Tips for VMworld US 2011 & Las Vegas

by Bob Plankers on July 28, 2011 · 23 comments

in Virtualization,VMworld

As VMworld US 2011 approaches I’ve been thinking about the things I’ve learned about traveling to & in Las Vegas, and things that I wish I’d been told the first time I went to VMworld. You folks probably also have a bunch of good ideas that I’ll miss, please add them in the comments!


  • There are multiple ways for a cab to get to your hotel, but the Interstate 215 tunnel is NOT the shortest way. Ever. That’s a classic cab scam and will result in a 30 minute cab ride, when the Strip is 10 minutes away. Explicitly ask to go to your hotel via Tropicana Avenue.
  • Traffic on Las Vegas Boulevard (“the Strip”) at night is insane, so don’t be surprised if a cab takes very strange back ways to get you to your destination. If you’re in doubt just ask the driver what he’s doing. Vegas cabs charge for time standing still, so you might as well keep moving even if it’s a sub-optimal route.
  • Cabs cannot pick people up directly on Las Vegas Boulevard. If you need a cab go to the nearest casino and get one at the taxi stand.
  • Cabs can take up to four people, so splitting a taxi with others is a good idea. Especially on the way back out to the airport at the end. That’s actually how I met Mike Laverick the first time!
  • There are free trams that run between the Mirage and Treasure Island, between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo, and between the Excalibur and Mandalay Bay. There is also a monorail that runs the length of the strip but is $5 a ride. Check this map for more information. The trams usually stop running at a certain time each night, like 10:30, so beware.
  • Walking isn’t that big of a deal, as the Strip is only 4 miles long and the Venetian is right in the middle of it. Stay on Las Vegas Boulevard, though. Going a couple blocks off of it can get you into some seedy areas.

General Casino:

  • Many casino ATMs only issue $100 bills. However, all casino floors have change machines and cashiers, both of which can assist you in getting smaller denominations of money.
  • Drinks of any type, alcoholic or not, are free while you’re playing a game. This is true of all games, from table games to video poker & slots. Don’t be afraid to order what you want. It’s customary to tip the waitresses $1 every drink or two. Of course, you should weigh the price of a beer against what you’re going to lose by gambling…
  • If you’re interested in learning how to play a particular casino game most casinos have tutorials scheduled throughout the day & night.
  • If you do play there is usually some etiquette and superstition for each game. Look it up. For example, you never say the word “seven” around a craps table.


  • Good walking shoes are key. If you need a new pair, or a new pair of arch supports/inserts, get them now and break them in. If you’re doing it right you’ll be on your feet a lot.
  • In years past VMworld has issued everybody a backpack and water bottle, but I tend to bring my own, partly because my day pack is more comfortable and larger, partly because that’s what I bring on the plane anyhow. Regardless, there’s a lot of distance between your room and the conference hall, and it’s nice to have a place to stow swag, laptops, casino winnings, etc.
  • Leave room in your luggage for all the iPads you’re going to win. Doubly so if you’re @NerdBlurt.
  • All the sessions are recorded, which, for me, means I prioritize sessions where I can ask questions and participate. It also means that I’ll sometimes opt to do labs or visit the Solutions Exchange in lieu of sessions, too. Labs are great, make sure you do them!
  • Conference WiFi always sucks. Fact of life, all conferences, all the time (except Interop, which just makes sense). Likewise, hotel networking is always 100000000000% oversubscribed. Use the time to do some human networking instead.
  • Talk to your vendor reps now, while you’re at home. See if they are throwing any parties or happy hours at VMworld, and get yourself invited to them.
  • Most of all, enjoy yourself. This should be the fun part of your virtualization work!

That’s all I can think of right now. What am I missing? Add it below!


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