I am awake. It is 5.39 am on Sunday morning, and a combination of jet lag and whooping from the corridors (that’ll teach me to stay at the Luxor) means that I get to see the sun rise over the Strip whilst I type the start of my inaugural Las Vegas blog.
Along with hundreds of other Brits from the licensing community, I joined the mass Saturday exodus from the UK. The huge difference in the flight cost is the real reason for flying out on the Saturday, but it does at least offer the opportunity to acclimatise before the real work starts on Monday.
That said, there is no point in retiring too early on the first night or it will make the jet lag worse (at least that’s what we all tell ourselves), so by early Saturday evening, most of the Brit contingent can already be found hanging around the Eye Candy Bar or various restaurants around the Mandalay Bay complex. Thus the networking – which starts at the airport before departure and continues on the flight and in the seemingly endless queue for immigration – really swings into gear. It’s one of the most compelling reasons to be out here; the show itself is clearly important, but equally so are the hours before and after the event, when contacts are made and relationships developed in relaxed and informal surroundings.
Las Vegas is a bold, brash city, and it’s a place where confident people with a lot of front feel at home. Perhaps that’s why the Licensing Show feels like it belongs here. I’d hesitate to go so far as to call it vulgar, but there are times when I feel a little on the conservative (with a small ‘c’) side. There are more tattoos on display than I’ve ever seen in one place and the ‘dress code’ adopted by many of the younger Vegas party animals is not for the faint hearted.
Las Vegas is also inextricably linked with gambling, which is perhaps another reason why the Licensing Show feels at home here – because in the end, a gamble is probably the best way to describe the majority of the deals forged here. There are hardly any guaranteed bets in licensing, and those evergreen properties that are thought of as safe(r) havens were probably signed up years ago. Shortly the wheel will start spinning and it will be time for licensees – and those few UK retailers who have made the trip – to start placing their bets.
The blog will be back tomorrow; the show itself doesn’t actually start until Tuesday, but there are numerous property summits, presentations and events taking place before it officially opens, not to mention a hastily arranged and unofficially titled ‘UK Licensing Summit’, which will be taking place at 9 am tomorrow morning at a venue still to be decided (anywhere will do, as long as it has a screen showing the England v France game). Anyone is welcome to join us!