I was reflecting on TravelCon recently, having secured my flights and hotels, and it opened up all sorts of ‘then and now’ thoughts. Reading how Noah picked Excalibur based on price made me chuckle, and perhaps share a few thoughts.
Back in the day…
When I first started going to Vegas I was a hustler. Not the Steve Mcqueen type, as my pool game sucked, but I would go to trade shows and walk the floor trying to gain a client. I’d get the cheapest ticket I could afford to get in the door, and walk from booth to booth trying to make a deal.. it made for long days, but if I could score just one deal from it, there would be a chance to make $20k, $50K, or even as much as $200K at some point down the line. Most of the time I was rejected though. My job, for those interested was a niche tech recruiter, I would work remotely, find a client from the Valley showing at Vegas, ask if they wanted to break into a new Asian market, and make it happen.
I used to pay my own way, flew in the cheapest coach seats, and stay in the shoddiest hotels… such as the Excalibur.
I did pretty well, but that is because in this type of deal the hotel didn’t really matter.. I could blag it. If there was ever a need to meet with a VP to have a deeper conversation I could easily pop over to the nearest swanky hotel and meet them there.
My current trip
As I return now, I’m hustling in different ways. I’m flying outbound in Virgin America First Class. This remains very exciting for me, because I remember one trip from back in the day where I flew Virgin in Coach and thought it was epic. And this time around I’m almost set on hotels… I have Saturday night booked at Encore (comped) and for Friday I have a reservation held at the Mandarin Oriental.
What are you trying to get from the conference?
Back in the day, it didn’t matter too much that my hotel sucked, or that it was obnoxiously hot outside, or that I had to schlepp to get back and forth.. all that mattered was price.. the same reason that I picked Excalibur. After a while of doing these things I started to realize that I needed a better location, a nicer room, etc.. but these were minor touches. The impact wasn’t huge because my ‘win’ from the conference almost always started and ended in that exhibition room.
But when I think about TravelCon… that’s a different story. And based on what I did back then (pick on price) and what I do now (enjoy life) I’d like to suggest people think about things differently….
It’s still sales
I’m an introvert. Hustling was hard for me. I’d often walk the conference floor for a few laps before getting up the courage to speak with someone. After all, I came from a company with no name, with the most absurd sales pitch, and nothing but a glimmer of hope.
TravelCon is the same. Everybody says it… but nobody acts like they know what it means.. It’s all about the socializing.
Events like this are about your potential to close a new client. The new client here is a player in the game. You don’t attend conferences like this to learn much in the room itself (the opposite of my tech days) but in the room afterwards. It’s all about creating situations where you are well placed.
Example: let’s pretend you really want to get to know me.. you find that I’m arriving on Friday and maybe staying at the Mandarin. You also know that I like to drink good Cabernet in Vegas. Would you be better staying at the Excalibur and arriving in the night because that flight was cheaper? Or would you be better arriving in the morning and staying at my hotel… tweeting to me “hey I’ve got a bottle of Cakebread going in the lobby”.
Now – I’m not saying you should stalk me.. but this is thinking about the success from an event in a totally different way. I meet people came to our Saverocity DOs, and the first TravelCon and didn’t have a fantastic time. One guy was so miserable I spent a good 30 mins giving him 1 on 1 time to help improve his experience. But the reality is.. if you book a trip and focus on price of ‘getting it out of the way’ rather than ‘how can I make this epic?’ you’re never going to have an epic experience.
In the same vein, if everyone was staying at Excalibur, then I’d consider lowering my snobby standards to be there with them.
This is game changing
I can’t stress this enough. If you think in such a linear way, only about “getting sleep done” and not about crafting a winning environment.. you’re always only going to achieve your first goal, and you’re never going to hit something out of the park.. people attach themselves to people who are like minded, if you want into a new group, or to learn from someone in that group, you need to resonate with them.. if for example, you really want to hang out with Tahsir, create a situation where that is likely to happen. If he is staying at the Delano, and you booked the Monte Carlo, there is no natural opportunity for you to share a ride back to ‘your’ hotel together.
Take a read of this post by Neil Patel… incidentally, my first watch that was given to me was a Panerai, and it does open conversations.
Next time you read a report from someone of a conference that reads like “speakers were OK, blah blah…” they didn’t get it.. its not about attending a conference and being a sheep in a flock.