On Tuesday night (January 11th) around 11:30pm, I arrived back home from my trip to Las Vegas.  I had never been to Vegas, and after all I had heard, it seemed like a fun place to be.  I’ve been wanting to go quite sometime, but have always passed up the chance since I have been underage.  Last February, while living in England, I turned 21.  That marked the legal age to gamble and drink in the US.  When I won a free Platinum pass to Affiliate Summit West 2011 in Las Vegas, I took up the opportunity to head over to Vegas.  The summit took place January 9-11 at the Wynn.  I started the Spring 2011 semester on January 12th, and my girlfriend left back to England on the 6th.  Since I had never been to Vegas, I decided to go couple days before the conference to tour around a bit and check it out.  I invited several friends and my family, and my brother John was the only one who could go/would go.  So, on January 7th, him and I flew out of Denver to Las Vegas, Nevada.

On Friday afternoon, John picked me up from my apartment and we drove to the airport.  After boarding the flight 15 minutes late, we sat on the plane for nearly an hour before it moved.  Apparently there was an issue with the air conditioning which held up the flight.  When it was all said and done, we arrived in Las Vegas around 6:30pm (Vegas time).  The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and some adult entertainment convention were taking place this weekend, and Vegas was expecting around 225,000 additional people to show up.  Most of the hotels were booked solid through Sunday.  After landing, we immediately caught a taxi from the airport to the old strip (Fremont Street).  It ended up costing a whopping $40 for a 10 minute taxi ride to Fremont.  After checking into our hotel at the California, we went walking around to check out the casino’s in the area, specifically along Fremont St. (the “old Las Vegas Strip”).  We jumped around to a couple casinos, and then ate some dinner (which ended up being like $55), and then we went back to the casinos.  We ended up staying at one until 4:30am or so before we went to bed.

We woke up Saturday at 10:30am.  By 11am we were checked out and walked around Fremont St. for a bit before catching a bus on Las Vegas Blvd into the main strip.  We took the bus down to the Chipotle which is located pretty much in the center of the strip.  We grabbed some lunch, and then walked up toward the north part of the strip and eventually to the Wynn (we assumed checkin time to our hotel [Excalibur] was 3pm, so we didn’t go straight to the hotel).  At the Wynn, we walked around a bit to see if I could pickup my badge for Affiliate Summit, but the pickup time wasn’t until 4pm so we left.  We walked down south toward the Excalibur, which was where we would be staying. Around 2pm we arrived at Excalibur and were able to checkin.  After resting for a bit in the room, we headed out around the strip.  We decided to jump around casinos and eventually make it to the Wynn so I could pickup my badge.  Around 5pm, we arrived at the Wynn.  After picking up my badge, we went to the Venetian and grabbed some dinner at the food court.  After dinner, we walked back toward the Excalibur walking through different buildings.  We eventually made it back to Excalibur where we gambled until about 1:30am.  I ended up having some nice luck, profiting around $300 that night.

We woke at 9:30am on Sunday and grabbed some breakfast at the Luxor.  After that we headed to the Flamingo and played some blackjack.  I pocketed another $150 or so, and then we walked around some more and then back to the Excalibur.  John caught a taxi around 2:30pm to the airport.  After he left, I went back up to the room and got ready to head to Affiliate Summit.  I paid $7 for a 24 hour pass on the bus and took the bus up to the Wynn.

Affiliate Summit West

I walked around the Meet Market, chatted with a few people.  After being blasted with every type of network you can think of, I bailed out and walked around to some other rooms.  So after a couple hours, I walked over to Treasure Island to check it out.  Around 5pm, I went back to the Wynn to go to the “Facebook Open Graph – Beyond the Like Button” session.  It was my first session ever, and to be honest, I thought it sucked.  Everything they said was quite intuitive, and really said nothing more than introducing wall posts and creating likes/comments on them, which anyone who uses Facebook would know about.  After that session, I gambled at Treasure Island for a bit and then caught the bus back to Excalibur.  I took it easy the rest of the night, as I was tired from the previous nights and planned to catch breakfast in the morning at the Wynn.

On Monday I woke around 8am, got ready and caught the bus to the Wynn.  At 9:30am or so I grabbed some breakfast.  The food was great.  After breakfast I headed over to the Encore theatre to watch the keynote speaker.  Drew Eric Whitman, author of Ca$hvertising, discussed the psychology of advertisements.  It was a well done and interesting presentation.  I learned some things that I will certainly apply to my campaigns.  After the keynote, I hopped online for a bit to catch-up on some email and then at 11:30am headed to the “Affiliate Marketing in a Digital World”.  The reason to went to this was to see what tips and tricks he had for affiliates to promote low priced items.  I thought this presentation was well presented, but poor in content.  Again, the speaker really said nothing that wasn’t intuitive.  He basically said in order to profit as an affiliate selling these products, you must upsell to create more revenue.

After that presentation, I went to grab lunch.  It was once again great food.  I sat and chatted with some people, and then walked around until 2:00pm, when I went to the “Profit From Trendspotting” session.  Once again, I was let down.  Out of the entire panel, Scott Jangro was the only one that said anything worthwhile.  Pretty much all the info on the slides was intuitive and very obvious (“Look, during Halloween sell costumes, during Christmas sell toys”).  Aside from what Scott said, I thought the presentation sucked.

The next presentation I went to was at 3:30pm, entitled “Mobile Affiliate Site Strategies”.  I thought this session was great.  All the speakers clearly knew what they were talking about and presented some great material.  I was very satisfied with this, especially after going to several horrible presentations.  After this presentation, I went and gambled a bit, watched some sports, and then at 6pm went to Shoemoney’s “The Next Evolution in Affiliate Marketing”.  He released a product called LinkControl.  The idea is great, and I can’t wait until it gets further developed.  I got a free invite at the session, and I checked it out.  I don’t see how to add sub-ids, or track conversions, which makes it pretty useless for the time being since all it does it rotate affiliate URL’s for you.  I sent an email to their support a couple weeks ago with some questions/comments but havereceived no response so far.  After that session, I grabbed some dinner at the Wynn and watched the BCS game.  I sat next to a guy who put $900 on Auburn.  I had $20 on Oregon, so I kept my mouth shut.  After the game I caught the bus headed back to Excalibur, played craps and roulette for awhile, and then went to bed.

The next morning I woke around 8am, checked out of Excalibur and caught the bus to the Wynn for breakfast.  Once again, an amazing breakfast.  After breakfast I went to the keynote, which featured Brian Solis.  The presentation was decent, and he shared some interesting data.  After the keynote, I attended the “Uncovering Advanced Paid Search Strategies” session.  I was satisfied with what Gill Brown shared.  He gave some great tips on managing and starting a PPC account from scratch and gave me some good ideas to work on.  It was interesting to see how a multi-million dollar PPC company starts a campaign.  After this session, I grabbed some lunch (which was amazing), and then headed to the “New Developments in Automated Monetization”.  I really enjoyed this session and got some good info out of it.  One of the guys on the panel was the creator a VigLink, which was aquired by Google.  About a month ago I implemented VigLink on one of my sites and found it a brilliant idea.  What a small world that I’d see the creator at Affiliate Summit.  Once this session ended, I took a bus to Mandalay Bay, watched some sports and cubed for a couple hours, and then caught a taxi to the airport.

Overall, I had a great time.  4 nights, 5 days was way too long to spend in Vegas.  I was ready to leave before the Affiliate Summit started, but nonetheless I had a great time.  I found it crazy that smoking is allowed in casinos.  I guess it makes sense to make people feel comfortable.  I hate being around people when they smoke, but the ventilation in the casinos was great because I rarely smelled it.

The biggest suprise in Vegas was the architecture.  I never heard anyone praise the architecture of Vegas, but I was stunned by it.  Many of the hotels and casinos look amazing both on the inside and outside, specifically the New York New York and the Venetian.

I want to thank Shawn Collins and Missy Ward for organizing this, and also for picking me as a student scholar to attend the summit with a free Platinum Pass.