The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Summit West 2019 – Las Vegas
This January, the best of the best in affiliate marketing will ONCE AGAIN take over the Entertainment Capital of the World…
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).
For this 2019 edition, we’ve received outstanding contributions from four #ASW19 speakers:
- Adam Riemer explains how he avoids the “information firehose” out there, focusing on high-quality insights and effective discussions to make smarter decisions in his marketing.
- Tal Itzhak Ron talks about a major issue many affiliates are facing: compliance. (There’s some reassurance, but only if you act in time…)
- Matt White reveals the thinking behind his “Stop Selling, Start Helping” mentality - plus how you can avoid being “that guy” in your sales and marketing messaging.
- Mary Ann Bautista highlights the two biggest reasons her direct marketing agency has thrived for more than 20 years.
In addition, you’ll find a ton of interesting (and mostly useful) tips on how to enjoy Vegas to the fullest:
- Delicious restaurant suggestions (some healthy, some decidedly not)
- Next-level hangover cures
- The best places to get married (hey, why not?)
- Where to dogfight in jet fighters and shoot guns
- How to drink for FREE (while also getting entertained)
- An interactive map with all the suggestions conveniently listed
When it comes to ASW, the old saying just doesn't apply. What happens in Vegas this January will ripple throughout the affiliate marketing world and set the tone for 2019. If you'll be there, this guide is a must-read resource for ensuring long-lasting effects from ASW.
Special thanks to Adam Riemer, Mary Ann Bautista, Tal Itzhak Ron, Matt White, Zac Johnson, Michael Benedek, Bill Rothbard, Pat Asbra, Mariam Barnes, Mr. Romance and Scotty Kaz for their contributions so far!
Do your research
Getting around/budgeting time
Map of Las Vegas
Avoiding jet lag and show-stopping hangovers
1. THE CONFERENCE: AFFILIATE SUMMIT WEST 2019When 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, they launched two additional official editions: Affiliate Summit Europe in London and Affiliate Summit Asia in Singapore. Important details: What: Affiliate Summit West 2019 (#ASW19) When: 6-8 January 2019 Where: Paris Las Vegas Hotel Who: Affiliate Summit events draw a varied background of attendees from all across the industry. The conference is large, meaning 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 organizersWhen 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 - although the focus is on the ASE edition, it can nonetheless 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
SpeakersThe 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.
Tal Itzhak Ron
Advocate, Certified Computer Scientist and Notary Tal Itzhak Ron (LLB, B.SC., M.Sc.) is a General Member of International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) practicing i-Gaming and Financial Entertainment.Tal graduated from Haifa University School of Law (LL.B.) and Faculty of Computer Science (B.Sc.), and while working as a software developer at a publicly-traded software company, Ness Technologies, has further obtained a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from Bar Ilan University. Tal established Tal Ron, Drihem & Co., Law Firm back in 2003, focusing from the start on Hi Tech, Ad Tech, M&A, Financial Entertainment and iGaming industries, quickly becoming one of the first international firms practicing solely on these areas. The firm today advises the world leading operators, platforms and governing bodies and is considered the first point of contact for entrepreneurs setting up businesses in the Crypto, iGaming, Ad Tech and Mobile App industries. We asked him about compliance issues, particularly as they relate to payment processing and storing consumer data:
1. Your law firm, Tal Ron, Drihem & Co., has focused on iGaming, FinTech, Hi Tech, and Ad Tech since its foundation 15 years ago. How have you seen the role of compliance and regulation in affiliate marketing change in that time?Over the past few years, compliance and regulation have evolved to adapt with new technological advances. A number of regulatory issues have been affecting the Digital Marketing World lately, mainly: the effect of data protection laws on the digital marketer's business strategy, and the new compliance requirements recently introduced by MasterCard.
2. What major data protection issues do you expect affiliates to encounter (or continue to face) in 2019?With opt-in becoming a mandatory requirement, marketers must, amongst other things, establish whether or not the current level of opt-in permission they use meets GDPR requirements. Most of the discussion relating to the effect of data protection laws on digital marketers focuses on consent, email marketing, and other relevant channels such as social media. GDPR specifically requires an explicit consent. Under GDPR, "implied consent" or "soft opt-in" methods will no longer be an option to gather B2C personal data. To this extent, companies must be able to provide signed proof that each data subject actually elected to opt-in and wasn't added to the company's list by default or automation. It is also to be noted that according to the GDPR's "right to be forgotten", each data subject should also be informed about the right to opt-out at any time. In order to fulfill this right, affiliates should check their Company's technical integrations and ensure that personal data can be removed immediately from all relevant databases pursuant to the data subject's request. Tip: digital marketers cannot afford to ignore GDPR, especially with fines of up to €20 million, or 4% of the company's total worldwide annual turnover, whichever is higher. Our advice is that affiliates should always be as transparent as possible with consumer data in order to build relevant, valued relationships with their customers. Marketing should not be aggressive or mysterious. If a user understands why they’re opting into services and perceives the value they’ll gain, companies will have a trustful relationship, a better audience and higher conversion rates.
3. Many affiliates are building brands and/or working closer with networks and advertisers, resulting in greater emphasis on Brand Safety. From a legal perspective, is there anything these entities are overlooking that deserves more attention right now?The main issue relates to payment methods. Once affiliates have built a brand, how do such entities deal with payment requirements? If they wish to use MasterCard, they should beware of new compliance requirements which came into place on April 12th, and enforced by the end of 2018. According to MasterCard, all merchants involved in: Contracts for Difference (CFD), Foreign exchange (Forex) currency options trading, Cryptocurrency options trading, and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) can no longer submit transactions via the MasterCard network without being legally authorised to do so in the jurisdictions where the cardholders resides. Complying with MasterCard requires each Merchant to provide: "(a) Evidence that you are legally authorised to perform the above listed activities, including a copy of the Merchant's licence (b) a reasoned legal opinion, and (c) a certification of effective controls". In order to continue transacting with MasterCard smoothly and adhere to all of their new requirements, entities are highly encouraged to obtain legal advice as quickly as possible to adopt the required compliance procedures. At Tal Ron Drihem & Co., due to our international presence and along with our worldwide partners, we provide the appropriate services to help you comply with MasterCard requirements, and offer a variety of legal solutions which will regulate your business pursuant to your specific needs.
4. Who is the ideal audience member for your session at ASW?E-merchants, financial and gaming operators, advertising networks, advertisers and publishers.
5. What are you most excited to see or do in Las Vegas?Looking forward to enjoying a great time in one of my favourite cities on the west coast. I plan to attend musical acts, enjoy time in the Encore, XS and Hakkasan clubs with new and old clients around the clock.
- Don’t miss Tal Itzhak’s session at ASW: Key Compliance Issues Digital Marketers To Watch For In 2019. The session takes place on 8 January at 2:45 PM.
- Learn more about Tal Itzhak’s work at rd-law.co.il
Matt WhiteMatt White is a Speaker, Entrepreneur and Author of the acclaimed book “Stop Selling, Start Helping”. Matt is known for his engaging corporate speeches, which often involve audience participation and storytelling to inspire a new perspective on a timeless practice. He brings a fresh approach to classic sales methodology, suggesting that making yourself useful to your audience is far more valuable than attacking them with outdated sales messages. In the interview below, he expands on his perspective - plus helps us avoid being “that guy” in our endless pursuit of sales:
1. Your book, “Stop Selling, Start Helping”, claims that the traditional sales model no longer works - you advocate for a value-oriented sales mentality instead. Why do you think this approach is working so well these days? (And why was it overlooked in the past?)It works because so few people are doing it, so you stand out from the crowd. The world of sales and marketing still revolves around the "selling of stuff" and because most people don't know any better - both consumers as well as marketers, business people, sales people - we stick to what we know. But, as a consumer, you know you get frustrated when someone is trying to "sell" you - whether it's a used car or an affiliate program or product. We avoid "that guy" who's ALWAYS selling because it's annoying. On the other hand, when we do what we do because we genuinely want to help improve the lives of those we serve and our actions show that, this version of "selling" looks very different. I recently read Seth Godin's new book, This Is Marketing (fantastic book! I highly recommend it!) - he has a wonderful quote in there: "Marketing is the generous act of helping others become who they seek to become." The same concept should apply in sales - when we are focused on "helping others become who they seek to become" instead of aiming for the sale, closing the deal, or increasing our own bottom line, we are actually more likely to achieve those things. It's definitely not an overnight expectation to see results, but when we educate, when we inform, when we entertain our prospects and hold their hand throughout the buying process, they are much more likely to buy from us when they are ready to make that decision.
2. You’ve been active in the advertising industry for over 30 years, filling many various roles. What’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone who is just entering the industry today?Be useful. It seems like a very simple statement, but if you literally focus all your efforts on truly being useful to your audience, you will win.
3. Who is the ideal audience member for your session at ASW?My session will best serve those who are frustrated because what may have worked in the past isn't working any more. The tactics, the platforms, the messaging that helped someone build a strong business are no longer generating the results they would like to see. I'd say it's equally valuable to those who are new and haven't been tainted by the "traditional" sales mentality yet; this session will help them start off with a strong foundation, rather than having to learn the hard way first.
4. What are you most excited to see or do in Las Vegas?I've spoken across the country, but surprisingly never in Vegas. I am very much looking forward to experiencing first-hand all that I've been told about the city.
- Don’t miss Matt’s session at ASW: Stand Out: 6 Steps To Rise Above The Noise. The session takes place on 7 January at 2:45 PM.
- Learn more about Matt White’s work at mattwhitespeaks.com and check out his book at stopsellingstarthelping.com
Adam RiemerAdam is a true marketing polyglot - his blog covers a dazzling array of topics, from analyzing the latest SEO news and calculating competitors’ AOV to writing great copy, affiliate management and more. Perhaps most impressive is the depth to which he covers these topics; his posts clearly reflect his 10+ years of experience as a curious, driven marketer. Adam has written articles for the likes of FeedFront and SearchEngineJournal, spoken at shows like Affiliate Summit, Pubcon, State of Search and Think Tank, and has been mentioned or referenced in publications like Forbes.com, NY Times, MarketingLand.com and more. We asked him about how he stays up to date in the chaotic, fast-paced industry that is online marketing:
1. You’ve been active in the affiliate space for more than a decade, with numerous appearances at Affiliate Summit, Pubcon, State of Search and more. What is the biggest change you’ve noticed (or enacted yourself) in this time?The biggest change I’ve noticed is that after I learned to listen to others, I discovered new business models and strategies. Certain things that seemed scary (i.e. code) were terrifying to me, but by not tuning others out and paying attention I was able to learn these things and that is what helped me grow and is continuing to do to so.
2. Your blog covers a massive range of marketing topics, from SEO and digital marketing to affiliate management, media buying and more. With so much marketing information out there, how do you qualify your sources and keep your knowledge up to date?Marketing is my hobby so while others are out playing sports and watching tv, I’m building sites and testing channels so that I can become my own resource. I also have groups of people I trust and where we privately share information to help each of us find solutions and grow. The groups (for the most part) are all fact based and incredibly small which is why people feel comfortable sharing. We do all get permission from our clients and companies first of course.
3. Are there any emerging platforms, technologies or recent developments you’re particularly excited about right now?Nothing in particular that is incredibly cool or new. There’s a ton of things that have existed for years (since I started in the digital space) that are getting new buzz words like “content marketing” and “influencer marketing” but the reality is they’re just new names on the same things. There are a ton of cool new tools and one off programs like FeaturedSnippetTool.com by the Internet Marketing Ninjas. People approach me each week because of my blog saying they have an incredibly new platform or technology, etc… it is very rare they do at this point. There could be a new feature or something a bit more advanced, but I’m still on the lookout for something that doesn’t exist yet.
4. Who is the ideal audience member for your session at ASW?We design our session so it is all inclusive. It could be a blogger looking for ways to make money or drive more organic traffic or a large brand that got penalized or has flat lined. It’s a completely audience driven review session about SEO and monetization. The panel is made up of tech and content SEOs so there is unlikely a question we can’t handle. In NYC two of the sites didn’t have any focus on English and was an international SEO.
5. What are you most excited to see or do in Las Vegas?Ha…if the new Britney Spears show is live, I’m totally going.
- Don’t miss Adam’s session at ASW: Live SEO & Monetization Site Reviews. The session takes place on 6 January at 1:00 PM.
- Adam maintains a blog packed with in-depth breakdowns of the latest marketing news - check it out at https://www.adamriemer.me/
Mary Ann BautistaMary Ann is a 25+ year veteran of the direct response marketing world, having launched her full-service media buying agency more than two decades ago. She focuses on a variety of platforms, including a few channels you may not have considered for direct response - namely TV, Radio and Podcasting. Her session at ASW focuses on influencer marketing, a hot topic that has shown immense promise in recent years. We checked in with her to get an expert opinion on how direct marketing has changed and what it means to serve your clients effectively:
1. You’ve just celebrated the 20th anniversary of Bautista Direct Marketing. How have your methods and techniques changed in that time? (And has anything remained unchanged?)Yes, everything has changed! With the advent of digital, the #1 thing that has changed is that we now have digital “reporting” tools that never existed before. It makes analysis so much more complex! But we love the detail. In the “old days” all we had was phone call data and mailed responses. The world has changed! When was the last time you ordered something by mailing a reply through snail mail???? The one thing that has not changed is our 100% focus on client goals and outcomes.
2. At Bautista Direct Marketing, you’ve managed direct marketing campaigns for major national brands. What’s your secret to winning (and keeping) their business?The secret to winning and keeping that business is really two fold. First is consistently hitting their KPIs with our various Direct Marketing programs. And the second is our customer service. We have a fabulous relationship because we respond very quickly to their questions and we deliver programs on time and on budget. They know that their interests and goals are our primary focus… and that has allowed us to win and keep one specific client for over 12 years now!
3. What’s your current favorite channel or platform for direct response?Love Instagram and HULU and we really like Pandora!
4. Who is the ideal audience member for your session at ASW?Folks who are curious about how to make social media influencer programs work for their businesses or their clients businesses from a DR perspective.
5. What are you most excited to see or do in Las Vegas?Go to the conference! We’ve all been to Vegas many, many times. The #1 reason we go is to meet with clients and vendors and develop new relationships! And a good crepe at the Paris sweetens the deal!
- Don’t miss Mary Ann’s session at ASW: Profitable Influencer Marketing 101. The session takes place on 6 January at 1:00 PM.
- Learn more about Mary Ann’s work at bautistadm.com
2. PREPARING FOR SIN CITYIf 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 a weak start by knocking out these essential tasks before you take off:
Booking a flightSuggestions 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; 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 LAS, LAX or SLC.
Booking a hotelThere 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 ASW19 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’s made quite the entrance. Right next door to the Paris 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.
Getting a visaThis 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.
Travel checklistAlong 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
The weatherAverage 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 airportShortly 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 arguably better)
3. MAXIMIZE YOUR EXPERIENCEIt 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 researchBefore 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.
Networking toolsAs usual, the folks at ASW have gone the extra mile to help you organize your networking activities. The ASW19 Networking Tools were created specifically to help you connect with like-minded attendees.
Getting around/budgeting timeThis might be the most useful tip you get from this guide, especially if you’ve never been to Vegas: Las Vegas is a-mazing. 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 - luxury can be had for as low as $30/hour!
Map of Las VegasTo 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
Scheduling meetingsWhen 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
3 Steps to avoiding jet lag and show-stopping hangoversWhile 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 on the first night. Fun for one night... 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)
4. GETTING LOST IN VEGASVegas, baby. It's the best place to get lost (as long as you've got a plan to be found again). Here are some of the most unique and luxurious ways to enjoy the City of Lights:
8 tips on gamblingIf 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 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.
- 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. 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!
- Bruxie: It’s all about waffles… chicken, fruit, round, square. You name it, Bruxie serves it. Nice spot for breakfast and lunch.
- 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!
- Shake Shack: The infamous burger chain. Low budget, good for a quick snack.
- Beerhaus: Comfort food with a European-American vibe. Nice selection of local beers from Vegas on the menu.
- 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!
- 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.
- Le Thai: Popular Thai spot in the Fremont area.
- Le Pho: Modern Vietnamese kitchen.
- 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?
- La Comida: Great bar for cocktails and tacos - a winning combo.
- Bouchon: One of the best French restaurants in Vegas. Great for fine-dining meetings.
- 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.
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.
ClubbingWhen 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.
RomanceYou’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.
Beyond the stripOutside 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: Racing 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.
Further readingWe’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 tipsIn 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 drink alcohol or gamble. Consider that before scheduling a meeting in a casino or bar with someone underage.