Darren Wagner, CMO
I've been coming to Las Vegas at least once a year for over 15 years for business and fun, and I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear that Tableau conference would be in VEGAS this year.
I wanted to share a few of my must-see ideas for any of you who are first time visitors to Vegas.Some of these ideas might even be new to the regulars. I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy this amazing desert oasis as much as I do!
1) See the free - and nearly free - stuff
Most of the hotels have free or low-cost attractions for you to enjoy while you walk around The Strip. The Mirage has an erupting volcano and light show out front; The Mandalay Bay has a great aquarium inside; and the Venetian offers gondola rides through the hotel canals.
But my favorite is going to watch the iconic dancing Bellagio fountains – you’ll probably remember them from the final scene of Ocean’s 11. While you're at the Bellagio, be sure to check out the seasonal lobby Gardens display. A little bonus for those of you interested in gambling around town, there's a blackjack table just off the lobby that is only a hand all day. It's perfect if want to play without putting a lot of money on the table.
2) Go Downtown, as Macklemore would say
Return to where it all began: Old Las Vegas. Take a taxi or ride the Deuce (the -all-day bus service running along The Strip) and head out for a Fremont Street experience. Watch the light show projected overhead onto the street’s canopy; listen to the musicians on every block; check out the action from above with a ride on the zipline running the length of the street; and visit some of the historic casinos (like Binion’s poker room, the original home of the World Series of Poker) that helped make Las Vegas what it is today.
I’m looking forward to seeing you there at this year’s Tableau “Data Night Out” event, when the Tableau Team will be hosting us all for an exclusive party taking over Fremont Street!
3) Get out of town
Rent a car and check out some of the natural beauty and manmade wonders that surround Las Vegas. If you think the enormous casinos are impressive, wait until you Hoover Dam. The Dam and Lake Mead are a short drive from the city and are well worth the trip. If you have a little more time to spend before or after the conference, the Valley of Fire State Park’s amazing rock formations, prehistoric petroglyphs, petrified trees, and scenic outlooks are a must see! A newer favorite of mine is Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness, directly south of Las Vegas, which features desert hillsides covered by surreal-looking Joshua Trees that could be straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.
4) Walk The Strip
Las Vegas has some of the world’s best people watching, so take your beverage of choice on a walk as see the sights of the strip. (YES, it is fine and legal to wander down The Strip - or any other street in town- openly swigging your beer or sipping a cocktail. Just be sure to avoid glass containers.) There are all kinds of street performers and other activities to catch your attention. Remember, to bring some singles if you plan to get your picture taken with one of the Minions, Elvises, or other characters, since tips are expected in exchange for the photo-op. (Bonus tip: Take it from someone who knows, the 3 Card Monty guy is good and if you play it can be an expensive show…)
I’m sure you have heard about the Las Vegas buffets, and my particular favorites are the Belligao, simply called “The Buffet,” and the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood. The food is great, the variety is fantastic, and you can indulge since you’re sure to walk it off while you sight-see. If a buffet isn’t your style, don’t worry! Some of the world’s best chiefs have restaurants here, and there is truly something for anyone’s taste. If you are looking for something special ask the concierge, a taxi driver, or even someone on the street.
6) Buy yourself something nice
Las Vegas has some pretty amazing shopping. The Forum shops at Caesars, Crystals next the Aria, and The Miracle Mile shops at Planet Hollywood all offer designer brands, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! While you are shopping make sure to visit some of the many art galleries and memorabilia shops to find a special souvenir. And don’t forget to leave space in your suitcase for all the conference swag you’ll be taking home. At the TMMData booth, for example, we want to set you up with a chance to win a Hoverboard!
7) Take in a show
Make sure to leave at least one evening open for a show. My favorite? LOVE, the Beetles themed Cirque du Soleil show. I’ve seen it three times and it never disappoints! Most shows have two runs each night - generally 7:00 and 9:00 - but check ahead because shows typically go dark one night a week. You can get tickets on the web, at your hotel, or, if you are making a last minute decision, you can stop by the TIX4Tonight just up the street from the MGM to get discounted, same-day tickets.
8) Check out the view
There are some great ways to get a birds-eye view of The Strip and the surrounding area. You can ride to the top of the 1,149 ft tall Stratosphere tower, the 1:2 scale Eiffel Tower at the Paris, or the World’s tallest Ferris wheel, the High Roller. (I would suggest going at night so you can see how the whole city bursts with light and color.) For those of you who aren’t as comfortable with extreme heights, there is a lobby bar on the 23rd floor of Mandarin Oriental with great views and wonderful drinks. There are helicopter rides available for viewing Hoover Dam and even the Grand Canyon, too.
9) Be a part of the action
Be sure to check out the excitement at the casinos and get in and play. You can always try your luck with one of the thousands of slot machines around town. Sportsbook will be in full-swing with baseball playoffs and pro and college football season, and it seems like there is always a horserace available for a casual wager. But be sure to go ahead and try a table game, too! My personal favorites are craps and blackjack. If you’ve never played before there are free lessons available, and the staff working the tables are always ready with good advice. (Remember, they want you to win because happy players are better tippers.) At the TMMData booth, we’ll be giving away blackjack strategy cards that you can use at the table while you play, so you’ll always know the right move.
10) Make the most of Tableau Conference 2015
With so much to see and learn at the conference, you’ll want to do your homework in advance to pick the sessions and speakers you want to hear. And pack your comfortable shoes; these will be great but long days and you’ll want to be in top form to experience it all! And of course, be sure to visit the TMMData booth (#607) where we’ll have some great swag and even better advice for using Tableau software faster and more efficiently when you pair it with the TMMData Platform.
We’ll see you there!