Staying in Las Vegas on business: A survival guide

January 23, 2024

Gaming America has put together a Las Vegas survival guide to make sure you have a productive and cost-effective stay next time you are in town on business.

Funds and resources can be limited, and we know employers and employees alike don’t mind saving money whenever they can. Here are some creative ways to save yourself – along with your company – some hard-earned cash during your time working in Vegas, either in general or at the next G2E.

Air Travel: Booking 101

When it comes to air travel, we have found that the sooner you can book a flight ahead of time, the better. Planning in advance is key. Rates can and do vary throughout the year, but we’ve discovered that booking your flight months in advance will save big money in the long run. Waiting until less than a week out to book a flight can raise your ticket price anywhere from $100 to $400. It sounds easy, but we all still do it right?

Be sure to check a few weeks before you are scheduled to fly to make sure the airline’s schedule has not changed, too. This can help you save money if you need to change flight plans at the last minute because of any time-sensitive plans once you land. The later you book, the higher the rates could be, depending on the season. With that in mind, we recommend shopping around online prior to booking. Check the rates for multiple airlines and keep an eye out for discounts and deals. Booking through discount sites that offer multiple airline options can be another great way to save.

Airline selection can also make a big difference in the price tag, something to keep in mind when booking your next trip. Do comfort and ease matter? Absolutely! But saving some green on the flight can free up your travel budget for other trip amenities.

Then there is the question of luggage. Depending on your length of stay, what to pack and how much you should bring with you can change. However, many flights offer deals that include a free carry-on bag and a personal item like a backpack or purse. Limiting yourself to bringing bags you won’t have to check in before takeoff can save the equivalent of a Vegas cab ride, which will cost you at least $30.

While in the air, take whatever is free when it comes to food and drinks, even if you aren’t hungry or thirsty. Your hotel is likely to have a mini fridge that will keep your beverage of choice cold until you are ready to enjoy it. And you can store your snack for later as well, saving you the cost of a convenience store or hotel stop later in the day. (A caveat, however, is that many hotel rooms on The Strip offer a stocked mini bar, rather than an empty mini fridge; make sure you know which one your room will contain by asking during check-in (more on that later). If you are on an airline that does not provide a complimentary snack and drink, no problem. Check the in-flight menu for affordable options. You can often find snack and drink bundles for a slight discount. Even if you save a buck, the dollars can quickly add up. And it's easy to underestimate how much energy you really need for the tradeshow floor.

AVOIDING Hidden Charges

We learned the secret to dodging the landmines otherwise known as those sneaky hidden hotel fees that can end up on the final bill if you’re not careful. Here are the essential ones to avoid:

The bottled water on the dresser is not free, even if there is not a price tag. We found that not all hotels include prices on the strategically placed bottled water. It can be tempting to grab one for convenience, but doing so could cost you between $18 and $30 in Las Vegas, the equivalent of a meal out during your trip. It’s always better to bring and refill a reusable water bottle, for both the planet and your wallet.

Avoid the mini bar. Again, the snack prices might not be displayed… until you check out and get the final invoice. We also learned that hotel guests can be charged for unused drink and snack bar items when one hospitality worker was kind enough to let us know that those items are on a scale, and guests will be charged if they are moved. You heard it here first!

Dining Out, While Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

Meals in the city can be expensive, depending on where you choose to stop. The good news is that most American restaurants, including those in Las Vegas, serve entrées that contain twice a typical adult-size portion. And because the portions are so large, it is easy to eat half of your dinner and save the other half for the next meal, still feeling satisfied.

Remember all the ways you saved money on the flight? Here is where we recommend you splurge a little with those extra savings. Having a nice meal out because you brought carry-on luggage is a great way to make the most out of your travel budget.

However, you can save a little more even when fine dining if you choose a restaurant in your hotel or within walking distance from where you are staying. By saving the cost of a cab ride, you can treat yourself to a nice meal along with a dessert and cocktails. If you are in town for work and are attending a conference that offers food and drink items, be sure to take whatever is free. Grabbing a couple bottles of water from a complimentary lunch or breakfast will save you from having to buy something to drink later.

Check to see if your hotel provides breakfast in the mornings. Not all of them in Vegas do, but if you are staying somewhere that offers a continental breakfast, we recommend taking advantage of this option. This is a great way to get a hot breakfast that you will not have to add to your list of expenses.

Saving Money on the Road

Depending on where you need to go while in Las Vegas, taking an Uber or cab can be essential. We learned a valuable lesson involving public transportation that can help you hold on to your cash. If this is your first trip to Vegas, it is important to keep that to yourself... especially when riding in the cab. Some cab drivers often keep the meter going by driving unsuspecting Las Vegas newcomers around town.The moral of the story is to keep how often you have been to Vegas close to the vest!

Additionally, it is perfectly fine to shop around a little. It is helpful to compare the cost of using Uber to taking a taxi. If you need to travel a short distance that is too far to walk, hiring an Uber driver could be the cheaper option. Keeping in mind that a basic cab ride starts at $30 in Las Vegas, it is a good idea to consider saving the cost of a cab fare for those longer rides.

For shorter distances, it never hurts to walk. Regardless of your fitness level and endurance, this is a great way to save. The key is to plan and leave early enough to make it to your destination on foot. Walking might cost you a little more time, but the added savings can make room in your budget to splurge a little somewhere else.