(From the May 14, 2012, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
AKRON—When I attended the annual NAHAD convention in Las Vegas last month, it was my first visit back to the true “city that never sleeps” in about a dozen years. A lot definitely had changed in that period.
Mostly, the construction boom has made it clear that the large, mega casino/resort complexes now clearly dominate the scene. Everything is bigger, brighter and definitely more expensive.
And because of that, everything in Vegas seems distorted. The Association for Hose and Accessories Distribution hosted its event at the three-hotel Venetian complex. The size of the venue helped make the hose group's convention seem smaller, despite the fact it boasted record attendance of nearly 1,000 on its first trip to Vegas. The NAHAD staff did its usual stellar job in setting up a first-rate convention and program, but in Vegas it's easy to get lost in the shuffle (no pun intended).
NAHAD normally dominates the hotel that hosts it. But at the Venetian complex, groups from Microsoft and Hitachi Cable dwarfed the NAHAD gathering. The NAHAD staff did their best to make sure everyone got to where they needed to be, even donning referee uniforms to direct attendees on the long walk to lunch at the “Emeril Lagasse Stadium” sports book. But one delegate commented that having it at such a large Vegas hotel took away the “meet at the bar” networking opportunities.
Even though it was a different Vegas I visited this time, I admit there still are some things you can only experience in the desert city. For example:
— Gates Corp.'s hospitality suite included a Bono impersonator. Apparently he was so convincing, a number of people got autographs of the impersonator, thinking he was the real U-2 front man. A rumor even circulated the next day that Bono had indeed made his way to the Gates reception.
One Gates employee said he thought, “Really. Don't they realize what city they're in?”
— Some occupations are pretty much only in demand in Vegas. Take the two women standing on tall stilts—we're talking like 15 feet high—at the Eaton Corp. reception. The firm's party also employed a woman with a large hoop dress complete with filled glasses of champagne for the guests.
— I'm betting the Las Vegas airport is the only one where you're likely to see a passenger have three empty yard-length drink glasses as his carry-on luggage.
— And finally, why couldn't the cab driver who knew so much about roulette strategy have been the one who picked me up on my way into town, instead of taking me to the airport on my way home?
Meyer is managing editor of Rubber & Plastics News. He can be reached at [email protected]