fun, personal, travel

Strip photo from 1991 – what do you see?

strip 1991I recently saw this photo on twitter, thanks to the amazing twitter account of @classiclasvegas. If you haven’t seen it, you should follow it on twitter. Especially if you’ve been in Las Vegas for any length of time. Always showing old photos of Strip resorts, does trivia, just a really great twitter account.

The photo is an aerial shot of the Strip, largely the west side of the Strip, from just north of The Mirage. Of course, the Mirage had just opened a couple of years earlier.

My challenge to you – find/list/share the things you find of interest in this photo. There are many obvious ones and some not so obvious. I’ll get you started with some easy ones:

  • There is a golf course where Bellagio, CityCenter, Monte Carlo and T-Mobile Arena are now. That’s the old Dunes golf course.
  • In the very bottom of the photo, there is just a parking lot for The Mirage, where TI (Treasure Island) stands now. I remember parking in that vast lot (which extended past the photo all the way to Spring Mountain Road).

What else do you see? There is so much more!!

travel

In praise of small airports

I know all the reasons small airports are impractical, and why bigger airports are good for the airline and related businesses. Allows for the hub and spoke model, leverages infrastructure investment and scarce land resources better; attracts more flights from more destinations.

But I love small airports. You know who you are – John Wayne in Orange County, Burbank, Nashville. I’m sure there are many others you’ve been to that I haven’t that fit the bill.

I recently flew in and out of Sarasota’s airport (SRQ) to see my Mom; we usually fly to Tampa and make the longer drive because flights are more convenient – Southwest even has non-stop from Las Vegas – and prices are way better. But this time I changed it up. I had a typical small airport “amazing” experience that those who use these airports all the time probably take for granted. Dropped the rental car off at 7:35. Was at the gate with Starbucks coffee and snack in hand at 7:50, for a 7:55 boarding time. Given I was one of the few folks in the security lanes, even the TSA agents were pleasant and helpful.*

If I could do that at JFK or ATL, I’d be a happy camper. But just the train from one terminal to another would take longer. And in New York, the commute time from the city to the airport instantly makes this journey one of the worst.

I wonder how much longer some of these airports will be around. In some areas, where the small airport is the only airport around, my guess is they will continue to be justified. But Sarasota (and Fort Myers for that matter), and the LA area small airports could become obsolete, if just from a cost perspective. Among many reasons I admire Southwest Airlines, there strategy to serve these smaller airports – and in the case of Dallas and Houston and Chicago to embrace them as a strategic advantage and invest in them – is good for the customer, and therefore good for the airline. Heaven forbid, a company knowing that happy customers equals profits.

I certainly hope these small airports can survive. The ability to spend a bit more time with friends and family on vacation, or even to sleep in a bit instead of waking up three hours early to make a flight when on business, is priceless to me.

* No offense to TSA agents at bigger, busier airports; I get that the job takes priority and it’s a pretty damn important job. It’s just a fact that the business makes it harder to engage in positive interactions with folks – not impossible and plenty of them do it well, just more difficult.

 

 

business, travel

Sometimes business travel doesn’t go as expected

I recently had a rough day and a half of traveling. Now, I don’t travel for business that much and I generally have pretty good luck. So I understand that you all have worse stories than this, and of course I didn’t run into any crazy over-booking situations. So I’m not trying to be dramatic, my intent is only to entertain.

My 36 hours started at 6 am eastern on 4/5 and ended at 6 pm Eastern on 4/6. Two delayed flights, one missed connection. None of these were red-eye flights.

  • 14 hours on planes – including 3 hours of delays
  • 9 hours in airport – 7 of those during delays
  • 4 hours of work
  • 3 hours in cars
  • 2 hours on calls
  • 2 hours meal breaks
  • 1 hour in meetings
  • 1 hour of real sleep (also obviously napped periodically on planes)

Boy was I glad to be home after that!

 

arena, business, travel

Musings on safety and security

I’ve been on a lot of planes lately, really for the last six months. Seeing the safety videos or hearing the safety announcements got me thinking…

Airlines are required to give the detailed instructions. They also have the information in the pamphlet in your seat back pocket. It happens on every flight, no matter what. I presume the intent is to ensure as few people get hurt or die in an emergency as possible. At least recently we have seen some creativity in the messaging, with Southwest flight attendants making jokes and others doing funny videos. I wonder how the safety information for a couple hundred people in an enclosed space compares to other examples.

If we check into a hotel, we don’t get a safety briefing. We get a laminated sheet of paper on the back of the door that tells us where to go if we evacuate, and some exit signs in the hallway. There are no oxygen masks or life vests needed, certainly. But a hotel may have hundreds or thousands of people in residence at any given time, and no briefing.

Cruise ships seem to be in a really tough spot – the most people yet, and an enclosed space, and on water. The only benefit is we don’t have to worry about air pressure at altitude. Given the risks, cruise ships take the most extreme measures. They make us practice an evacuation before the ship ever leaves port. Grab your life vest, meet in the lounge, listen to the captain’s orders, then –and only then – can you grab your first tropical drink in a souvenir glass. And during the cruise, the crew is regularly practicing safety drills.

OK that’s a good recap but so what. Well, I wonder if anyone has really challenged whether these industries have done a true risk/reward analysis on their safety information, and whether they should be more aligned. Maybe one of them is doing too much, for example, or some aren’t doing enough.

In the entertainment business we grapple with the same issues. We try to ensure our guests’ safety in a number of ways, and you have seen these measures increase over time. Security guards, then police presence, bag checks, then metal detectors, then limits on bag sizes, clear bags only, etc.

I only see this expanding from enclosed spaces like arenas and theaters to other spaces like nightclubs and even more open spaces like hotels and dense retail spaces. I would also expect much more collaboration and sharing of best practices among industries.

I do not expect, however, that arenas will add life vests under your seat or make you do an evacuation drill, but maybe a themed nightclub will drop oxygen masks from the ceiling someday. 🙂

 

sports, travel

Big Events

I was recently in Tampa for the College Football Playoff Championship. Besides a nice side trip to visit my parents, I got to participate in a variety of activities representative of attending a big event. While there, I attended meetings with College Athletics Directors, visited with some partners to discuss strategies for the coming year, got to network with mutual sponsors of an Athletic Directors’ group, and was invited to a couple of parties held in conjunction with the football game.

It got me thinking about the fun times I’ve had attending big events. There are several things I’ve learned about attending a big event.

Pick your style

Planned out or play it by ear? When we travel, some of us are the itinerary type and some of us are the free spirit type. You can do big events either way, but be aware that even the free spirits should do some planning. For example, know things like unusual traffic closures, and what you are or aren’t allowed to bring with you. And if you are a free spirit, don’t expect to get into the hot new restaurant that weekend, or find a last-minute in to a popular party. But you can still have an amazing time taking advantage of the free activities that usually go along with a big event, like a fan fest. And the atmosphere and people watching in places like high traffic areas, public spaces, etc. can be fun all by itself.

Don’t do it alone

The best times I’ve had at big events are when I’ve been with a group. Not too large, mind you (or at least understand that 16 of you likely won’t get to sit together at certain functions), but enough to have shared experiences, and stories to tell the others in the group when you break off and have unique experiences.

Remember why you are there

If the big football game is what you are focused on, then get to the stadium early, map out a tailgate plan or secure a party pass, and enjoy the complete experience – walk the stadium, eat the food, etc. if you are there more for the pre-game festivities and atmosphere, go ahead and book a flight home right as the game is starting, at least you will have some extra room on the plane. And you will have already had your fun. If there is business associated with the event like there was for me, ensure that you don’t overdo it and miss important meetings and make sure you plan ahead so you can maximize every minute in what is usually s whirlwind few days. You never know which 15 minute interaction will lead to a new business deal.

Most importantly, take some pictures and take some time to soak in the experience. You may or may not get to go to another big event in the future, but there is no doubt those future experiences will be different and that this one was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

 

entertainment, travel

My apologies in advance…

If I don’t blog as much in the next two months, I hope you will forgive me…me and my team have a few things to do:

http://newsroom.mgmnationalharbor.com/mgm-national-harbor/latest-news/entertainment-nightlife/international-superstar-lionel-richie-to-perform-at-the-theater-at-mgm-national-harbor-thursday-dec-22.htm

http://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/columns-blogs/kats/stevie-nicks-pretenders-open-park-theater-dec-17

So nine months ago, our company asked us to open a little thing called T-Mobile Arena. I think it went pretty well. 🙂

I guess our company thought it went so well that they now want us to open two theaters in one month! No worries, we will be ready. I just hope they don’t keep this trend up, we CANNOT open three venues at once next year!

So in case I don’t blog I apologize, but you can always come see me at Park Theater or the Theater at National Harbor!

 

leadership, personal, travel

Perspective

I picked a good day to have a flight diverted, sitting in an airplane at a military airport in Kansas. Supposed to be in Dallas at a conference; couldn’t be less worried or upset about it. Today I am alive, spent quality time with my wife and some great friends this weekend, am healthy, have a great job working with great people.  My life has not been personally impacted by major scale violence.  So I will be late, so what. Amazing thing, perspective.

I consider myself very lucky, especially the last statement – how many can even say that now. My heart aches for people I don’t even know in Orlando, even without understanding the pain and without the empathy many of you must be experiencing. Senseless, yes. Tragic, yes. I hope we can get some perspective around reasonable laws or regulations to minimize such incidents in the future. Those of us who operate public places all fear that it could be us. We could use some help taking weapons like these out of the hands of people like this. I would rather us who haven’t been personally impacted by this sort of thing keep it that way. And do so in the memory and legacy of so many who can’t undo such things in their own lives.