Saturday, October 10, 2015

Planning the Perfect Las Vegas Vacation Trip - Part 1

I'm Royal Flusher, and I've been to Las Vegas 55 times as of this writing. I'm the perfect degenerate savvy play-ah to help you plan your next Vegas trip, both in theory, and in reality.

Fifty-five times. It kind of shocks me that I've reached this milestone, but I've been at it for 20 years. So that is only, on average, one trip every four and a half months, roughly, or three per year.

Whew. I thought I was a total degenerate for a minute there. (Which is not an unreasonable conclusion, actually.)

When you take a vacation to a place like Las Vegas, it doesn't just happen. It takes a plan. It's almost like a mini project management exercise, my pal Jimmy Poon tells me, in which you must juggle a number of inter-related time-sensitive activities.

I wouldn't know, I just make grommets and gamble my face off in Las Vegas. However, I have a new trip in the works, so I'm going to share both the theory of perfect trip planning the Royal Flusher way, and the sad reality of trip planning the Royal Flusher way.

Here are the main things you need to consider when planning a jaunt to gambling Mecca:

  • Timing - when are you going? (and are you ever coming back...) - so many factors affect this - availability and pricing of the other things in the list, time off work, weather, what else is going on in Vegas, etc. etc.
  • Comps, offers and promotions - what room/food/gambling/comp tickets/tournaments or other offers have you got in the hopper that you might want to take advantage of?
  • Transportation - you need to get there, obviously, and unless you are driving to Vegas or are Peter Frickin' Pan this means bus/train/plane ticket
  • Hotel - unless this is a one night trip that you plan to spend in the casino, you're going to need a room to sleep it off, or digest that fourth creme brulee you stupidly loaded up on at the buffet (not that I have ever done exactly this - my limit is three cremes brulee)
  • Transfers - airport to hotel transfers or rental car
  • Pet kennel or babysitting for your kids - or maybe you can just send them along with Poochie the backyard poop machine to the kennel (I kid, I kid. Poochie would never share his kibble with the kids.)
  • Activities - because you need to see Mystere for the ninth time, waiting for the 279 pound baby to finally back off of the 10 story high platform
  • Money - Vegas runs on the stuff. You have money, you can get anything you want. Even an endless supply of cremes brulee. Oh yes, and there's gambling too

As you can see, a lot of things have to come together to get you to Vegas and get your grown-up entertainment jones fixed.

Timing - how to know when to go to Vegas

The answer, of course, is 'now'. It's always time to go to Vegas.

Timing theory

Pick a time-frame for when you want to go, and how long you want to spend there. (Perhaps that should be how long your constitution can stand to spend there having the time of your life, before your blood-shot eyes pop out of your head, you lie down in a fetal position muttering 'seven out... seven out...', and most likely, spontaneously combust.)

This is where you have to consider some of the other factors. Is plane fare available at the price you want? Can you get time off whatever it is you have to get time off of?

You also need to look at any of the offers casinos have sent you to see if there are any you particularly want to take advantage of.

Don't try to nail it down too closely just yet, because all of these other factors come into play. Shoot for a range of dates. As you factor in your other, well, factors, everything will come crystal clear. Trust me.

Timing reality

For this next trip, time off work is not a problem. I have a ton of offers for rooms and freeplay, and some tournaments I might want to play in.

Generally, we like being in Vegas for Hallowe'en. And we want to go for a couple of weeks. We also want to spend a few days out of Las Vegas.

I get on Kayak and start looking at flights, and after about two hours, my fingers are bleeding from click click clicking, and I have 92,000 different possibilities leaving from 5 different airports. I have 83 browser tabs open.

I have no clue what to do and give up and go to bed early.

Comps, Offers and Promotions

If you are a returning visitor to Vegas, chances are you have some offers you can take advantage of. These can come from casino websites you've provided your email to, thus ensuring a lifetime of marginally discounted room spam emails appearing in your Inbox forever-more. Or, if you have signed up for players' cards, and use them, and play a decent amount, the casino may grace you with emails or physical mailers offering free nights, food, shows, tournaments, etc. etc. etc.

Comps Theory

Dedicate a place in your household to put all your received mailers. Don't have a place? Get creative. Photos of kids and grandkids do NOT need to be taking up all that precious mantel space with their photographs. Use that space for something important - like casino mail!

Ideally, you could dedicate a plastic drawer for all these mailers, and then at the end of the year, file the older ones away or get rid of them.

Emails are simpler - they are there in your various email accounts. And you probably can search for them.

When you plan your trip, take some paper and list out the particulars of all of your comp offers:

Dates the offer is good for, Property, Nights and when they are good for (i.e. Sun-Thu, Anytime, Specific dates only, etc.), Freeplay if any, and Other (which is where you would list tournaments, giveaways, and so-on).

Comb through your emails and add to the list.

Log into your main casino websites like MLife and Total Rewards and scour your offers, noting down the usable ones.

Now that you've got all your comps in one easy to parse list, you can better pick your date ranges for the trip.

Comps Reality

I actually do have a plastic drawer that all the mailed offers are stored in. It holds an esteemed position with Chippy's dog treats and food-related toys. Digging through the offers in the drawer is like an archeological expedition, going back, back, back in time.
The Bin of Offerings (and Chippy's treats)
Emailed offers come to a couple of email accounts, and its pretty easy to search for them, or just look through the last few months of promotional stuff.

I make a file for each trip, and put the mailers that apply to the trip into it. 

Royal Flusher Vegas Savvy Travel Tip - Take the mailers that apply to your trip with you to Vegas. Some offers can't be redeemed without the physical mailer. Plans can change while you are there (like when your hotel turns out to be less like the Lap of Luxury and more like the Lap Dance of Luxury, for example), leaving you to book a different offer on the fly.

And, I do follow my own advice, and list out all the offers in my impeccable script, so I can try to shape the trip in the best way possible.

Your offer list can be this simple. And illegible.

Coming up!...

Now that you know roughly when you are going to Vegas it's time to look for flights... in part 2.

1 comment:

  1. I'm at 30 or more trips, since 1999. Probably would be a solid year of days added up. If I don't have a trip planned, I'm sort of lost. So I book some offers, some refundable or reusable SW airfare, with the idea that I can always cancel or change it up to a certain point. Which I never have. It's a sickness. I like this blog series...carry on!