At CES 2016 in Las Vegas, innovation is everything. Smart watches that clip your nose hairs, even smarter fridges that slap your hand away from the pudding packs, automated cars that allow you to stalk old high school friends on Facebook on the way to work without a worry and dozens of other glimpses into the not-so-distant future.
But what happens when the conference shuts down for the day and the world’s leaders in tech are left to their own devices on the streets of Sin City? We asked Bill Kennedy of Vegas’ infamous Gold Spike & the Downtown Project to guide you through five fool-proof tips for when you’re ready to swap out the glow of your laptop for glow sticks and hit the strip running — nerd or not.
1. STAND OUT
Even the most hardened veteran Vegas club promoter can’t help but enjoy seeing people lose themselves in the neon-soaked madness. “From the strip to downtown, longtime locals do not need to look up what convention is in town,” said Kennedy, who boasts nine years on the Vegas nightlife scene. “I still enjoy seeing the reactions on a first-time visitor’s face. Even better when they catch that Vegas vibe and unleash. That’s when it becomes a legendary night.”
2. BUT DON’T BE SUPER OBVIOUS ABOUT IT
Take those damn wristbands, lanyards and badges off when you leave the convention center. We get it: Your company is pioneering a new way for us to notice you — but now is the time to be free, let loose and embarrass yourself to the point where you have to take a few days off from work until things blow over with the girls in accounting. “You look like a fool when you walk around with several lanyards and ID badges dangling from your neck,” Kennedy said. We’re not impressed. Not impressed at all.”
3. WATCH OUT FOR THE QUIET ONES
Use the buddy system to your advantage. Office crush not panning out? Half your work associates forgetting your name? Don’t underestimate the quiet dude from a few cubicles over. According to Kennedy, those are the ones who always end up having the most fun. “They start the night all professional — shirt tucked in, neatly groomed and looking sharp for the boss,” Kennedy said. “Next thing you know, it’s 7 a.m. and they are in the champagne room with a handful of tokens.”
4. TAP INTO THE NETWORK
“There’s a reason why the week of CES rivals a major event like Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas,” Kennedy explained. “Take a look at the talent booked at the clubs, the many celebrity appearances, high-end exclusive parties, you name it. They come to Vegas looking to work, but they really came to party.” It’s true. Most deals don’t happen on the conference floor. They happen in between the thumping walls of places like Gold Spike, so keep your A game ready to go — even if you have to slur your way through the pitch.
5. BE PREPARED TO BE SURPRISED BY EVERYONE & EVERYTHING — INCLUDING YOURSELF
There’s an old saying about this city — what happens in Vegas will more than likely end up on social media. These days, even your mother understands the concept of a tagged photo and will not hesitate to use it against you. “You will find that the locals who work in this city are some of the friendliest people in the world,” Kennedy said. “You will be amazed at how far you can go and how many doors you can open with the advice and recommendations from our locals.”