So you and your friends are going to Las Vegas? Bachelor/ bachelorette party, friends weekend, birthday or a sporting event such as the big game? Fuck yea!
We all know you are going to have an epic time once we get there. But between then and now what can you do to make the planning process easy and keep everyone in the loop?
First thing you to do is figure out the best way you can communicate and coordinate with your group. Get a conversation going with your group and to input on what everyone thinks what form of communication will work best for them. Email is definitely a great way to start. But make sure you all exchange phone numbers so you can quickly contact people directly. I have listed a bunch of options to the right with their pros and cons. Do what works best for your group. Email works great but gets difficult when you have group members that are not active, this underscores the importance of having phone numbers.
Our group has been coordinating large Vegas trips for over 15 years. We have used all of the below methods of communication at one time or another. Currently we use a chat service called Slack for our primary form of group communication. We do have some attendees that are not part of the Slack channel so we also maintain a Google doc that outlines the weekend's major details and employ the Las Vegas Planning Spreadsheet to easily calculate each attendee's cost.
Pro: pretty ubiquitous, easy to use, mobile
Con: not efficient, can't share web links over it
Pro: fast, also ubiquitous, simple
Con: hard to keep track of, especially group texts.
Pro: lots of text, easy to share
Con: some people will not read often or review the backlog of messages. Often recap is necessary. Real-time is hard
Pro: easy to communicate date and other details
Con: sometimes too conversational, some people don't use Facebook, not great mobile
Chat app like Slack
Pro: easy to use, mobile, sharing and easy
Con: needs to setup an account, app and learn how to use it
Google document or spreadsheet (or other online)
Pro: accessible mobile, fast.
Con: best as one way communication
Google + event
Pro: great event tool, easy to share pictures
Con: does anyone use google+ ?
WHO’S THE BOSS?
When coordinating large amounts of people it's good to have a single point of contact to guide things. The responsibilities of a person in this role will vary from group to group. Sometimes you need a person to crack the whip and be a taskmaster for your herd of cats while other groups may just need someone to document and communicate what’s going on. We highly suggest that you pick a person that knows most, if not all, of the attendees. For Bachelor Parties, the best man is usually this guy. For other group trips try to pick a Las Vegas trip veteran (someone who's knows the ropes). If this is the first time for everyone, pick someone who is good at communicating, with money, and keeping on top of stuff.
Basic responsibilities is to keep the conversation going, have people give input (so things are “fair”), get a list of attendees, coordinate rooms, get rooms reserved and costs calculated and collect payments for the room. These may seem like a lot of tasks but our Las Vegas Planning Spreadsheet can help you keep track of this all. A list of attendees can be entered into the second tab of our Las Vegas Planning Spreadsheet, make sure to enter in if they are willing to share a bed or not. This will help calculations out.
Now it's time to talk money. Some people don’t like talking money, but let’s be honest you’re going to spending some cash in Las Vegas. There’s no need to ask each attendee how much they’ll be spending over on on the trip. People will have different spending habits on gambling, booze, and entertainment. The budget you are concerned with primarily is how much money people are willing to spend on rooms.
Vegas rooms will vary in price. They vary day-to-day, hour-to-hour, and also what day and date you reserve the rooms. With the possibility of attendees going on different days or having differing length of stays it's hard to tell people it will be x dollars per night. Our Las Vegas Planning Spreadsheet can take this all into account for you and give you full cost per person based off of which days they attend. We also include taxes and resort fees to help give an actual cost.
Also, if you have the time and energy, it's smart to check back on room prices from time to time. As mentioned before, prices do vary all the time. I've been able to save money after booking rooms by checking the website, seeing a lowered price and calling in about the reservation. I've only had luck with this when I book directly through the hotel's website.
I allow people to pay me up front. However, as attendees change (people drop off, others add), you may have to give back or ask for more money. I take cash (obviously), but apps like Venmo and Paypal makes the payments super easy. The also keep me from spending the extra cash I get for the rooms. I always try to collect money once we get settled in the room and before we head out for the evening. This way I don’t have to worry about someone not paying me back. Remember to enter in what they paid you on the Las Vegas Planning Spreadsheet.
Our rooms at Elara last trip were about 400 per person. This is for 3 nights stay on the Big Game weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This includes all taxes and other fees. Not bad for a 4 bedroom suite.
WHEN TO GO TO LAS VEGAS
So now we know who’s the boss and how much people want to spend, but when are you going? Is it a mad dash Friday through Sunday trip? Is it more spread out like Thursday through Monday? Or perhaps a leisurely Monday through Friday? This is up for your group to decide. Communication is key. On big weekends, like the Big Game Weekend, our group shows up as early as Thursday and we all leave on Monday. If you are in Vegas for a big event, schedule it around the event. We highly recommend not leaving the day of the event,
GET A ROOM
At this point should generally know the dates that you are going, who is going and what they are willing to spend on a room. Now let’s book a room. In my experience the hotel websites themselves have very competitive pricing in comparison to the aggregator sites such as hotels.com or expedia. You’ll want to have an mlife.com and total rewards account made so you can search any of the MGM and Caesars properties. I have provided links to hotel properties on our Las Vegas Hotel List page.
Suites are typically nice since they have extra amentities such as a refridgerator, multiple bathrooms, jacuzzi tubs and multiple bedrooms.
When you book rooms make sure you know where you are staying, how many beds per room, rate for each night, any resort fees, parking fees, any other fees and the total. Once you get all of these you can type them into the first tab of our Las Vegas Planning Spreadsheet.
Our group has found that it's great to have a lot of room to hang out in and have refrigerators. The last few years we have been staying in Elara's 4 bedroom suites. This has a full kitchen, 4 bedrooms, 4 full baths, large living area and a few jacuzzi tubs to toss in. Downside is the location as it's a little off strip but super fun to hang out in.
HOW DO WE GET THERE?
Coordinating travel depends all where you live in the country. If you are within 6 hours of driving to Las Vegas, you may wish to consider driving. You can take supplies in your car such as beer, snacks, and booze. But make sure you are careful heading home after your party. If your party is all coming from the same area try to use a large vehicle. Making the trip into a road trip makes it fun, also ensures that everyone shows up at the same time. Remember, most Las Vegas hotels now have parking fees so make sure to account for that in your Las Vegas Planning Spreadsheet.
Flying is probably your best option. It is safe and usually pretty fast. Las Vegas McCarran Airport is easy to navigate.
Getting out of the airport can be a pain though. We advise that you use a rideshare app such as Uber or Lyft (offer codes). We find them fast, easy, safe and cheap.
Taxis are another option. The taxi line is typically very long (we’ve waited an hour before). Also make sure not to get tunneled, this is where they take you under the airport to I-215 to I-15. This is an all highway route that may be swifter, especially you are new to Vegas, but almost always costs more and takes a lot more time. Surface roads are typically the best way to go, this is counter intuitive to some. So when you get in the taxi, say please no tunnel. You can see below how much shorter a non-tunnel ride is to Luxor (right side map).
Shuttles should be used at last resort. We only advise you to use a shuttle if the shuttle only goes DIRECTLY to your hotel and ONLY your hotel. Some shuttle services take anyone who hops on board. Next thing you know you are touring the strip in the shuttle bus just praying to get dropped off at your hotel. Nothing worse being the last drop off after 20 other hotel visits. DO NOT DO.
Limos can be a good option, especially if you are showing up as a group or want to ride in style. You can pre-arrange from services such as presidential limo. Some will provide Champagne to you to make the ride more enjoyable. There's no lines, they are quick, and have good service. Style points too. Presidential Limo is highly rated.
Some suites also offer complimentary limo service. Make sure to inquire with your hotel when you book your room if the room comes with this service. This is mainly for high end rooms at high end hotels.
No matter how you are traveling make sure the attendee’s travel information is entered on the second sheet of the Las Vegas Planning Spreadsheet. Include airlines, arrival time, arrival date. This way everyone in the group knows when the rest are showing up.
For many years we drive to Vegas. Many of us live on the Central Coast of California and finding affordable flights that take less time than driving is pretty much impossible. The ability to bring supplies with us is a great plus. Others of our group do fly.
WHAT TO DO
As the Trip nears and you have done all the basic clerical work (booking rooms, coordinating travel, making sure people are coming). Now it's time to talk about what you are going to do. Now the key to planning is not to plan too much, but don’t plan nothing. We’ve found the larger the group, the more inertia it has. Thus, leaving the room(s) can take a ton of time and motivating people can be hard. However if you have, say, a dinner reservation you can get people moving. We typically suggest 1 per night. Something like bar crawl, gambling, going to a club, pool day, golfing, getting blackout drunk. Now if you have a large group we’d additionally suggest to make dinner reservations. Walking up to a restaurant and getting a table for 15 will be difficult.
DO NOT OVER PLAN.
Half of what makes Vegas fun is the spontaneity of things that happen. You just gotta get out there, and having a reason to get out there is usually enough to make things happen.
It's okay to split up, especially if the group is large. Don’t be scared, we are all adults! You do you! If you and a buddy want to go to a strip club (visit our handy guide to learn more), that is fine, not everyone has to go. Go have fun, you’ll probably have more fun than those who stayed back. If you do split up, hit up your group text, or app (like slack) to let everyone know where u are going.
On our last trip we went to Top Golf on Thursday night, Friday night we went for steaks at Bazaar Meat and then to Intrigue (club) to see a DJ, Saturday we headed downtown to have a few drinks at a bars such as Commonwealth and the Laundry Room with a quick hop over to Golden Tiki before returning to the strip, Sunday we visited Spearmint Rhino to watch the Big Game.
Make sure to communicate with people all the way through this process. Other people in your group have really good ideas that can help you out. If you are reserving the rooms, maybe someone else can buy the comedy show tickets so that you are not putting out a ton of money at one time. This all may seem like a lot, but trust us, we are the pros. Remember to watch our blog for updates to this page and others!