March 4, 2013

Vegas For Business

The Strip!

So, February was a whirlwind month. But March 1 sent me to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada! Vegas!!!

Course, I was only going to give a presentation, with my boss, to one of my clients on Google+. But still, Vegas! And since the company pays for a night in a hotel when traveling for business I got to stay.

Feelin' like a big shot.

It was the first time I was in a plane by myself, too. And not just my first time in the Las Vegas airport alone, but the first time in that airport ever. I ended up going to the wrong pick up area and was trying to explain to my boss, who was trying to pick me up in a rental car, where I was. When he finally did find me we had almost 2 hours before our presentation time and decided we should grab some lunch and settle in and maybe talk about the presentation. But then we thought it'd be better to go to the hotel where the conference was at and get our bearings before doing the lunch thing.

The conference was in The Orleans, a giant hotel that's nowhere near The Strip. It's on the other side of the 15 and looks like it's been there quite a while. To borrow the words of my boss the hotel "is bigger than North Park." We maneuvered the structure (which also has an arena) and found the site of the conference. At the check in area my boss mentioned we were speaking on Google+ and the lady knew exactly which room to send us to. And then she told us we had 15 minutes to go.

Wait... 15 minutes? We thought we had more than an hour to go.

Apparently there was some miscommunication about when we were going on because we'd arrived with exactly enough time to give our presentation. Since we'd planned on getting lunch first and it was clear we now did not have that opportunity, my boss asked if there was food we could have before we started. We were shown to a simple buffet style set up in a massive conference room that had probably two dozen booths set up with information and products to sell, and took about 12 minutes scarfing down lunch. Then we walked in to our conference room exactly on time (but with not enough time or privacy to change my shoes... I went up there in flip flops).

It turned out we had to give the presentation to two different groups: one at 2:30 and one at 3:30 (which probably contributed to the miscommunication). The first half of the presentation was given by my boss, which introduced the concept of Google+ for businesses to a crowded room of 50+ franchise owners. Then he introduced me and I gave my presentation - something I created especially for this group of business owners. There were lots of questions (most of them good ones), which I was glad for because it made me feel there was a lot of genuine interest that might linger until they all got home. My boss helped me with the questions I couldn't answer, which was helpful when the questions and conversation turned away from the points I was making, and a few people came up to us after for more in depth questions.

With just a few minutes of a break we dove in give the presentation again, though our crowd was far smaller the second time around (which was kind of nice). I had thought with fewer people there would be more time for questions, but like with the first group I felt like I talked too quickly and glossed over some very important parts just to try and finish each slide. But there were just as many questions, and again most of them were really good, so people were still paying attention. 

After we finished up my boss had to catch his flight back and he had just enough time to take me to my hotel first, saving me a cab ride. I was supposed to stay at The Orleans because of the conference discount my company would have gotten, but due to a fortunate error with the booking website I was given a room in The Westin, which was just a couple of blocks off The Strip. The hotel had a distinct older feel to it (perhaps because it smelled more like perfume and cologne than cigarettes, which I was grateful for), but it was beautifully decorated and the room was exactly what I was hoping for - clean look and feel, comfortable bed and sheets, and a few nice upgrades. 

I felt really lucky to be in such a fun city in exchange for just a few hours of work (not including actually developing the presentation...). The point of me going was twofold: to inspire my client to take a more active role in their social media and local search presence and to give me a taste of presenting before I have the opportunity to present to a much larger group of peers, which is something my company encourages within the industry. This presentation went well, so I imagine when the day comes to go to one of our industry conferences I'll know a little bit more of what to expect.

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