many people will give off this vibe of a “laptop lifestyle’ and traveling the world while making millions of dollars in the process, however, that really isn't the case. If you want to find continued success, you need to actually work for it.
2. What do you expect to be the hot topics at ASW this year? Any trends affiliates should keep an eye on?
I think we are going to keep seeing more affiliate marketers continue to make the transition from simply being an affiliate marketer, to coming out with brands of their own like we have in previous years. In the past, this was often affiliates making the transition to starting their own affiliate network, but now it's simply makes more sense to create your own product and build something that you can sell over time.
The benefit here is that you are actually building something of your own, and not pushing leads and sales to another business. It's not just a matter of putting this concept into play, it's also about working with companies that can help automate the process and eliminate headaches as well.
3. You’re a strong advocate of networking, having attended your first conference nearly two decades ago. What’s your secret for maximizing value from networking events?
Attending conferences and networking are definitely a huge impact to any successful business or individual entrepreneur. At first, it might be tough for you to mingle with others and actually go up to someone you don’t know and start talking, but this is something that you will get better with overtime.
At the same time, a huge benefit in attending conferences comes from the actual networking and relationships that you build, versus actually attending sessions and engaging in a one-way conversation. Some sessions are great, but if they are the only thing you focus on, you are going to miss out on the big picture.
Also, make sure to bring business cards and follow up with everyone that you've met after the event. You never know what opportunities may come up as a result of simply saying hello to someone, so leave a great first impression and network with as many people as possible.
4. Is there anything you’re looking forward to (or hoping to avoid) in Las Vegas?
More than anything else, attending conferences is usually the same old thing for anyone that has been through the process several times. One of the best takeaways and benefits are within the surprise meetings or interactions that you will have with people or brands that you didn't even expect to meet up with. This often happens through friend recommendations or randomly meeting others in the exhibit hall.
Having been to Las Vegas several times now, it's a great place the first few times around, but it can get old quite quickly. If you feel the same, be sure to invest some time in preparing for your trip and finding one or two unique things to see or do on each visit.
Lastly, Affiliate Summit West is a great way for me to connect with others I haven't seen in awhile, and continually provides me with new opportunities to meet new people and come up with new ideas and ways to expand my business in the process.
5. Your session at ASW 2018 features some of the biggest names in blogging today, all in one room. What can attendees expect to take away from the session?
The seven-figure blogger panel has been one of the most successful, beneficial, and longest running sessions at Affiliate Summit East and West over the past several years. This year we have Jeremy Shoemaker on the panel along with Syed Balkhi, and of course John Chow. I have no doubt in saying that this is one of the best collections of industry veterans that can be found at Affiliate Summit, while also providing value to the audience through open Q&A and not giving basic information that no one is interested in.
Not only has the session continually been rated amongst the best sessions year after year, it’s also one that is often standing room only and goes beyond it’s allotted time. Another important thing to point out, is that all panelists always stick around after the session and speak with anyone who is interesting in meeting up or learning more.
- Learn more about Zac on his blog: zacjohnson.com
Bill Rothbard on the turbulent FTC landscape and advertising law
Bill Rothbard has worked in advertising law for decades - but unlike many of his peers, he saw the value of affiliate conferences immediately, and attends many of the top events to stay up-to-date. Few legal experts are capable of bringing his level of experience and engagement in the affiliate community to the table.
As you are aware, FTC laws and advertising regulations affect our industry heavily. They’re one of the least-discussed aspects, yet are powerful enough to shutter a business overnight. Bill gives us some flavorful insight into what we can expect in coming years, and how to stay afloat as an advertiser in a dynamic industry:
1. You have practiced advertising law for nearly 4 decades, including time as a Senior FTC Official and as Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. What is the most interesting change you’ve noticed in advertising during this period?
My career in advertising law has seen enormous change in the industry – from deregulation of commercial programming time in the 1980s, which gave birth to Direct Response marketing and ushered in the Era of the Informercial, to the dawn of the Internet and migration from offline to online advertising, which continues at a torrid pace.
Pre-Internet, my client base was 100% DRTV, radio and print. Today, it is almost the exact reverse. Along with these radical changes in advertising, there has been radical change in how the FTC regulates advertising. When I was at the FTC in the late 70s and 80s, industrywide rulemaking, involving gigantic battles against powerful special interests and their backers in Congress, was the dominant mode of enforcement. Beginning in the 90s and continuing through today, case-by-case enforcement, usually against midsize and smaller businesses rather than Fortune 500 types, became the FTC’s primary mode of attack. It relies on well-publicized multimillion dollar settlements and conduct bans against companies and individuals to deter other would-be wrongdoers by “sending a message” that they could be next. It has worked with some success, but the Internet and number of online marketers is so vast – so much greater than in the analogue age – that the FTC and state consumer protection regulators are always playing a game of catchup.
2. You’ve spoken at many Affiliate Summit events over the years. What keeps bringing you back?
The Free Pass for being a Speaker. Seriously, for anyone doing business in digital advertising, including FTC advertising lawyers like myself, AS is a “must attend” event. It’s an opportunity to meet up in person with current and prospective clients and generally mingle, pick up on new advertising and marketing trends, and share new information on FTC and state consumer protection developments with folks in the industry. And I enjoy public speaking, whether it’s a panel presentation, Ask the Experts, or this year, the Early Bird Roundtable.
3. What can affiliates and advertisers expect to learn from your networking round table at ASW 2018?
In a nutshell, a roundup of FTC enforcement activity in the first year of the Trump Administration, with a special focus on supplement and free trial continuity marketing, which remains a top FTC priority, and tips on how to be FTC-compliant. To learn more, people can meet me bright and early at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning for the Early Bird Roundtable.
4. There are currently only two FTC Commissioners - at a time in which new products are being introduced online by the hundreds each day. How do you see this affecting the pace of new regulations, and what does it mean for online advertisers working in nascent industries?
It has been a strange year in FTC Land with only two FTC Commissioners and 3 vacancies.
In most voting bodies it takes a majority to form a quorum, but by a quirk in FTC rules, a minority is enough so the agency has been able to still function. After a slow first few months under the new Republican Acting Chairperson, the FTC found its sea legs this summer and fall with the issuance of a slew of new cases and settlements, including several in the supplements and free trial space. It is continuing to focus mainly on so-called “fraud” cases causing substantial harm to consumers, of which the FTC considers supplement claims and negative option marketing to be a part.
Online marketers of nascent products, particularly ones providing valuable and innovative benefits to consumers (i.e., self-monitoring health apps), probably have less to worry about than established verticals like supplements, as long as they don’t make wild claims and avoid free trial continuity (or at least do it compliantly).
President Trump finally has nominated a permanent FTC chair and two others to fill the vacancies, which will bring the agency back to full strength sometime in 2018. The new Chair is an antitrust expert so his views on consumer protection and online advertising regulation are not well known. With new leadership taking the helm, we can expect 2018 to be a further year of transition at the FTC, with an unclear consumer protection agenda. Supplement and free trial marketers should not breath easy, though. 2017 was also a year of transition, but one in which the FTC still continued to make alleged “fraudsters” pay a heavy price. We can expect more of the same in 2018 and beyond.
5. Is there anything you’re looking forward to (or hoping to avoid) in Las Vegas?
The gambling tables. I’ll let your readers decide whether it’s the former or the latter in your question.
- Learn more about Bill and FTC advertising law at ftcadlaw.com and be sure to attend his networking round table on 7 January at 8:30am.
Michael Benedek on regaining sales that you may not even realize you're losing
Do you ever have the suspicion that your marketing is working well, but your conversions aren’t adding up? Of course! But do you ever consider that your prospects may simply be switching devices to complete the purchase you’ve rightfully earned?
Michael Benedek, CEO of Datonics, certainly has. His talk at ASW will focus on cross-device attribution - the process of ensuring that affiliates maintain credit for sales earned on one device but completed on another. There have been some exciting developments in this field, and Michael has thoughts…
1. You’re the President and CEO of a data marketplace, Datonics. Have you noticed any interesting ways in which independent affiliates are taking advantage of big data?
Independent affiliates are becoming more savvy with their data. One area in particular that is maturing and that I’m very excited about is cross-device attribution, which is enabled by a dynamic device graph that leverages big data among the inputs. Another interesting area is third-party data, which enables performance-based advertisers to identify, engage, and more effectively target their desired audience.
2. Many affiliates work hard to earn sales, just to see their attribution disappear when the customer completes the purchase on a different device. Can affiliates be doing anything right now to prevent those lost conversions?
Absolutely! The challenge you describe is exactly the one we help affiliates solve! The key to this challenge is homing in on cross-device attribution. By seeing on which devices purchases are happening and how a customer came to make a purchasing decision, affiliates can set themselves up for success in the future.
3. You’ve moved between Canada, Israel and the USA during your career, along with holding an MA in International Affairs. How have your travels affected your approach to the digital world?
I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to live in all three places and travel to many other spots for work and fun. I love learning about different people and their cultures, and I feel these experiences have helped me to connect with all the different people I meet for business. One thing I love about the digital industry is how open-minded people are. The space moves fast and if you’re not open to trying new things, you’re likely to fall behind. It has been a great ride so far and looking forward to many exciting years ahead meeting new folks in different places.
4. Is there anything you’re looking forward to (or hoping to avoid) in Las Vegas?
I’m looking forward to meeting old and new friends from the industry, seeing some shows, eating great food, possibly seeing the Hoover Dam and getting away from the Northeast cold.
5. Your networking roundtable will go into the details of cross-device attribution. Who should attend, and what can they expect to learn?
The discussion has something for everyone. We plan to cover three main topics including: single-device attribution, cross-device attribution and the importance of view-through across devices. There will be an opportunity to also cover whatever the attendees have questions about. One of the best learning opportunities at the show is to swap stories and learn from one another. The roundtable discussion is an excellent place to do just that.
- Learn more about Michael's company, Datonics, and be sure to attend his networking round table on 7 January at 8:30am.
Pat Asbra on adapting to new media and the staying power of email
Sales veteran Pat Asbra’s career spans more than 20 years in direct sales, print, and advertising, with extensive focus on email marketing. He is the driving force behind sales and growth at UnsubCentral, a suppression list management service for brands and affiliate networks.
We asked him about email and changes in the affiliate scene over the years. Why has email survived over the years? What makes affiliate marketing so powerful in the digital age? What channels should we be looking at? Pat’s take on these issues offers valuable insight from a position of experience:
Many marketing channels have appeared and disappeared in the time since your career began, but email is as strong as ever. Why do you think email marketing has managed to thrive?
The strength of email comes down to a few things –
i. It has established itself as a unique and powerful id which can be appended and matched across the web, social networks and offline.
ii. Mobile – Email has adapted extremely well to a mobile world.
iii. Portable – Email is not tied to a physical location such as a physical address. It goes with you wherever you live so thus marketers have the confidence they are reaching you.
iv. Actionable & Measurable – The health of an email address is immediate. You instantly see opens and clicks, which on the flip side if there is a lack of action over a short period you can make decisions much more quickly versus a postal address append.
UnsubCentral and its parent company, PostUp, have been represented at Affiliate Summit events many times. How have you seen the affiliate community change over the years?
Since affiliate marketing is a direct marketing and performance based ecosystem I think it has held up well compared to traditional CPM-based brand advertising. Affiliate marketing, although challenged with fraud, ultimately is a productive because enterprises can manage to a much more defined cost of sale. Affiliate marketers are such strong entrepreneurs; they adapt early to new channels like Facebook and adjust quickly to mobile. As media channels continue to expand and there is more and more data, affiliates will always be leaders.
Do you predict any significant upcoming challenges for affiliates who rely on email marketing?
I think the challenges are well known and the challenges will remain the right offer to the right person at the right cost of sales.
Is there anything you’re looking forward to (or hoping to avoid) in Las Vegas?
I’m looking forward to seeing how affiliates are adapting new channels like Snapchat and evolving in channels such as Facebook and Pinterest. I’m looking for direct relationships with brands and lead generators so I want to avoid the middleman trying to broker an opportunity I could find directly.
Your networking roundtable is focused on emailing safely with affiliates. Who will get the most out of it, and what can they expect to take away?
I think the brands that care about customer experience and compliance. We all know the importance of CAN-SPAM, however with UnsubCentral’s ability to manage “smart lists” affiliates can also use UC to not email a promotion to their customer lists.
- Learn more about Pat and UnsubCentral and be sure to attend Pat's networking round table on 7 January at 8:30am.
Mariam Barnes on recruiting the right team through changes in the industry
As more and more independent affiliates build out teams and work toward professionalizing their businesses, important questions - ones that they never had to confront on the campaign front lines - start popping up. One of the biggest: how do you build a team in a stable way? We know the importance of people in this industry... but how does that translate to roles within a team? How do you find top-quality employees - or, from the other perspective, a top-notch job - in an industry that constantly changes?
Mariam Barnes has answers. Her years of hands-on experience in digital marketing recruiting has helped her identify pain points, predict trends and help both entrepreneurs and big tech companies attract the type of talent that will bring them to the next level. She'll give her exclusive perspective to both job-seekers and employers at ASW 2018. She gave us a bit of a preview - and anyone taking their professional development in our industry seriously should pay close attention:
1. You’ve been entrenched in the online marketing community years, with noted success as a recruiter and blogger. What keeps you rooted in the tech industry?
I started working in our industry when I was just 19 years old (I won't tell you how many years ago that was). I feel like I grew up WITH the industry, and I have met colleagues along the way that have not only become friends, but family. I love that people in our industry are always hustling to make money, there is something exciting about that to me. We all work our butts off and HOPE there is a big pay off at the end.
2. What are the biggest challenges affiliate marketing companies face when recruiting?
Trust. A lot of candidates have been burned by companies that have been full of empty promises, and it's really difficult to convince someone with great experience to join a new team. However it goes both ways. A lot of candidates oversell themselves in the interview process, and employers have been burned as well. This pattern has caused a lot of distrust in the hiring process, which is a challenge now. After interviewing hundreds (if not thousands) of people in our industry, I have become really good at identifying the red flags with candidates. There are a few "go to" responses that you may hear when someone is covering up being fired. For example: "We agreed mutually to part ways." That would almost never happen, because if a candidate quits a job, they would usually do so after having another job lined up; if they are smart. If they just "mutually parted ways" and had no other job lined up, than they were likely fired or on the verge of getting fired, OR just not smart. In either case, this is a big red flag answer that should be investigated further.
3. What trends in the affiliate industry are you noticing? Are there particular skills for which you expect demand to increase in coming years?
Our industry has always heavily relied on Sales people to generate revenue, but technology is starting to replace a lot of the relationship component that used to weigh so heavily. For example, Programmatic is changing our business. It is like the "robot replacing people" in some cases. Programmatic advertising is automated buying/optimization. Thus a lot of companies are not using teams of people for buying, analytics or optimization. If you want to stay in the game, you will have to learn advertising technology, not just brokering ad space.
4. Is there anything you’re looking forward to (or hoping to avoid) in Las Vegas?
This is one of the first years that I will get to enjoy the show instead of stress out about what I need to be prepared for. I will get to walk the floor, and chat with all of the sponsors. There are also several speakers I am excited to hear.
5. What can attendees expect to learn from your networking round table at ASW 2018?
For employers: How to hire without a recruiter. What compensations they should expect to pay...etc. For potential job seekers I am speaking about how to build a strong resume to get noticed, and important things to address in an interview.
- Learn more about aditjobs, the tech recruitment company Mariam co-founded, and be sure to catch her networking round table on 7 January.
2. PREPARING FOR SIN CITY
If it’s your style to show up late and unready, that’s fine – Vegas will still show you a good time. But expect headaches. Las Vegas hands them out in more than just hangovers.
Avoid the nastiest of the unpleasant by knocking out these essential tasks before you take off:
Booking a flight
Suggestions vary on the best way to fly in, and it really depends on where you’re coming from. It’s worth considering hidden city ticketing in your research strategy. It might be significantly cheaper to book a flight to a larger hub like Los Angeles (LAX) or Salt Lake City (SLC) before hopping to Vegas. Getting two separate flights can often be cheaper and faster than booking direct. SkipLagged was built specifically to find these secret solutions – we found similar prices to those on Google in our search, but it’s worth checking out.
That said, you should be keeping more than just price in mind – your comfort is key, and getting a fresh start to the conference begins with a smart flight itinerary. Some airlines may not offer direct flights to Vegas (KLM, we’re looking at you); they’ll often break up the flights in such a way that you never get a fair chance to rest on the plane. If you’re coming from far away, guarantee a restful flight by booking your first leg directly to LAX or SLC.
Booking a hotel
There are always rooms available in Vegas, but there are some you really don’t want to end up in. You should book your hotel as soon as you get your ticket. ASW offers hotel recommendations – that's a good starting point.
Average prices near the Paris Hotel (where ASW18 is taking place) range from $89 at the TraveLodge to $1200 for a luxury loft at the MGM Grand. With a bit of research, you should be able to find a nice room nearby for around $150/night. If you’re willing to walk and potentially deal with strange noises in the night, that price could drop plenty.
These are the hotels we personally recommend:
- The Cosmopolitan: This is one of the newest additions to the Strip, and it hasn’t come quietly. Right next door to the Paris (ASW) and overflowing with luxury amenities, it’s ideal for anyone looking to enjoy the high life (and avoid long walks to hotspots/meetings). It’s also where Advidi is staying!
- Wynn Las Vegas (Encore): Also nearby and recommended by those of us who have stayed there in the past, Wynn Las Vegas balances luxury with proximity to the action. It’s around the same price as the Cosmo, and just as worth it.
- Aria: A popular choice for those who want the feeling of luxury but prefer the price to be toned down a bit. Also close to the events.
- Hard Rock Hotel: This is where interNEXT, a Dating affiliate conference, is going down later in the month. It’s just off the Strip and nicely priced.
Looking to avoid the casino vibe? No problem. There are plenty of places to stay that don’t include a casino on-site.
Note: If you play, don’t pay! If you plan on gaming a fair amount, look into getting your room comped. It’s quite common and you don’t have to lose as much as you think – there are some clever tricks for breaking even without missing out on a drop of adrenaline.
Heads up on ASW hotel scammers
There have been some alerts regarding scammers who are not affiliated with ASW using public information to try to sell hotel rooms and other services to attendees at inflated prices. Read ASW’s scam warning if an offer smells fishy.
Getting a visa
This depends on where you’re traveling from. Obviously, US citizens have no worries. For almost everyone else, there’s ESTA – the Visa Waiver Program that allows visitors from select countries to bypass typical visa procedures for travel purposes. See if your country is eligible and apply online.
Along with the basics, here are some easily forgotten/Vegas-specific items you should add to your list:
- Earplugs (trust us on this one…)
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Phone charger + portable phone charger
- Notepad & pens
- One nice outfit – including dress shoes (many places require it)
- Bathing suit (most hotels have pools)
- Cash, if possible! ATMs on the Strip are expensive
You may also want to consider a safe place to keep your cash if you plan on gambling – fashion takes a backseat to protecting your winnings with this approach. Don’t worry, all the serious gamers wear fanny packs. That person giving you a funny look is just jelly.
Average January temperatures in Las Vegas range from 8-15 Celsius (45-60 Fahrenheit). There will be plenty of air conditioning, so while the weather won’t be very wintery, you should plan on wearing a few light layers.
Most important consideration for your luggage: comfortable walking shoes! You’ll walk a lot more than you expect. The city is built to keep you in its grasp for as long as possible.
Arriving from the airport
Shortly after arriving in Vegas and just after you’ve gotten over the smell (just kidding, there’s no smell – or is there?), you’ll need to get to your hotel. You have two choices:
- Traditional option: Taxi, reserved in advance
- Baller option: Limousine/SUV, reserved in advance
- Smarter option: schedule an Uber or schedule a Lyft (cheaper and better)
You’ll find that we’re more focused on smart spending in this guide, because anyone routinely choosing baller options probably has their own agenda anyway. That said, there isn’t a huge price difference between a limo and a taxi coming from the airport, so if you’re traveling in a group, check out limo service options. Many include a return trip and even champagne. Why not arrive in style?
That said, no matter what you do… reserve your trip from the airport in advance. The lines for a taxi get insane.
3. MAXIMIZE YOUR EXPERIENCE
It would be a shame to come all the way to Vegas, invest a ton in tickets and hotel accommodations… just to end up with a hazy memory and nothing valuable to show for it. You can still have fun while getting full value from the conference! Just be sure you’re planning to do so – don’t wait until it’s too late to find out how unprepared you were.
Do your research
Before coming to the conference, you should know exactly what you want to get out of it. If you’re looking to network, do some research about who might be coming. Schedule meetings in advance. If you just want to learn, check out the full event schedule for Affiliate Summit West to find speakers and booths that are relevant to your industry.
As usual, the folks at ASW have gone the extra mile to help you organize your networking activities. The ASW18 Networking Tools were created specifically to help you connect with like-minded attendees.
Getting around/budgeting time
This might be the most useful tip you get from this guide, especially if you’ve never been to Vegas: Las Vegas is amazing. Literally. It’s a maze.
Don’t be fooled by Google Maps. It will take you 2x-3x longer than it seems to get anywhere. Even short distances can be nightmarish if you’re running late. The city is built like this on purpose. One casino logically concludes where the next one begins. Shopping malls intersperse with celebrity restaurants and lead into more casinos and hotels you hadn’t even noticed on your map.
We recommend a few ways to get around Vegas:
- Walking: If you’re near the conference, walking is perfectly viable. Just heed our advice about scheduling a bit of extra time and plan your route beforehand. It’s fun to get lost, but it’s not fun to miss out on important events. Plan a bit of “getting lost” time soon after arriving to the city – it will help you feel more confident (and less curious) when it’s crunch time.
- Use Uber or Lyft. Both options are available in Vegas and are way better and cheaper than taking taxis.
- Renting a car: If you’re planning on doing sightseeing outside the city (or even making the drive over to Los Angeles or the Grand Canyon), you might want to consider a car rental. Average prices are around $30/day for basic options.
- Public transport: For those staying a bit further out and planning to come into town once or twice a day, the public transport system has your answer. Figure out your options online before coming.
- Limo service: As with arriving from the airport, getting around town isn’t that much more expensive than a taxi. Consider pooling together to add your own flash to the sparkling lights on the Strip. Luxury can be had for as low as $30/hour.
Map of Las Vegas
To help you get around, we’ve put together a Google Map of hotspots and hotels worth checking out:
Direct link to the map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1OZxLgChp5S4ZJNV01yPhHwjisX4&usp=sharing
When scheduling meetings, there’s really one main rule in Vegas:
Give a specific location and time!
Imagine: you’re already five minutes late to an important meeting you’ve been waiting the whole conference for. You still managed to underestimate how long it would take to get 200 meters in Vegas (even though you read this guide and were fully prepared), but it’s alright now, because you’ve made it…
…then you walk in…
…and you realize you’re screwed. There’s no way you’ll find your contact past the herd of elephants blocking the series of fifteen escalators leading to a twisting maze of flashing casinos, Eiffel towers, kiosks, bars, shops, shows, entrances, exits and other distractions from where your meeting might be taking place.
The lobbies of most hotels are massive. Actually, pretty much everything is massive.
Here’s how to avoid missing a meeting:
- Exchange contact details just in case
- Look up the hotel/lobby/restaurant first
- Name a specific location
Ideally, you should make a reservation somewhere. Allow a few extra minutes for your guest to get lost or disrupted by a herd of elephants.
Note that some restaurants double as clubs. They'll blast loud music throughout the place while a few tables to the side are reserved for eating. If you want a quiet setting for your business meeting, check ahead to see what the atmosphere will be like or consider a coffee shop.
Oh… and don’t schedule meetings before noon.
It just won’t happen. Chances of both parties being fresh and ready to talk business are slim even if all are in attendance.
3 Steps to avoiding jet lag and show-stopping hangovers
While it’s a myth that casinos pump rooms full of oxygen to keep you wired, it’s very true that the whole place is carefully designed to keep you happy, tipsy and spending money. That’s fine – you’re in Vegas, so you might as well enjoy yourself. Just find the balance point so you stay fresh and ready throughout the events:
1. Don’t peak too early
Many first-timers get excited and get wasted enough to last the rest of the conference on the first night. Fun the night of, terrible for days afterward. With the desert conditions and intensity of the action around you, it’s much smarter to play conservatively on the first night or two. Once you’re accustomed to the scene, you can start upping your game.
2. Keep your routine
The best way to battle jet lag and hangovers is to stay in your normal routine. That means:
- Eat at normal times
- Drink lots of water
- Get at least a little bit of sleep on a regular basis
- Visit the gym
- Limit fast food (seriously! There’s lots of good food and you’ll be thankful)
- Get lots of sunshine or take Vitamin D supplements (you’ll be indoors a lot)
3. Drink lots of water
Yes, that was on the last list, but it bears repeating. The conditions are arid, especially in the casinos. Bring lip balm and drink plenty of water to keep yourself fresh and running on a regular clock.
4. GETTING LOST IN VEGAS
Yes! Who are we kidding? It's Vegas, baby. Part of making any investment is that you want it to benefit you – and while careful attention at the conferences will help you make more money, making money isn’t a benefit… it’s a means to an end. And Vegas is full of ends…
Here are some of the most unique and luxurious benefits to spend your hard-earned means on:
8 tips on gambling
If you’re coming to gamble, you probably already have a plan. If not, these are the 8 most useful tips we could find about gambling in Vegas:
- You must be 21 to gamble or drink. This is non-negotiable and will land you and the casino in hot water if skirted. That said, what happens in Vegas is none of our business, so… you’ve been informed, and that’s as far as we’ll go.
- Act like a local, unless you’re surrounded by them – then leave. Locals who gamble tend to do so because they’re good at it – or, at the least, better than you. If you sit with a group and the dealer is calling them all by name (and they’re all using the right lingo – like “gaming” instead of “gambling”), go lose your money somewhere else – where it isn’t a sure bet.
- Gamblers get free booze. It’s a smart way to get tipsy before taking on the town. You don’t need to hit up the high-roller joints. Even penny slots will hook you up. Consider it an investment?
- Know your game before going. At least if you want a chance at keeping your money. Many will come and take a few spins of a wheel somewhere, lose $50 and go home laughing it off. Others come with intention. If you want to succeed, pick a game (baccarat or blackjack are popular) and learn the ropes on the flight over. And even if you’re already an expert, the next tip still applies…
- Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose. As a successful affiliate, this is probably already burned into your brain somewhere. But it bears repeating. Gambling is never an investment; unlike campaigns, you don’t get any insight from getting screwed on the river or a dealer blackjack. Side tip: if you’re down $50, the way to earn it back is not by risking another $50. Consider yourself a winner for not going down that rabbit hole.
- Research your hotel if you plan on gaming where you stay. Some hotels don’t even have a casino, and though most do, not all are born equal. Check out comps, available games and more on their website before booking.
- Get something for the money you’re losing. Every casino has a reward program of some sort. Don’t miss out on getting compensated for the money you’re spinning away. The more you lose, the better the booze!
- Have fun, yo. At the end of the day, the happiest gamblers hit even and enjoy a great experience for free. As long as you set limits and come with the right mindset, you’ll walk away as one of the most unique types of people in the whole city: a winner.
Eating (Food & Restaurants)
Hungry? You will be… and those shrimp cocktails are gonna lose their appeal within a few bites. Here are our top tips for grabbing a bite in Vegas - and remember, they can all be found on our map of Vegas:
Breakfast and lunch
- Egg Slut: Wake up a bit late? No problem. Egg… uh… Egg… Egg Slut has your back. This is the place to be for breakfast lovers - it’s open all day!
Find Egg Slut at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.
- Bruxie: It’s all about waffles… chicken, fruit, round, square. You name it, Bruxie serves it. Nice spot for breakfast and lunch.
Location: 3782 S Las Vegas Blvd | Website: bruxie.com
- EAT: Perhaps the healthiest places in all of Vegas (not saying much, but it’s good stuff). Go here for breakfast or lunch if you want to cure your hangover!
Location: 707 Carson Ave | Website: eatdtlv.com
Burgers & hot dogs
- Shake Shack: The infamous burger chain. Low budget, good for a quick snack.
Location: 3790 S Las Vegas Blvd | Website: shakeshack.com
- Beerhaus: Comfort food with a European-American vibe. Nice selection of local beers from Vegas on the menu.
Location: 3784 Las Vegas Boulevard S | Website: https://www.theparkvegas.com/en/restaurants/beerhaus.html
- Dog Haus: The place to be for hot dogs and sausages! The terrace features a full view of the old strip - great for people watching!
Location: 4480 Paradise Road | Website: thedoghouseboutique.com
- Bachi Burger: The best place for gourmet burgers in town! A great alternative to the Shake Shack, but don’t get too proud of yourself - it’s still a burger, dude.
Location: 9410 W Sahara Ave #150 | Website: bachiburger.com
When you've had enough burgers & hot dogs...
- Soulfish Poké: Super fresh and healthy raw fish Poke bowls.
Location: 9500 S Eastern Ave | Website: facebook.com/soulfishpokehenderson
- Le Thai: Popular Thai spot in the Fremont area.
Location: 523 Fremont St | Website: lethaivegas.com
- Le Pho: Modern Vietnamese kitchen.
Location: 353 E Bonneville Ave #115 | Website: lephodtlv.com
- China Poblano: Itching for some of that famous Chinese food America is known for? Or are you looking forward to those authentic Mexican tacos? At China Poblano, your conundrum is answered with a question: Why not both?
Location: 3708 S Las Vegas Blvd | Website: chinapoblano.com
- La Comida: Great bar for cocktails and tacos - a winning combo.
Location: 100 S 6th St | Website: lacomidalv.com
Bring your wallet and dress up for...
- Bouchon: One of the best French restaurants in Vegas. Great for fine-dining meetings.
Location: 3355 S Las Vegas Blvd | Website: http://www.venetian.com/restaurants/french/bouchon.html
- Blue Ribbon Sushi: "The restaurant where chefs go to eat" - this concept is based on the original SoHo Blue Ribbon, with oysters and a saloon vibe.
Location: 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard S. | Website: blueribbonrestaurants.com
- Joël Robuchon Restaurant: Make sure you make a reservation in time.
Location: 3799 S Las Vegas Blvd | Website: https://www.mgmgrand.com/cn/en/restaurants/joel-robuchon-french-restaurant.html
Drinking (Bars & Casinos)
Many myths come true in Las Vegas, and our personal favorite is the classic tease of “free beer tomorrow” – and guess what? In Vegas, today and tomorrow are pretty much the same thing. And that means free beer!
For those of age, drinking for free at casinos before a night out is a very common activity. Plop down, pull out your pennies (or pink slips) and get plastered – then go out on the town.
Beyond that, there must be millions of places to wet your whistle nestled throughout Sin City. As you do, consider this advice:
- Don’t forget that you can take your alcoholic beverage with you, allowing you wander from one bar/casino to the next without missing a sip.
- Tip your bartender/server – especially if s/he is helping you booze it up for free. It’s common courtesy that will take you far.
- Bottle service is common at many clubs. Expect wild prices – though running up this $189K tab at the Wynn must have taken some intention.
- For a more classic experience, wander off the Strip to Downtown Las Vegas (aka “Old Vegas”) and check out Fremont Street. The area is seeing a revival; this TripAdvisor thread offers a solid discussion regarding the differences between the Strip and Old Vegas.
If you get a little over-zealous, don’t worry. Hangover cures abound – from standard DIY (room service, a shower and vitamins) to intravenous medical hangover remedies administered in your hotel room. Effective? Probably. Worth the story? Definitely.
When it comes to clubbing, Vegas is high up on the prestige list. However, your gender will determine your path of resistance when it comes to getting in. I know this will blow your mind, but women typically get in free while men usually pay entrance or are required to buy a bottle.
Places we personally recommend from experience:
This list offers plenty more clubs to check out (many of which don’t require a cover).
Regarding dress codes: most places allow t-shirts and jeans, but always check online before you go. One thing you probably won’t get away with: those comfortable walking shoes we urged you to bring. Those are for the daytime; bust out your best shoes if you go clubbing.
You’ve heard it before:
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Some will take this to heart – if you’re among them, we’ve got some advice for you about how to find love (or something like it) in Vegas. Big thanks to Gerard aka Mr. Romance for his input!
- In Vegas, there’s a very strong VIP vibe. Many come from around the world to feel like they’re part of something special – you’ll find a lot of high-class women and men at big-name DJ events and well-known VIP clubs if that’s your goal.
- The city attracts all types; sure, it’s got plenty of models, but tourists come from all over. Be aware of this and know who you’re looking to meet. We all know models love bottles, but if that’s not your type, try hitting up some local spots or hotel lobbies, where all types come to mingle. The approach in this setting is different: skip the pickup lines and go with a more personal approach.
- Tipping is a great way to gain attention. From Mr. Romance: One Romance trick is to tip your VIP host, Nightclub Manager or Security (at least $50 each) and ask them to please bring any groups of solo girls in the club to your table. Of course, you shouldn’t expect anything simply because you’re spending money, but add a little charm to your flash and you’re sure to get some attention.
Getting married in Vegas
Your romance adventures have gone really well, huh? You’ve seen it in the movies - and yes, it’s real. You can get married 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to just about anyone.
If it’s time for you to pop the question and seal the deal in the same evening, check out this guide to getting married in Vegas.
Beyond the strip
Outside of the main drag, you’ll find lots of unique activities that go beyond the basics (drinking, gambling and getting lost). Some are worth a day trip, while others can be fit into an afternoon:
Want to test drive your next ride? How about in a high-speed exotic race with a group of friends? There’s no better acid test than the rush of adrenaline that comes with a photo finish to a 20-lap 200mph race.
- SpeedVegas: One of the newest additions to the racing scene, this one is located close to the Strip and comes recommended by our readers. At 1.5 miles, it boasts the longest track in town.
- Exotics Racing: From supercars and VIP experience packages to driving lessons and crazy ride-alongs, Exotics Racing seems to have figured out a way to overload each chassis with adrenaline.
- Dream Racing: These guys claim to have the largest selection in the world, so if you’ve got your heart set on a particular make or model, give them a shot first.
Not exciting enough for you? Consider a dune buggy race through the desert. The Sun Buggy Mini Baja Chase Dune Buggy Adventure is impressive for more than just its ridiculously long name and terribly outdated website: it looks absolutely awesome.
First off, Nevada is an open carry state. That means it is legal to carry guns in public. Scary? Naw. Welcome to America! You probably won’t come across much open carrying, as those who receive a permit to do so tend to also be the type who know it’s not smart to wave around a gun. That said, don’t be shocked if you see a semi-automatic popping from granny’s purse as she pushes pennies into the slots.
If you want to get in on the action yourself, check out one of the many gun ranges Las Vegas has to offer. Check out Yelp reviews to see what people prefer, but note that pretty much all of them have the same selling point: you can shoot a machine gun here. Don’t worry… it’s 100% safe (as long as you don’t get shot).
Golf and gambling go hand in hand. For those of you looking to hit the links between roulette spins and drinks, check out this list of golf courses near the Strip. If you don’t want to commit a full day, there are a number of driving ranges that feature a great atmosphere for networking as well; from personal experience, we recommend Topgolf in the MGM Grand.
The Grand Canyon is a short hop from Vegas, and if you haven’t experienced its stunning grandeur, a trip to ASW18 may be your best chance.
There are a few ways to go about it, but we recommend flying high above the stunning lows in a helicopter or airplane ride over the Grand Canyon. Most trips leaving from Vegas are fly-overs, so for the donkey trip, you may want to set aside an extra day or two and stay near the canyon.
Did we save the best for last or what? Words aren’t good enough, but we’ll try: for a price, you can engage in your own mock airplane battle above a desert landscape. That involves you and your friend, in real airplanes, really shooting fake bullets at each other – complete with crash effects.
The cost to be the pilot starts at $800; if you’re afraid of the action but still want to see what’s going down, you can spectate from a nearby plane for $250.
Check out their website for more videos of the action.
We’re not the only ones hocking prescriptive how-tos on enjoying Vegas. In our research, we found a couple other perspectives that you might find useful:
- ASW Blog: All the latest updates and tips directly from Shawn Collins, Missy Ward and the ASW team.
- The VICE Guide to Las Vegas: Get the low-down on the down-and-dirty aspects of the city.
- Guide to Tipping in Las Vegas: Get ahead by learning about tipping properly.
- Vegas Guy: Trustworthy gambling advice from locals.
- Essential Las Vegas Tips: Mainstream travel advice from locals. Obvious affiliate, but more useful than you might think!
Top 10 tips
In a hurry? Don’t miss these 10 most important tips:
- Consider flying into SLC or LAX rather than directly to Vegas. Those are major hubs and offer short hops to Vegas. Smart planning could cut your flight costs in half!
- Hotels near the conferences get booked fast. If you haven’t yet, book your hotel now. (Like, right now. Start here: ASW’s hotel recommendation.)
- Wear comfortable clothing. The weather will likely be sunny and around 10-15° C. This includes good walking shoes – but trade them for something fancier if you plan on visiting a club.
- The Strip is deceptively big. Google Maps does no justice to the crowds and twisting turns you’ll have to overcome. Triple your walking estimates and plan ahead using our map.
- Don’t peak too early. Plan your schedule and party accordingly.
- Keep to your routine to avoid jet lag and mean hangovers. Eat at normal times, don’t skip the gym, get plenty of sunshine.
- The lobbies of some hotels are city-sized. Share contact details before meeting and specify precise locations.
- The city runs on gratuity (tips). Almost everyone will expect a bit of grease – sometimes it will earn you a bonus, but in any case, it’s polite and expected.
- Triple-check your items before leaving the house. Avoid a long walk back to the hotel – don’t forget your phone, wallet, ID badge and cash.
- You need to be 21 to gamble or drink alcohol. Consider that before scheduling a meeting in a casino or bar with someone underage.
Send us your input
As with all of our guides, we want this to be as helpful as possible for affiliate marketers attending Affiliate Summit West. If you have anything to add, please send us a message (we’re happy to link to you and share the credit)!
Meet Advidi in Vegas
The Advidi presence will be strong in the Silver City come January. Our Ad Max War Boys are suited up and ready to tackle the huge conference in style.
Meet the War Boys. Visit their Citadel during the meet market: Table B7. Make lasting deals that will bolster your profits and open doors to new opportunities.
If you plan on attending, book a meeting with them now - before it's too late!
Don't forget to stop by our table during the meet market on Sunday, 7 January:
More about us
Advidi is a Global affiliate network based in Amsterdam. We believe in putting people before profits, which means we value every relationship we have with affiliates and advertisers alike. Our primary verticals are Dating, iGaming, Health & Beauty and Mainstream, while our focus is on helping affiliates find exclusive offers, optimize campaigns and deliver the best possible traffic to our trusted advertisers.