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Attending the 30th anniversary International LCT Show in Las Vegas will be as exciting for me as my very first show 20 years ago. I have never missed one since nor ever forgotten the first. Whether you are heading to our Show for the first time or been coming for years, let me share with you my mistakes, misgivings and misconceptions as a peer operator and help you plan your daily strategy for taking it all in.
All the action is at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Feb. 16-18, 2014. I made the mistake of staying in another hotel once; it is worth the extra money to stay in the hotel hosting the show. The convenience of being able to go to your room and drop off bags of gifts, product samples and “swag” you will pick up is worth it. You also may find you need a quick nap between events.
When you arrive at the International LCT registration booth, you will receive a bag of stuff including a show guide, brochures and trinkets from the show sponsors. The bag itself is cool and I have kept everyone of mine over the years. You also will get a name badge. This is important as you can’t get into anything without it. It also will contain lunch tickets for each day of the show that you will need to exchange for food. Your nametag and tickets will all be together in plastic.
I suggest you keep them there until asked for them. You also will have a ribbon attached to your badge that identifies you as a “First Timer.” I ripped mine off as I didn’t want to be known as the freshman or novice. This was a big mistake! The industry icons are sensitive to newbies and will come up and introduce themselves to you. Magazine staff members will reach out to you to make sure you are comfortable and answer any questions you might have. You just might be invited to dine with an industry icon who could become your role model or mentor. If you are an NLA member, you will also have a ribbon indicating that.
The most frequent question I get from first timers is, “What should I wear?” My standard answer is business casual. While many people wear suits, you will not be there to meet with clients, so there is not a need to dress to impress. In fact, I would stress you wear comfortable shoes each day. At the MGM, the hotel rooms are a long walk from the convention center. However, jeans and T-shirts are too casual and likely to turn off affiliate managers and executives at big companies and networks. The only true dress-up event is the annual awards show. Men should wear suits, and women should wear business suits or dresses for this event. The two evening nightclub events call for standard nightclub attire.
Budgeting For Food
You are on your own for food on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15 and 16, unless you attend the NLA Wine Tasting Event on Saturday night, which includes heavy hors d’ oeuvres. There is no food served on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday include free lunches in the exhibit hall. Tuesday night includes a full course dinner if you attend the awards show and pay a separate fee. There are multiple options in the hotel ranging from McDonald’s in the food court to high-end swanky restaurants.
The unofficial kick-off begins at 5 p.m. in the registration area. Here you can get free cocktails while mingling with recent arrivals. The entire LCT staff will be on hand to meet you and get to know you. Just look for the LCT nametags on our shirts and please come introduce yourself. Who knows? You just might get a mention or quote in LCT Magazine. At 7 p.m., the NLA hosts an annual wine tasting event. While there is a separate cost to get in, this event connects you to the leaders and stars of the industry. Even if you are not a member, the money raised for this event goes to charity. There is a silent auction offering worthwhile items and services. You will not find another event in the limousine industry with so many key industry figures in one room. It’s the perfect place to meet a mentor.
Sunday, Feb. 16: First Timer’s Orientation
Do not miss this session! You belong here. This is where you will meet the entire LCT staff including our publisher, Sara Eastwood-McLean, our editor, Martin Romjue and all our editors and writers. We will give you another overview of what to expect during the next few days. More importantly, we will meet you and may even sit next to you in an educational session or have lunch with you during the next few days.
Sunday, Feb. 16: Speaker Sessions
This day may seem a bit dull on paper. It may remind you of days in high school or college sitting in a lecture hall listening to someone talk for hours, but the topics at ILCT affect you and your business directly. Get an overview of your industry at the State of the Industry address, which explains all the major trends changing the industry, highlights laws, taxes and rules that affect your operations, and udpates the efforts of industry lobbyists to protect our industry. Knowledge is power. If you don’t know what is happening in the industry but only in your backyard, you will continue to run with your own backyard competitors and never break out to become a leader. There are also keynote sessions. Keynote speakers always provide the motivation and insights to make you more passionate about your business.
Monday/Tuesday, Feb. 17-18: Educational Sessions
From 8:20 a.m. to Noon on Monday and 2:10 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, you have time to learn. Educational sessions are color-coded in your program guide to your experience level. There are sessions for home-based, medium and large operators as well as ones for all. If you come with a companion, split up! Don’t go to the same sessions together. Get double the education by attending concurrent sessions and take notes as if you are preparing for an exam. There will be many handouts you can take back to your business and use. Remember, it may be Las Vegas and it may be your first time there or at the Show but try to ignore the spinning wheels of cherries in the casino while maximizing your first-time experience.
The Exhibit Hall
This is by far the biggest WOW factor of the Show.The exhibit area spans 100,000 square feet. There are rows of vendors selling insurance, car wash products, software and anything else you can imagine for the industry. You will find sedans, stretch limos, buses and trolleys sprawled thoughout the hall, creating a gleaming, massive showroom. Make sure you get a bag from the first vendor you encounter handing them out, or bring your show bag with you as almost every vendor has something to give you. It’s like adult trick-or-treating!
Don’t Go To Bed Early
Not just because you are in Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps, but the Awards Gala, evening night club parties, late night hospitality suites and casino bars are the best places to spark friendships. You can let your hair down after a long day, have a free cocktail with your new friends, and hob-nob with the Who’s Who of the industry while dancing the night away. While you might be inclined to go gamble or catch a Las Vegas show, neither will help you advance the fortunes of your business.
In sum, whether you have been in the business for one year or 20 years, the International LCT Show is the best place to keep up with trends, future developments and issues related to your business and the wider industry. There is simply no other event that matches this longest running limousine industry trade show in terms of size, scope, educational value, networking opportunities, shopping for vehicles and products, meeting new contacts and leads, and advancing your business skills.
International LCT Show Planning & Survival Tips
• Prepare a day-by-day agenda for yourself before arriving. Consult the latest schedule at www.lctshow.com.
• Download the ILCT Show app and post your profile and photo.
• Review the map in your show guide or app and familiarize yourself with meeting locations.
• Bring a list of people you want to meet.
• Bring plenty of business cards.
• Post on Facebook and/or Twitter a few times per day. Use #ILCT hashtags so you can keep up with other attendees and the latest info.
• Have a 30-second commercial prepared in your head to tell people about your company.
• Take photos of things that interest you.
• Wear comfortable shoes.
• Wear proper attire for events you plan to attend.
• Don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions, at seminars, at exhibits, in conversations.
• LCT Street Team members (with special badges) are there to help you and answer any questions.
• Carry your smartphone/tablet charger, but don’t forget it. Remember to have it when you check out of your hotel room.
• DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. Las Vegas has dry air, and the air inside the casinos is smoky. Water also helps take the edge off alcohol consumption.
• Eat three meals per day. You’ll need energy for all the walking, standing, mingling.
• Bring breath mints. Bring breath mints. Bring breath mints.
About Those Business Cards
Bring plenty of business cards to hand out and to deposit in the numerous fishbowls for vendor drawings in the Exhibit Hall. You definitely do not want to run out of business cards as valuable opportunities could be lost. Make sure you have a pen with you at all times while at the show. As you get business cards from others, make brief notes on the back of the cards about what you spoke about and other details. Most important: Make sure your business card states your full name, title, phone, fax, email, website, address and city and state. Remember, you are in the ground transportation business, so be precise. — Jim Luff and Linda Jagiela, LCT
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