Hey Everyone, I wanted to share some tips about attending BlogWorld 2010. Early bird registration rates end this
Thurs July 15(corrected). On top of benefiting from the early bird rates, you can also get 20% off if you
register for BlogWorld 2010 here with the code "EBIRD". (*Disclaimer - BlogWorld is a sponsor for our group.) I've attended, exhibited, or spoke at every Blogworld conference since it started and the New Media Expo each year before that. To keep your registration costs low there are a few different strategies. 1. Just register for an Expo only pass. You can learn a great deal from the people that exhibit at BlogWorld. After all these are the folks that are putting their money where their mouth is to show you what they have to offer. I found both WindowsLiveWriter, SnagIt, Camtasia, Artisteer and a lot more directly on the Expo floor. (met one of the founders of Meetup.com in the hallway) 2. Upgrade later if you need to learn more. Access to speaker sessions can parties passes can add another $300 + dollars, but can be worth it
if you plan well. This is going to be one of the best BlogWorld expos in years. The conference has finally come to their senses and moved out of the massive Las Vegas Convention Center and moved into a single hotel conference area at Mandalay Bay. For us old timers, that's something we have been requesting every year since the conference moved out of Los Angeles(Ontario in West LA specifically). The original shows were very close knit events with all attendees staying at the same 1 or 2 hotels. Going to the show, you could learn as much from the people that attended as you could from the educational tracks or from the experts on the expo floor.
You simply had to be there to benefit. :) The economy has been down for a couple years and now more than ever people need to consider budgets, so I'm sharing a few tips on how to do a Vegas BlogWorld on the cheap. :)
How to Get to BlogWorld on the Cheap We're in Charlotte and Las Vegas is pretty far away. Generally, speaking the best price you will get on a round trip ticket is going to run between $225 - $300 after tax. If you pay much more than that, you are paying too much and probably buying at the wrong time. I highly recommend you use Bing Travel to size up when the best time to book is. Also, plan on adding at least one day after the conference is over to travel back. You'll likely either get a Sunday red eye flight or a Monday morning flight back. That's just the way it is for west coast to east coast flights in the current economy. Be ready to spend the time so that you can save some money.
The Road Trip Consideration as opposed to Flying If you are a blogger/video blogger/ podcaster, you might consider a road trip. Its a long drive, but if that's your profession making an event out of going can help you pay your way. All the mileage can be written off for tax purposes. Drive with a friend or two or three and you can cut down on the gas costs and driving time. You can even pick up some sponsors to cover part of your expenses as you put on a road show. This isn't for everyone, but a half dozen people tend to do this every year driving to Vegas, sometimes in their car, renting a car, I've even seen some buy a new car and get it wrapped for the trip. Its about a 4,400 mile round trip and if you take turns driving you can be there in about 2 days, driving hard, 3 days if you stop and blog a lot. But that 4,400 miles packs a $2,420 tax write off if its your car. The gas at $3 per gallon on average would be $440 for a car that gets 30 miles to the gallon. Split that gas 4 ways and its $110 per person in gas + 3 days worth of meals travel out and 3 days worth of meals travel back (3*2*$6=$36). That's about $150 to get out there. Add in a hotel room or two at places on the interstate and your per person expense might go up another $50 (ergo $200 total, which is comparable to the cheapest flight prices you might find sans the experience).
The tax write off only makes sense if you have the tax income to deduct this from so if your revenue is a little on the low side, you might look at having someone else drive otherwise the tax write off might not boost your refund as much as you would like. I've always flown myself, but each year I heavily consider the road trip option just to have done it.
Where to Stay to Keep things Cheap If you go to BlogWorld on the cheap, I highly recommend staying with a room mate at a hotel. You can definitely try and surf a couch or two for free, but you will benefit much more from being at the right place at the right time. So DO AIM for Mandalay Bay. Their rates aren't super cheap (about $159/night
$109/night w BWE discount! and you can figure on staying anywhere from 2-4 nights.) But this will put you in the best spot to maximize your experience, because this is where the majority of people WILL be for Blogworld both during, around and after the show hours. There will be parties all over Vegas, but everyone will be going and coming from this location mostly, so do plan on being here a lot. If you share a room with some one else splitting two double beds, that halves your nightly hotel expense. It can be possible to get a third person, sometimes a fourth in a room if there is a roll away bed (request it and sometimes you can get one of these for $10 - $30 per night). Or if you road tripped it in, pack a couple sleeping bags and pillows.
Alternate Hotels The Luxor, Tropicana and Excalibur hotels are all very close (less than a quarter mile and DEFINITELY WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE). The luxor is about $30 per night cheaper than Mandalay Bay, Excalibur offers decent rates in the $70 - $90 per night range and the Tropicana can get you in for less than that. If you want super cheap rates, you will need to stay further away. Hooters hotel is right next to the airport and typically very cheap. There are others that are cheaper, but consider these really cheap hotels will be further away and you will either need to walk more (a mile or two) or cab it. I've personally stayed at some of the best hotels in Vegas and some of the cheapest and lots in between. My priorities are access(location), safety, comfort, swankiness. If you want a reality check on a cheap hotel offline, let me know by email.
Cabs / Trams & Trains & airport shuttles Everytime you ride in a cab going anywhere in Vegas it is going to cost you between $15 - $25. $15 is probably closer to the mean. Since the show is in Mandalay Bay, this should be a show where cabs are not needed as much. There are often shuttles, busses and more to the various parties, but some you will want to take a cab to. Its just easier going to a very upscale night club party if you didn't hike 2 miles through the desert. :) Coming home in the middle of the night on foot after lots of free cocktails isn't the wisest thing either. Fortunately, with the show in a hotel this year, this should be a year when lots of trips out of the hotel aren't as necessary. There are trains/trams up and down the strip which typically cost about $5 round trip, or you can get a day or week pass. Probably won't be necessary to get a week pass unless you find a great rate on a hotel room away from Mandalay Bay. If you drive out with a group, make sure you have a designated driver. There are also many locals and West Coast folks driving in, so you might be able to catch a ride. This is a GREAT way to network on both sides. If you catch a ride with someone, you can have a great conversation. If you take a vehicle out, its a great way to get some one on one time with some A list folks that might need a ride to the next party or event. Just don't get drunk if you are driving Scoble back from a party.
Don't be that blogger! ;) Some but not all hotels have hotel shuttles. The ones that do have shuttles tend to be the cheapest hotels and this is a perk or draw to get people to stay at an off strip location. Some of the hotels like Terribles (very cheap) or the Rio (location of Affiliate Summit) have shuttles either to the airport or to the strip. DO check and see if the hotel you are considering has a shuttle and factor this into your trip price planning.
Parties/Food/Drinks BlogWorld has more and more parties every year. This is a very social group of people with a lot of sponsors that pay very big bucks to wine and dine the movers and shakers in social media. You probably won't see too many free breakfasts or lunches, but more often than not if you really want to be cheap you can eat and drink for free most of the night. But watch out for the closing of all those open bars. When they close the bar and switch it back over to the register those drinks are going to cost about $9 each for basic stuff and go up from there. If you go with a group of people designate the most outgoing person to pay attention to where and when the parties are and RSVP in advance. Some events will be last minute affairs, but since most of these parties are sponsored, the sponsors like to be able to headcount their ROI. ;) Food in the hotels, is typically going to be expensive even at food courts. If you want to eat cheap, hit a grocery store, walgreens or gas station up for fresh fruit, drinks to put on ice or in a hotel refrigerator (if not part of room can often be wheeled in for $10 per night). I usually don't eat a big breakfast, but do eat lots of bananas. If you are an early bird or runner, go walk or run a mile or two in the morning and scope out what is close. An adventuresome spirit can help you find some real bargains and give you something to blog about.
to be continued in the comments :)