Whenever I hear the word, or should I say letters, NAB, I smile. My mind immediately goes to hanging with some of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. Grabbing drinks outside the Vdara, eating dinner with a group of 20, the Kessler party and the wild and crazy showroom floor. I’ve lost count of how many NABs I’ve been to which qualifies me to write this post to guide you to your first, or even second trip to NAB.
Where to Stay
I remember my first time going to NAB. For some reason, where to stay stressed me out the most. What’s a good location? Should I be walking distance? How do I get to the convention center if I don’t want to rent a car? Here’s 2 tips off the bat. 1. Breathe (it will be ok) 2. Don’t stay at Circus Circus – seriously, don’t do it.
100% book your hotel via the NAB website. I’ve never been able to find a better deal. Additionally, all of these hotels offer a FREE shuttle back and forth to the convention center. This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to get there. Check the bus schedule to plan your day. The shuttles run a few trips in the morning to the show and a few trips in the afternoon to get back to your hotel. I’ve stayed multiple times at Harrah’s. Centrally located on the strip which made it easy to meet up with friends and get to different events/parties. Food is decent in there and no complaints about the rooms.
I would have most likely stayed at Harrah’s again this year but got together with 10 friends and we are doing Air BnB. This ended up being a little cheaper than a hotel in addition to food costs. If I do this next year I’ll book earlier as a lot of places I had my eye on went away. We will see how much I spend on transportation to get to the show and the nightly activities.
How to Plan You Days
As I write this I remember an old post I wrote after my first time at NAB. Wish I could find that. I had 2 major takeaways. The first is making a light schedule and the 2nd was to begin networking well before the show.
When it comes to scheduling, do what works best for you. Are you one that wants everything dialed in – if so you must be a 1st AD or Producer :). Or, do you want it a little more loose? What works for me is blocking morning and afternoon with plenty of room to run into people and chat. And although I look to talk to specific companies, I organize this by category. Lenses, cameras, camera support, lighting, gimbals/camera robotics, and accessories. Using the NAB planner this makes it even easier to organize my day and figure out where all the booths are. I will say, no matter how well you plan it will change and that’s why I do a much looser schedule now. You’ll be amazed by how many people you meet and conversations you’ll get into just wondering the show floor. Beyond the gear, there’s tons of great speaking and educational events. Be sure to keep an eye out for those as it gets closer. I’ll also post my schedule as soon as I have it.
Gear is great, gear is fun and there is plenty of that at NAB. However, make networking your number one priority. This should be your main purpose of going and it will yield your biggest return on investment (ROI). You don’t have to wait until the show to begin your networking. Start reaching out individually to those you talk to online and plan to meet up. Reach out to companies you love and let them know you’re stopping by the booth. This will open more doors than you can imagine. You’ll quickly find everyone there is there to meet and hang with other passionate filmmakers.
This sounds simple and a bit silly, but make sure you enjoy your time. Yes, you are there to network, learn about new gear and grow as a filmmaker. BUT – treat this as a vacation. This week can be truly inspiring and leave you with some serious motivation to kick ass when you get home. Use that. The things I remember, even from my first trip, are eating with a group of people outside for lunch, long chats at a random booth and hanging with friends after the show.
Hope this helps those that have never been, and those that have been every year. Comment below with your tips to making NAB an amazing experience. Hope to see you out there and we get a chance to chat.
Oh wait!!! How could I forget – wear comfortable shoes.