Michele’s NAB Survival Guide #NABShow
Why a NAB Survival Guide? For those of you who will be first timers to NAB, this is the insider’s guide from someone who has been to at least 15 NAB Shows in a row. I have lost track. Trust me, I’m a Pluginologist.
The long-awaited Toolfarm NAB Survival Guide Video is here.
I think this might be my twelfth NAB in a row! I’ve learned a bit over the years and have great tips from others to share with you.
Plan and Prioritize
See NAB 2018: The Official Toolfarm Guide with booth info, event info and more. (The NAB 2019 Guide is in the process of being updated so we’ll update the link soon.)
Get your event RSVPs in early and your schedule set before you go. There’s nothing worse than not being able to get into an event because you didn’t RSVP. Even if you are not sure if you can make it, it doesn’t hurt to RSVP on the off chance that you do. Even with 4 events in one night, you’d be surprised how many you’ll be able to get to. Many will sell out.
Download the NAB app for your smartphone.
Make a list of must-see booths and prioritize. Plot it all out on the map. There is so much on the show floor it’s easy to miss something. You won’t get to see everything. It’s so big!!
Register for events as soon as you find out about them. One not to miss is The IMUG Media Motion Ball.
Make your dinner reservations early. Check Yelp or other restaurant related sites for recommendations.
You have a few options.
The Las Vegas Monorail travels down one side of the strip. You can get a discount multi-day pass online if you order early. Last year I had a multi-day pass and I only ended up using it 2 or 3 times. In this case, the multi-day pass was not worth it. If you’re alone, the monorail may be a better option than a cab. Just watch out for hitchhiking Ferengis (those of you who have been there in the past probably know what I’m talking about!) The monorail can be VERY packed at the days end. If you can sneak out of the show an hour early, or show up an hour after the show starts, you’ll have fewer crowds. The monorail doesn’t go to the airport.
Cabs. If you’re with a group, it’s almost always cheaper to take a cab than it is to take the monorail. Cabs are everywhere but somehow, they are not fast. The traffic on the strip is atrocious. The cab queue at the airport is also super long. Just a warning.
Über and Lyft – as of NAB 2016, Über and Lyft are now an option in Las Vegas!
Limo. At NAB 2013 there was a cab driver strike. Most cabs were not running. Funny story, but one morning at NAB 2013 I was waiting for a cab in a taxi line in front of a hotel. There were about ten people in front of me and I had to be at the Boris Booth giving a presentation in 30 minutes. A limo driver came up to us and asked if we’d all chip in $10 and he’d bring us to the Convention Center. He crammed twelve of us into that SUV limo for the ten-minute ride and he made $120 or more, and I had a story about riding to the Convention Center in a limo.
The same thing actually happened in 2015 with a ride to the airport. We took a regular limo, as opposed to an SUV limo, but it’s a comfy way to get to the airport and meet a few other NAB Show attendees at the same time.!
Free Shuttles. NAB has free shuttles during the day that pick up at several hotels. Find out beforehand what time and where the pick up is. Sometimes pickup is in an odd place at the back of a hotel’s parking ramp. Sometimes the shuttles can be very slow. They always seem to have my drop off last on the agenda.
Parking. If you’re driving and need to park near the convention center, Adam Bedford’s NAB Survival Guide gives some advice about parking and many other things I have mentioned. He has a top secret place he parks and tips on how to fool security for cheap parking. Go, Adam!
DO bring the following to the show floor:
A backpack (recommended for both men and women instead of a purse) because you will collect lots of papers, t-shirts, and other swag at the show. Magazines are heavy. Be careful with what you take! And don’t bring a wimpy bag that can’t handle the stress or that hurts your shoulders or back.
A lightweight jacket. That air conditioning can be freezing, especially if it’s hot outside. The desert can get very chilly at night too.
Phone charger cable and a portable source of extra charge. I’m always in need of juice!
Sunglasses. The sun in Las Vegas is blinding and so are the lights at The Flamingo.
Business cards. You’ll get a ton. I think I’ll take photos of people holding their cards so I can put a name to a face after the show. That’s always the toughest part. I’ll usually walk away from NAB with 250 business cards of people I have just met.
Your badge! They will not let you in without it. They do check. One year, mine didn’t arrive and I had to go through a really lengthy ordeal to get a new one. They say that they’ll charge $150 for a lost badge. You could always register for 2, just to be safe. People really do that!
Bring 2 pair of comfortable shoes. If you’re on the Expo floor all day and at events, all evening, switching shoes midway through the day helps immensely!
Hand sanitizer. Germs! You’ll be meeting a lot of people and shaking hands and touching cameras that have been touched by thousands of people.
Cash. The ATM charges are a bit high for my comfort.
Stay hydrated. Bring along a Brita bottle with a filter, or something similar. Sure, you can buy bottled water on the show floor or on The Strip if you want to spend $4 on a 12 oz bottle. A Bud Lights will cost less than a bottle of Dasani. The tap water in Las Vegas, in my opinion, tastes like jet-fuel and chocolate. It’s disgusting. Do yourself a favor and bring a filter bottle. You’re welcome.
Amber Osborne (@MissDestructo on Twitter) has a great tip: “@toolfarm Vegas tip for staying hydrated. Go to the Fashion Show Mall. You can get liters of water there in the mini-mart for one dollar. \m/” We will be checking that one out!
Pack some snacks! If your schedule is as jam-packed as mine tends to get, there sometimes isn’t time to grab a quick bite to eat, or nothing but a bag of Spicy Cheetos, which it may be better to just eat nothing than Spicy Cheetos. Cafeteria lines are long at lunchtime. It’s overpriced too, underwhelming or could even be sold out by the time you get to the front of the line. I’ve been there. I speak the truth.
In the evening, throw a snack or two in your bag. Parties may have no munchies. I’ve been to some events where they put the food out and it’s gone in literally 20 minutes. Restaurants can have very long waits if you don’t have reservations and you may not have time to eat. Maybe you’re by yourself and don’t want to eat alone. Alcohol is abundant at most evening events in Las Vegas, too.
Do yourself a favor and pack some Clif Bars, trail mix, granola, jerky, fresh fruit, or something nutritionally dense and easy to carry. Throw a couple of snacks in your bag when you go to the show and when you’re walking around at night. This could save you from running out of energy during the day or being forced to eat gross convention center food or other things not on your diet (fries, burgers, etc.). It could also save you from drinking on an empty stomach in the evening.
Bring them with you from home There are no grocery stores that I know of that are convenient from The Strip. Maybe a Walgreens, but no real grocery stores. If you do find a grocery store, it will have a few slot machines in it. Las Vegas is such a weird place. There is a little grocery store behind the Flamingo. You get snacks there. They also have a slot machine. Shocking.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive meal, there are still cheap buffets in old Las Vegas on Freemont Street. It has also been recommended to try the Cuban and Dominican places across from where the Sahara used to be, which is cheap and tasty.
Laptops are heavy and there is no free WiFi. Save your back and the risk of it being stolen and leave it at the hotel.
Video cameras. Technically you are not allowed to film anything on the expo floor… but you always have your iPhone…
Your spouse or significant other. Yes, you may think of Las Vegas as a place to spend time with your squeeze, however, if they are not in the industry, they will be bored out of their mind and they will not be happy. Because of this, you will not be able to see everything that you want to see. Been there, done that. Leave them to explore The Strip or leave them at home entirely! Of course, I’m bringing my spouse this year, but he gets it.
As I mentioned, don’t expect free or reliable WIFI on the show floor or anywhere around Las Vegas for that matter. There is some in the Cyber Cafe in the South Hall but I’ve never been able to use it. Hotels usually charge a ton for the internet. Hey, they want you to be gambling and drinking, not looking at the greatest new products and sales at Toolfarm.com. I don’t get it either… Even hotels with free WIFI will not likely have a dependable signal. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed anywhere in Las Vegas with a solid internet connection. If you need to be online, a wireless card may be just the ticket. It will be cheaper and more reliable. I don’t know how it couldn’t be. This is Adam Bedford’s tip, actually. I can’t take credit for this one!
If you can turn off data, GPS, and WIFI on your phone while on the show floor, you can save some life of your battery. You probably won’t get a signal anyway. The walls are thick and there are a lot of people fighting over the same signal. Bring your charging cable and throw it in your backpack. If you see an empty outlet and you have 30% battery and 15 minutes to kill, I highly advise you to pop a squat, rest your feet and charge your phone.
I also recommend bringing a portable charging device. This one, which I haven’t used, is getting very good ratings at Amazon.com.
- How to Survive the NAB Show in 2 Easy Lessons – Lesson # 1
- How to Survive the NAB Show in 2 Easy Lessons – Lesson # 2
- The NAB Survival Guide: Trade Show Cliff notes by Dan Warvi
- Kylee Wall’s NAB Show Guide to Thriving (instead of just surviving)
- Walter Biscardi’s NAB Guide Annual Tips from a Convention Veteran
- An Introvert’s Guide To NAB by Chris Potter
- NewBlueFX Survival Guide
Posted by Michele Yamazaki