Future NAB Trip Recommendations

Posted By Heath Firestone on May 19, 2010 12:18 pm | Permalink
A guide for planning you next NAB trip. Hey guys,

Just got back from a four day NAB trip, and I thought I'd give you a quick rundown on my take, and a couple of pointers for those of you who haven't been to NAB, but plan on going next year.

This was my fourth NAB, and definitelly worth the trip. There's a lot of energy at the show, and lots of cool stuff coming on the horizon. You will find companies you would never have heard about before, and you get to talk one on one with the companies and find out answers to questions you can't find online. It's exciting, and exhausing. You also have to have some patience. A couple of booths I didn't get a chance to talk to who I wanted until my tenth visit to the booth, but your chances improve dramatically from 5PM-6PM, since people get tired and leave, and the show closes at 6PM. As far as how many days to plan, depends on how much you want to see. I usually go for two or three. This time I was in for all four. Thurday only runs unltil 2PM, so it's a short day. I do everything from Production through Post, and I really only hit the Central Hall and the South Lower Hall, so I never even saw the South Upper Hall or North Hall. Most people, however, will be happy with a couple of days, but I could have used five.

My suggestions on transportation accomodations:

Renting Cars: (rant)
First, I would have a tough time recommending renting a car unless absolutely necessary, while in Vegas, for the following reasons. I was renting a car because I planned on staying with a friend in Henderson, which is all the way across town, so I would need a car. Those plans fell through, so I ended up having to get a hotel room, so I got one near the Convention Center. I tried to cancel my reservation for the car since I had no need for one any more. Alamo said that if I rented directly through them, it would not have been a problem, but, since I ordered it through Hotwire, it was up to them. Hotwire told me all sales were final, and I was out of luck. So, then there is the misleading aspects of how much you will pay for a car. $22 a day, is what it says, but after taxes, and other fees, you're at $44 a day. My regular insurance covers the car, but not loss of use, which they can charge you if there is an accident, so the cheapest insurance that covers both is another $20/day. Basically I ended up spending $265 for a car I drove four times, for a total of less than 10 miles. For that price I could have paid for a nice hotel and transportation, and had money left over. I can safely say that I am unlikely to ever rent a car through Hotwire again, or while in Vegas unless I have a very good reason. Also, if you have a car, expect to pay $10 a day for parking. (end rant) As far as hotels go, check to see which ones have NAB specials. A lot of the hotels that aren't really close to the Convension Center have busses or shuttles to get you back and forth. Otherwise you have cabs and limo's. Expect to pay $10 for a cab, and $25 for a limo, so try to share with a couple of friends. The advantage, is that you won't have to pay $10 a day for parking, and if you decide to drink while at a party, you don't have to worry about driving. Several hotels are in walking distace, so those are always a great bet.

Be prepared to be sore from all of the walking at the Convention Center. It is huge, and you will walk back and fourth and through and around it many times in a day, and even if you're in good shape, you will likely have sore feet and legs. Not a whole lot you can do about it, but be aware, you will do a ton of walking.

On buying plane tickets: Buy your tickets about two weeks out. Too much before that, they tend to be higher, at at one week out they are definitelly higher. When I checked prices two weeks out, they were $120 for round trip from Denver to Las Vegas, at one week out they were $260.

On eating: Food is expensive at the show. I brought lots of power bars, which kept me going. You may still have to stop for a bite, but I found the power bars to be a good thing to have for those times when I didn't feel like paying $5.50 for a greasy, unappetizing piece of pizza.

On gambling: Personally, I'd avoid it. For me, NAB is a business trip. Casino's are designed to draw you in, disorient your time perception, and get you to spend all of your time and money there. There's enough noise and excitement at NAB, that, by the end of the day, I'm a bit on sensory overload, so the last thing I want, is to be surrounded by thousands of bright flashing lights, and all of the noises from the machines. I'd rather go to a couple of Parties like the Adobe Release Party, or a Beta dinner, (or the Red party) or something where I can connect with people who I interact with all the time, and can finally put a face to their name.

I have seen guys go to the show, and get the Vegas experience, where they went one day to the show, then went to a night club, got smashed, had call girls try to pick them up, blown all of their money gambling, and then in their drunken state, fallen on stairs, and twisted their ankle, so they were out for the rest of the show. Personally, I think that's a waste.

Mostly, just go and enjoy the show. You will learn a ton, and get to see the products in action. There are constant demos, and you should be able to get an exhibits only pass for free. It doesn't have to be an expensive trip. If you share a room, and taxi with a couple of friends, and plan your trip, you can do the trip even on a tight budget. Hope this helps and makes your next trip to NAB an enjoyable one that won't break your bank.