Vegas is one of the top trade show markets in the country so sooner or later you can expect to land in Sin City for work. After 10+ years working in marketing, my time had arrived. Our marketing team was in town along with our grocery sales team for The NGA Show, a trade show for independent grocers.
The Marketing team arrived late into Vegas and after throwing our bags in our rooms at Harrah’s, we ventured straight into the belly of the beast. Gotta be honest, Saturday night on the Vegas Strip miiiight not be the best intro to the city. It might have made me compare it to Times Square with palm trees. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that). Once we fought through the guys handing out the “lovely cards”, the people selling beer cans out of coolers and the Chewbaccas of the Strip, we ducked into Chayo for some Mexican food and reprieve. After dinner, we walked around the Strip a bit more before ending the night with the iconic Bellagio fountain show.
(I should be clear that’s when MY night ended, but my boss definitely stayed out later on the poker tournament circuit… but that’s his story to tell….)
Already liked Vegas better after waking up and realizing what a beautiful city it is in the daylight. Flying in at night, you don’t even realize your gorgeous natural surroundings.
We kicked off our Sunday by spending most of the morning photographing Vegas landmarks with our products for our #TGFtravels campaign. We ask our fans to show us where their Truly Good Foods snacks have been by tagging us online with #TGFTravels so it was only fair for us to take some of our own for content. From the iconic Vegas sign to the Venetian to Downtown Vegas, we made the rounds.
We especially loved exploring the Fremont East part of Downtown Vegas and knew we’d be back for dinner. Think the artsier, cooler little sister of the Strip that feels like Venice Beach. Not to brag, but Downtown was also my first Vegas gambling experience and I came out the big winner of $220! Oh sorry, I forgot the decimal…. that would be the big winner of $2.20.
The rest of the afternoon was spent setting up our booth at The NGA Show. Gotta love when a time lapse video can make hours of work look like 30 seconds:
We’ve found that it’s always important to have a marketing presence at the shows to ensure company branding and product positioning. It’s also a helpful learning experience for us to hear straight from customers and prospects and also see how our internal sales team talks product messaging. Each show propels our team to return with new ideas and adjustments to make the next show even better.
After setup, we met up with our grocery sales team who arrived in town and we headed Downtown for dinner. It was our favorite meal of the trip at Park on Fremont. The four of us sat outside on their whimsical patio and I love the fact that our guys were cool enough to also appreciate a quirky restaurant with a princess carriage on top of the roof.
A drink at The Griffin followed which felt like you were in a bar in the world of Harry Potter, but one where Ozzy Osbourne was playing on the jukebox.
We called it an early night since we had to be up at 5am for the 5k race the next morning.
We were up early for the NGA 5k Fun Run to represent Team TGF. For half of us, it was light on the run, more on the fun. There’s no man left behind with our team though so we made sure to finish together.
We grabbed some breakfast and tried to squeeze in some work before the show floor opened. The thing to remember about working trade shows is that your normal job and responsibilities don’t stop, so it’s always a balancing act to stay engaged at the show (no phones in the booth!), but still stay on top of your day-to-day tasks and communications. We worked the first day of the show from 12-5 and it’s always great to meet with independent grocers and get the chance to show them our products and find the right fits for their stores. We had some fun too with our SNACK BOLD photo backdrop:
Dinner that night was back to Downtown Vegas at Carson Kitchen – a really cool restaurant started a few years ago by local celebrity chef Kerry Simon and carried on in his memory. You know a place is good when there’s a 40 minute wait for a table while every other restaurant in the area is empty. Whenever I’m in a new city, I love to go beyond the typical touristy spots and try to find the places that locals love. It gives you the true flavor of a place. Dinner was awesome with starters for both the Meaties (Bacon Jam) and the Vegetarian (Tempura Green Beans).
Not going to pretend that I didn’t feel a little joy when the guy from the office who usually eats all the food before you can even reach over to grab something, got the smallest entree of the bunch. I swear I’m not a horrible person, but the look of sadness on his face was priceless. #PortionControl
We wrapped up the night after dinner because clearly we are not that cool. Everyone back at the office might think work trips are like this:
But, they’re actually more like:
WORK ALL DAY.
LIGHTLY PARTY AT DINNER FOR TWO HOURS.
BED BY 10PM.
The morning started strong for me when I woke up early and played a little Three Card Poker. I won $150 which was a nice start to the day (For the record – the Vegas newbie had that beginner luck and was the only one of our group to come home with winnings). The second day of the show was slower, but good. Gave us a chance to have a second touch with some prospects and give out some of our branded swag:
Think shows are all glamour? Let me introduce you to the joy that is waiting for your pallet to arrive. And waiting. And waiting. You can’t pack up your booth until you get it, so those final hours can really drag. The euphoria you feel when it’s finally wheeled out is like no other. Our final night was a classic night out on the Strip with dinner at Scarpetta where the week came full circle with a table overlooking the Bellagio water show. Dinner was great with some of the best pasta we’ve ever had. While you’re in The Cosmopolitan Hotel, definitely check out The Chandelier bar too. And I dare you not to have the Sia song in your head for the rest of the night.
We walked around the Strip for a bit before landing back at our hotel. Like the good Southerners we are, we ended the night at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar with some live music. Yee-haw.
We left Wednesday morning and made it back to Charlotte later that night (gotta love a West coast >>> East coast flight). Overall, it was a good show and my first trip to Vegas was definitely a success.
But as the writer Hunter S. Thompson said about Las Vegas: “A little bit of this town goes a long way“.