Diaries of a Las Vegas Virgin

By Matt Swenson, July 10, 2017

Do you remember the first time you went to Las Vegas? I do. It was a few weeks ago.

That’s right—you could have called me the 39-year old virgin until MPI’s World Education Congress at MGM Grand.

In a way, I pity the event professionals who visit Las Vegas three or four times per year. While the city may never feel old hat to even the most frequent visitors, I’d imagine returning planners and attendees get desensitized to the spectacle that is Las Vegas.

So sit back and laugh at this newbie’s first impressions.

Everything is close but so far away. 

I had no idea you could see the Strip from McCarran International Airport. The 15-minute ride to your hotel is a major selling point to any planner considering Vegas. It’s also a precursor to what the rest of the trip is like. Getting out of most of the massive hotels takes 15 minutes; walking across the street takes 15 minutes; getting to a designated Uber pickup spot takes 15 minutes, etc., etc.

The sticker shock is real. 

Leisure travelers have to come to this gaming capital for years knowing they’ll probably walk away with a lighter wallet. From the comments I heard at WEC, it sounds like other expenses are representative of the destination’s latest golden age. A simple bottle of water (good luck finding a water fountain) costs $5.50 at a minimum, and salads can run you $30. Heck, even Starbucks is marked up three times from where you normally stop en route to work. Now I know that as long as you throw Gordon Ramsay’s name on a pub, you can charge $25 for a burger and $30 for a milkshake. (But I don’t know how either taste—we just got appetizers to share).

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Regaling us with his first impressions of Las Vegas, first-time visitor Matt Swenson cajoles even seasoned vets of the city to rediscover its magic.

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