2014 was my first year at ICSC RECon. As a 20-something year old breaking into the retail real estate industry at the largest deal making event of the year, I was grateful to have my boss with me who had 25+ years experience guiding me throughout the entire show. Below are a few tips from me, now an expert, on how to survive your first time at RECon.
1. Wear comfortable shoes and take care of your feet at night.
My boss joked about this being the most important part of ICSC RECon and she was right. I am pretty good in high heels, wear them daily and never have problems walking in them. But, I had problems getting through three days of RECon in them. I brought a small bag that I put my heels in and wore flats between meetings while I was navigating the map and trying to make it to appointments on time with a few minutes to prep before each one. I still had swollen feet so I made a routine of soaking them in hot water for 30 minutes when we got back to the hotel around midnight every night after dinners and networking.
2. Drink lots of water.
There are two factors here to consider: (1) It’s Las Vegas and scorching hot in the driest air. Just because you’re not dripping sweat from the lack of humidity, doesn’t mean it’s not hot. Keep a bottle with you and make yourself stay hydrated. (2) If you take advantage of the opportunities ICSC RECon provides, you shouldn’t have a break in your schedule except to go the bathroom and to eat a quick meal. You should be running around making the most of your time. This aloneworkoutrk out. Do not get overheated and miss your chance to shine.
3. It’s impossible to have a bad hair day.
The wind is insane on the strip. Check out my Mission Impossible Michael Kors jumpsuit and windblown hair outside the Cosmopolitan on the way to our next dinner date. Do not spend time worrying about your hair. The dry air and lack of humidity only require a brush to go from professional skydiver to top model once again. Spend time with your face in your notes rather than the mirror. Trust me, it’ll be fine.
4. Pack light.
You should know your appointment schedule at least a week before RECon. Plan your outfits down to what you wear on the plane to each day and dinner thereafter. I wore every single thing I packed for the first time in my life on that trip and it was worth the planning. You do not want to lug heavy luggage through the hotels, airport and on the strip. Also, it’s hot. Have I made that clear? Pack light clothes and fabrics that breathe.
5. You never know who you’re going to meet. Be prepared.
This convention brings over 40,000 people to one of the biggest tourist cities in the country. Feel comfortable enough in what you’re wearing so if you meet your next prospect or a celebrity, you’ll be fond of the memory. Look who we met at dinner with clients and vendors. Who doesn’t love the Cake Boss himself, Buddy Valastro?
6. Talk to everyone and always have your business cards handy.
Get up early, have your coffee early and get on your game from the moment you leave your hotel room. Talk to people in the elevator, in the line to get a cab, in the cab, people you rub shoulders with on the train or in the convention halls. We met so many people and exchanged so many cards that turned into great opportunities. You never know who you may be washing your hands next to! And BTW, wash your hands to keep germs on the DL and yourself healthy.
7. Charge electronics overnight and bring chargers with you during the day.
In one of my first appointments of the day, my iPad died. It was mortifying as a first timer. I had charged it all night and either there was a short in the outlet I selected or it was bad luck. Fortunately I had my charger with me and we were able to continue our presentation. Be cool, be calm and stay charged. #StayCalmAndChargeOn
8. Leave time between appointments and don’t lose your map.
I’m all about capitalizing on the opportunities this convention provides and making the most of your time, but don’t overestimate and over promise your commitments. These halls are HUGE – to the point where they have golf carts helping you to get from North to Central and South Halls. I highly recommend leaving 30 minutes before appointments. And do not lose your map or it is game over. Mark your appointments out on your map the second you get there. As you stroll (run) to your next appointment, try to look for the booths of your next meetings. Each looks different and they all have something unique to help you spot them. Check out two of our client’s booths, Tanger Outlets and Lennar Commercial below.
9. Be careful at the parties.
It wouldn’t be Vegas without some great parties – Deal making by day, partying by night. When you’re invited to these parties, remember you are still working. Also remember that not everyone else remembers that. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, maintain your professionalism and move on. Watch the flow of the party, the atmosphere, how people are interacting, try to recognize faces before you talk to them, know who you would like to meet before you get to the party, and keep it professional. I recommend a two drink max, because don’t forget ICSC RECon last for three days.
10. Have fun.
There’s no doubt this convention is work. But it’s exciting, thrilling, fast paced and can still be fun at the same time. Try not to let it cloud your judgment of what all of Las Vegas is like if you haven’t visited before for any other reason than ICSC RECon. If you can go a day early or stay a day late, enjoy the beautiful uniqueness of each hotel like the Bellagio and the Wynn.