MMS 2012 Travel Guide Part 1: Getting settled in Vegas

This blog post is part of a series. The other parts can be found here: How to survive MMS 2012.

So you’re heading to MMS 2012 this year! Good for you! It’s the top notch event for all System Center enthusiasts!

It will be my 3th summit and I’m not pretending to be a vet but can give you some nice tips I’ve learned in the past.

First of all I’m not going to bore you on how to survive the plane trip to Vegas because let’s face it. Plane trips are boring. Some like them… I think they are just plain boring but ok you have to get there one way or another (remembering the story of the ash cloud 2 years ago Smile ) Read about it here

TIP: Check your travel docs. Make sure you have a passport which is valid for at least 6 months after your stay and if your are from outside of states make sure to fill in your ESTA. More info here:

Packing for Vegas


If I compare my luggage over the couple of years I notice that I travel lighter and lighter. Vegas is in the middle of the desert. When the weather is good (which is most of the time) temperatures can sour very high. Inside the hotels and convention centers the airco is always on. This means you will be in need of some sort of sweater to keep you from chilling inside the hotel. Pack easy wear. Especially shoes. You want to get as comfy shoes as possible as the conf center is a good 5 minutes walk if you are staying in the Venetian, even if you go through the casino area. Don’t forget to take something casual smart as well. You’ll never know which party you’ll get in. Don’t worry if you forgot something. There are shops all over the place to complete your wardrobe.

TIP: Don’t forget your travel adapter power socket. Buy it upfront of your trip. They tend to overcharge for it at airports. Pack also an extension cord with multiple sockets of your home plug. You only have one adapter but want to charge your phone, laptop, tablet, camera overnight to hit the next day of the MMS madness well prepared Smile

Arriving in Vegas

So you touch down in Vegas after admiring the Vegas skyline during approach:


This never gets boring believe me Smile

Collected your luggage and good to go. You’re entering Vegas through the airport. Not quite. Vegas is still a 10 mile trip to the Venetian hotel (if that’s where you’re staying). If you are with a group of at least 4 it’s better to head to the Limo stand and get a limo to enter Vegas in style. Depending on the company this will cost you between 40$ – 60$ which is cheaper than taking 2 cabs. Make sure you negotiate the price before entering the car. Let’s face it: there’s always something nice in pulling up at the hotel in style. Make sure to tip the driver. The percentage is between 10% and 15% but they always like a nice tip.

Next thing to do is check in. This is a straight forward process as the check in is open 24h a day. Make sure to have your passport + credit card ready.

Browsing the Hotel

After you’ve checked in in your room and enjoyed the view you could start by browsing the hotel. We arrived always in the evening and to beat the jetlag headed out to get dinner/breakfast/lunch (damn those time zones!). I’m staying at the Venetian this year as part of the hotel + conference package deal of Microsoft.

Some nice places to have a nice bite to eat are listed here:

My personal favorites:

  • Sushi Samba for some of the best sushi in the world
  • Dal toro for some very nice light Italian kitchen
  • Le bouchon for a nice breakfast outside

TIP: The Venetian Conference center is hosting the event but the Venetian Hotel and Palazzo Hotel are forming 1 complex so really check where the restaurants are.

Check here to view the map of the 2 hotels:

It’s well hidden on their site but SO convenient to have it with you on the first couple of days because everything looks a like in Vegas: slot machines all over the place.

Shopping in Vegas


Ok. I must admit. I hate shopping… but not in Vegas Smile There’s a wide variety of shops in the vicinity of the hotel. We always arrive a day earlier and fill that day with some shopping.

Some great malls are in the center of Vegas and all hotels features some really impressive shops.

Right across the Venetian is the Fashion mall located (see photo above). Nice to do a quick browse with some nice stores there but for the real bargains you need to relocate to one of the malls on the outskirts of Vegas.

There are basically 2 which we frequently end up:

  • The Las Vegas Premium Outlet North: Nice atmosphere, nice selection of stores to keep you busy for a couple of hours, outside, bargains.
  • The Las Vegas Premium Outlet South: Less atmosphere (but it’s remodeled last year so who knows), similar selection of stores but somewhat smaller, completely indoor, extreme bargains because a lot of factory outlet stores (Nike, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Reebok,…)

More info and directions:

Taxi’s in Vegas


There are taxi’s all over the place, at any given moment approx. 2000! The easiest way to get a cab is just run up to a hotel entrance and get one there. On the strip itself it can be a wait because the most taxi’s are driving from one hotel to another.

TIP: Always check whether you can pay with credit or strictly cash. Just to not get any surprises when the bill is presented. It’s indicate on the side of the cabs whether you can pay with credit card. Always ask for a receipt of the journey while paying and don’t forget the tip!If you are with a group it’s always a good idea to check whether a limo is available because they are in general cheaper for groups but negotiate the price in advance.

Preparing for MMS itself

The tips above will get you started on surviving the first moments in Vegas but will not prepare you for the MMS event itself.

Stay tuned for the next blogs in this series which will cover the preparation for the event itself, taking part in the community and benefiting from it,…

Enough talk, let’s build
Something together.