Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Adventures of Pneumonia Girl in Vegas

Just returned from the sales conference at 1am and am still trying to wake up and clear out my ears. Overall it was a good trip and a nice diversion from the raw first-week-of-January blahs.

We left Indy at 6:45 Wednesday morning (which meant we--the 10 people from JIST making the trip--all got up at 4am, on the coldest morning of the year). The flight was uneventful, and we were deposited at Bally's by 9am (Vegas time). Meetings didn't start until 12:30, so what to do? Hit the slots, of course! I was struck by how many Jazzie-bound oxygen users were already up doing the same thing. I was also struck by the fact that the almighty quarter no longer has a role in Vegas. Machines won't take anything less than a $1 bill. And when they pay out, they give you a slip of paper. No more ecstatic clang-clanging or hands made filthy by coins and tokens. No more plastic casino cups in which to tote your winnings. It felt decidedly empty.

After a nice lunch with our Paradigm counterparts, we had meetings until 5:30 on the sales force's new contact-management software and future acquisitions strategies. Afterward, several of us walked over to Bellagio for an overpriced dinner. We opted for a sit-down place after observing the hours-long lines at all the buffets. Then we watched the fountains dance to the accompaniment of something classical, and then "Viva Las Vegas." Because I'm still recovering from my Christmas illness and had been awake 20 hours, I turned in early. Too bad, because some of my coworkers went to see an excellent Prince impersonator.

The next day we spent the day learning about new products in the health care textbook line, as well as the online instructor's resource that goes with all Paradigm textbooks. Then several of us trekked down the strip to M&Ms World, a stunning course in just how far you can go in merchandising a brand. Then we stopped at the Harley Davidson Cafe for good burgers and BBQ. Another look at the Bellagio fountains, another $10 lost at video poker, and I retired for the evening. Again, I missed out. Had I stuck with the sales folks, I could have seen Big Elvis. Had I caught up with the marketing people, I might have won $1,100 at craps like they did.

The final half-day of the conference included our presentation. Our goal was to get them fired up about selling our products, which is a new line for them. I think we generated some real interest by carefully targeting our presentation to what we figured they were most interested in: where to sell our books and how to make the most money doing it.

We all made it home early this morning, still buzzing from all we had learned. Since the people who make up Paradigm are scattered all over the country, meetings like this take on a new importance.

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