So, you're planning on coming to what's sometimes called “sin city” — Las Vegas, Nevada — for the NAB convention? Well, not to worry. The city has adopted a whole new attitude that may benefit the convention-goer.
For about the past 10 years, the city has tried to shake its reputation as an adult-only playground. In an effort to boost business, the city launched a campaign to have the hotels build more family-friendly venues.
Hotels were encouraged to build children's parks and themed attractions that families could attend with their little ones. Oh, sure, there were still to be plenty of casinos and X-rated attractions, but the city tried to tell the world that families were its No. 1 customer.
Of course, the Circus Circus with its travel trailer parking lot hotel was always positioned as a family venue for Vegas. For many years, it was about the only place you could take your kids and know they'd at least have the circus acts and arcades for fun. However, with the city's mandate, other hotels soon followed suit.
Bally's built roller coasters and a large theme park. The hotel's entryway was guarded with a 2-story tall golden lion. Inside, children could walk through a simulated Wizard of Oz mini-park, complete with Dorothy, the tin man, the scarecrow and, of course, the cowardly lion.
Treasure Island added a street-side pirate ship with two nightly battles. The attraction is so popular that street traffic comes to a halt during the shows. Way up on the northern end of the Strip, the Stratosphere was finally finished, complete with a roller coaster and a rocket ride on top.
Not to be outdone, several new hotels entered the fray. A world-class aquarium resides at the Luxor. The kids can play games with the Knights of the Round Table at the Excaliber and lastly, the New York New York is known for having the best potpourri of mini-restaurants and game rooms, along with a daring roller coaster ride around and above the hotel.
Unfortunately, the huge amount of money spent turned out to be a case of trying to put a G-rated face on what was really still an X-rated playpen. A tiger's stripes can't be changed, and Las Vegas' family-oriented theme has died. The theme park and roller coasters are gone. Many other kids' attractions have closed. The reason: Hotels realized that families don't spend money in the casinos.
So what does this have to do with the upcoming NAB convention? Everything.
This year, expect the more traditional “anything goes” atmosphere. Just like on the exhibit floor, what you see may not be real. You can buy anything — if you have enough money.
The city has even begun running a new series of TV commercials. Each of them involves women obviously embarrassed over their actions. One older woman is seen running from a wedding chapel as an obviously much younger man pleads with her to come back. Another commercial shows a woman and friends in a limo as they laugh at some behavior one of them is embarrassed about. Then comes the commercial's tag line: “What happens here, stays here.”
So, as you pack your bags for the long flight to the USA, plan to let your inhibitions go. Apparently any personal escapade can be left behind, with no one the wiser. Just keep in mind the city's real goal: for you to bring money. That's the one thing Vegas wants to be sure really does stay in Vegas.