This note is written from the Stratosphere, the tallest building in Las Vegas and the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States. The restaurant, located at a height of 350 meters, has a capacity of over 200 people, steadily rotates at an unknown speed to me, and is called the "Top of the World." Not Mount Everest, but it's not very cold here, and it's completely windless. 60 seconds in the elevator with 10 strangers, listening to the cheerful conversations of the elevator operator - and you're at the top. A short queue indicates that all the tables are occupied. After 5 minutes, a pleasant girl will lead you to the first available table, and this time I was lucky - there was a 110-volt socket nearby, and my computer was very pleased.
photo by Juan Llauro
The price category, like the restaurant itself, is high. The waiters are serious business people who, in my estimation, earn at least $300 per shift. With such demand for the establishment, I'm curious to know more. What's the average bill, what are the turnovers? And I don't mind admitting that I'm also curious about the average table turnover time. I felt that my presence at the "Top of the World" would lower the average bill and increase the average table usage time. So, I immediately informed the waiter that I don't eat or drink much (although I did order a glass of Malbec) and that I needed to write an article. I won't leave until I finish writing the article. It's sunset time, and the view from above is breathtaking. I became curious myself about what I can write before the restaurant closes and how many full rotations the Stratosphere will make.
So, Las Vegas. The city has earned nicknames like the "Sin City," the "Gaming Capital of the World," the "Entertainment Capital of the World," and the "Wedding Capital of the World." I first visited Las Vegas in 2004, passing through at night with a group of students from the Work & Travel USA program, whom I had organized to undertake a two-week road trip across the USA in a minibus I had wisely purchased for $400 specifically for this journey. We didn't have the money to stay in the wonderful AAA Five Diamond hotels and experience the full splendor of the city, which is a world champion in hospitality. We arrived in Las Vegas after sunset and left before sunrise. Perhaps that was wise. At the time, we were around 20 years old, and we had never seen skyscrapers, bright and explicit advertisements, singing fountains, night spotlights reaching into the endless sky, or the dazzling nighttime lights of a metropolis built to astonish. Living in Minsk in the early 2000s, I could hardly imagine what a hypermarket was. Of course, Vegas excited me to my core back then. The architecture, the cars, kiosks with explicit advertisements for sex and escort services, Ferrari rentals, live and invigorating music, hundreds and hundreds of slot machines, roulette, poker, craps, baccarat, bingo, and thousands of players around. Casinos. I remember my bets in 2004 so vividly. I enter the casino, take a 25-cent coin, choose a slot machine, approach it, play for the first time in my life, and of course, it's right in Vegas. My eyes focus on the spinning reel, my heart is calm, and... wow – I win $5! That's a 1900% profit in one minute! I take my newfound $5 and bet it on red. And red it is. In 2004, I won $10, I was lucky, and that night I made a proud exit from Vegas nightlife. On that night, we continued our journey: to Los Angeles, to the ocean, and to San Francisco.
photo by FotolEdhar
From Vegas to Los Angeles, which is to say, to the Pacific Ocean with its waves, beaches, surfing, Hollywood, and traffic jams, it takes about 4 hours by your own or a rented car. And it's great! Everyone has seen the movie "The Hangover in Vegas," about how a group of normal people, just like you and me, escaped from Los Angeles to Sin City. Such stories happen not only in movies but in real life as well. Ever wondered why, right across from the hostel where I stayed (Hostel Cat), within a 5-minute walking distance, there are 3 tattoo parlors and 2 almost round-the-clock wedding chapels? If there's demand, there's supply. I'm a curious person, and last night at 10 PM, I visited a wedding chapel called the "Little White Wedding Chapel." I was greeted by a seasoned African-American lady in a black suit, and in the next room, a wedding ceremony was in progress. We exchanged smiles, and I asked her about the cost of this little adventure. It turns out, it's quite affordable. The cost of the whole process is $156.57. Isn't it charming? For some, it's romance, for others, it's a dream, and for some, it's a harsh reality. But you and I know the secret of a successful marriage, don't we? Ironically, this time I didn't find a bride, but I did think about getting a tattoo. I pondered it for exactly 5 seconds, looked at my cards, and changed my mind. A tattoo? Maybe next time. It raised a philosophical question in my mind again. Does demand create supply, or does supply create demand?
photo from the internet
Vegas. Hotels ranging from $30 to $25,000 per night. A population of two million - just like in Minsk. Las Vegas was founded in 1905 - the same year the Trans-Siberian Railway, stretching 9,288 km, was officially opened. I couldn't find the exact number of people who use this railway each year, but millions come to Vegas from all over the world. Millions. Planes land, planes take off. 45 million passengers in 2015. People come here for various reasons. Not just to gamble, have fun, and enjoy themselves, not just to get married or find adventures, as Freud wrote about in his book. As for me, this time I came for the annual trade show in my industry - SGIA - I work in advertising. SGIA stands for the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association.
As it turns out, the world's largest annual conference and trade show for Solar Energy - Solar Power - is being held nearby. I decided to check it out as well. Solar energy is advancing. By 2020, 200,000 jobs will be created in this industry in the United States. The major players in the market come from all over the world - Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, and even (that was me) - Belarusians. While I'd classify Belarusians as Europeans, they deserve a special mention. People from all nationalities. It's very exciting. It motivates you to take action, like music that makes you want to dance.
Las Vegas ranks third in the United States for the number of exhibitions and conferences held each year. I easily found the schedule for the 2016/2017 season online and was pleasantly surprised by the richness of events. Approximately 10 exhibitions with attendance ranging from 5,000 to 100,000 visitors each take place in Las Vegas every month. The four largest annual exhibitions in Las Vegas are CES (Consumer Electronics Show), SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association), World of Concrete, and ASD (ASD Market Week for B2B). Just these four exhibitions in 2017 are expected to attract 394,000 business professionals and contribute an estimated $518 million, unrelated to the entertainment industry, to the city's treasury. I make a reasonable conclusion: If your business is related to exhibitions or casinos, you can confidently consider moving to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is a place of business and entertainment for tourists, but for local residents, it's their home. Where is the boundary between business, entertainment, and the everyday grandeur of life? In my case, work is often a source of pleasure. Not always, but in most cases, I consider myself fortunate in this regard. There's a peculiar line between work and leisure in my life. I strive to maintain balance, avoid overexertion, and make time for other interests in my life.
This time in Las Vegas, I didn't gamble at the casinos and fully immersed myself in work. To clarify, I mean working in a casino, physically being there but conducting my work. My work involves emails and phone calls. While people around me are engrossed in playing—slot machines, tables, large screens displaying races, football, baseball—I work very productively, write, make calls, and think. Yesterday, I had a 14-hour workday, and due to heightened mental activity, I could only sleep for 6 hours. I woke up and resumed working.
Why did this happen? I attribute this phenomenon to the strange energy of the city. If you don't live here but come for exhibitions and conferences and abstain from alcohol, then I confidently anticipate a similar effect of increased productivity in the future. The atmosphere in Vegas carries the scent of money and excitement. It's transmitted from person to person, and the entire network of people in the heart of Las Vegas (leaving aside the ordinariness of suburban life) is charged with drive. You can feel it; it excites and provokes action.
photo by Ivan Meme
The exhibition went well for me—I learned what I wanted, cleared my mind, observed everything from a different perspective, made new acquaintances, and made new decisions. This is how a quality business trip should go. One of the decisions I made is that I will travel more often and try to write about each trip. Traveling, reading books, and interacting with people help us build and expand our map of the world. It's an endless process that lasts a lifetime. The broader and richer our map of the world, the better.
But why write when you can just travel? When we write and share our thoughts with the world, we receive feedback, which in turn leads to our development. The people around us are a priceless source of information about the world.
Dear city of Las Vegas, I will visit you again, get a tattoo, play at the casino properly, stay in a fancy hotel, and definitely "hang out" with a group of friends. Sometimes it's beneficial to embrace your inner child, make reckless decisions, surrender to the spontaneity of creativity, and simply enjoy the moment.
Taking my eyes off the laptop screen, I notice that I am still in the rotating restaurant "Top of the World," located in the tallest tower of the Stratosphere. The waiter gives me a sideways glance, and I order dessert to calm his perception of me for another 10 minutes, even though I don't have a sweet tooth. I taste the dessert, leave it as is, and finish with the article. Dessert is like an indulgence in the 21st century. You don't really want it; it's an unnecessary expense. But traditions are upheld, time is stretched, and conscience is clear. Oh, yes. During the time I spent in this restaurant, I managed to enjoy the wonderful panoramic views of the night in Las Vegas from a height of 350 meters.
This city is worth the risks and most certainly worth a visit. .
Date: September 15, 2016
Editor: Alesia Karpach