Two weeks after the unthinkable happened in Las Vegas, my colleague and I touched down in the city for the METALCON trade show. Unsure of the environment that would greet us, I found we were met with the very definition of strength, and given a daily reminder of the message resonating throughout the city. The city is #VegasStrong. In fact, I feel it is stronger than ever.
In the association space, we are fortunate – we get to experience cities for our annual conferences or trade shows for multiple days at a time, often for a full week or more. We experience customer service, hospitality, and teamwork under the conditions of long hours, shared goals and the ultimate quest for a successful experience for all involved. Before we leave, we, and the attendees, exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, and partners, have left a small mark on the city and, in turn, the city upon us. During this recent visit to Las Vegas, I experienced that impact on a level that I feel compelled to share…because, in times like these, it’s more important than ever to share and celebrate the positive, the exceptional, and the memorable.
#VegasStrong greeted us at the airport baggage claim. It greeted us on the highway signage as we drove towards the Strip. It greeted us again at The Westgate Hotel. The messaging was clear and simple. At the Las Vegas Convention Center, I passed people wearing black t-shirts labeled #VegasStrong. The most moving was a black billboard adjacent to the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign that served as a beacon next to what has now become a memorial site; filled with flowers, candles, and messages of peace. The #VegasStrong hashtag imbues a sense of commitment to the message and a reassurance that the city is thriving, and full of everyday and extraordinary human beings making a difference in our lives.
I’m a big fan of Instagram. One of my first posts from Vegas included the #VegasStrong hashtag (as a caption to the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign). Based on my early interactions, I felt compelled to include it and send a message to others that the hashtag is true. There’s strength. It’s happening right now, and I’m witnessing it first-hand. My takeaway from this was a reminder that if we live the values of our messaging, it can and will spread organically.
While in the city, if you ever forgot the message, there was an opportunity to be reminded right around the corner. As an observer and visitor to the city, this felt very important. Not only did I see it advertised, but, I also experienced it personally each day.
I hopped into a cab near the Las Vegas strip on a mission to retrieve supplies for a program taking place during the trade show. The cab driver turned over his right shoulder, looked at me with a smile, and said “We’re glad you’re here.” It grew to be a trend. As we reached the lobby of The Westgate each day, we were greeted with welcoming words from staff and offers to help with questions.
During a customer service interaction at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, the staff member, Tina Hazy, told me that she wanted to make sure my request was taken care of during her shift. She followed up with me via email and phone during the day to ensure that could happen. She is an example of #VegasStrong.
While at the Las Vegas Convention Center, I rounded a corner near the food court and noticed a familiar face smiling and waving hello. It was Dee. Dee is a part of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau convention and meeting registration services team. I have seen Dee once a year every year for the last 4 years during the International Awards & Personalization Expo. She remembered me and made a point to say “Hi.” As a reminder, I see her ONCE a year! She works a new show every week, at different properties around the city. She asked about my other colleagues and told me to give them a hug from her the next time I saw them…I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. These are the moments that add up to an exceptional and memorable experience. These were the moments that once again…represented #VegasStrong.
The following day, I had lunch with a Professional Engineer attending METALCON who is a Six Sigma Black Belt. He was giving me a fun and timely lesson about the Kano Analysis, a model for analyzing customer satisfaction, which is represented in the form of an X-Y axis chart. If you have time and are not familiar, I suggest a quick read. What stuck out to me? The “Delighters” or Excitement Needs. Definition: “Unexpected features or characteristics that impress customers and earn the company ‘extra credit’.” I personally witnessed “Delighters” in Las Vegas.
I left Las Vegas with a trove of positive interactions and a renewed confidence in a city that had been shaken to its core. The true power of the #VegasStrong messaging is that it went beyond the words and became an exceptional experience.
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