Holding a conference in Las Vegas is always a good idea. First of all, it is obviously one of the major entertainment cities in the U.S. There is something for most everyone in Las Vegas. Of course, there are the casinos for those who like to throw their money away. The rest of us can find multiple first class shows going on almost every night. The shopping has to be some of the best in the country. And then there are the restaurants. Even if your significant other isn't interested in a genealogy conference, bring him or her along. He or she will find plenty of other amusements in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas hotel rates vary widely but are generally cheaper than similar rooms in other large American cities. Of course, I am assuming you are not staying at one of the super-luxury hotels that Las Vegas is famous for.
I especially enjoy the fact that airfares to and from Las Vegas are generally cheaper than those to other cities in the southwest. The airlines face stiff competition from almost every city to Las Vegas so they often discount the airfares to Las Vegas and increase airfares to other cities to compensate. Of course, that's great for anyone traveling to Las Vegas.
For instance, when I want to go to Salt Lake City, I often purchase a round-trip ticket from home to Las Vegas and then purchase another round-trip ticket from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City and then back again a few days later to Las Vegas. I then fly from Las Vegas to home. Of course, I almost always squeeze in a two or three day "layover" in Las Vegas so that I can take in a show or two. (I am not a gambler but enjoy many of the other attractions.) Sometimes this roundabout routing can even save a bit of money compared to a normal roundtrip to and from Salt Lake City. Even when I am not able to save money, I simply consider it to be a cheap vacation at very little extra cost above what I would have paid for a simple trip to and from Salt Lake City.
The NGS conference is being held in LVH Convention Center, part of the conference hotel. I stayed at that hotel a few weeks ago and can report that it looks great. Everything is located under one roof, both the hotel and the convention center.
If you stay at a different hotel on the Strip, you can easily travel on the Las Vegas Monorail that travels up and down the Strip. The Monorail is a quiet, smooth, and clean ride. Most of the hotels along the Strip also have easy access to the Monorail so you can stay some distance away (as long as your hotel is on the Strip) and still travel easily to and from the LVH Convention Center without an automobile. If you do travel by auto, you will find self-parking is free. Check out the map at http://www.thelvh.com/images/stories/monorail%203d%20map-2012.pdf.
My advice: if you think you are going to ride the Monorail most every day, purchase a multi-day pass that offers unlimited rides during those days. You will save quite a bit of money if you do so. Passes are available for one, two, three, four, five, or seven days. Again, details may be found at http://www.lvmonorail.com/. (Look in the upper left corner.)
The LVH-Las Vegas Hotel and Casino at 3000 Paradise Road has been designated as the official conference hotel. I stayed in that hotel for three days several weeks ago (on the return leg of my trip back from the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City). If you stay at another hotel, I'd suggest you purchase that monorail pass. You can purchase passes at the monorail station before boarding.
The LVH Hotel is an excellent facility with multiple restaurants including: Benihana, TJ’s Steakhouse, Burger Bistro, a buffet, the 888 Noodle Bar, Vince Neil’s Tatuado Restaurant & Cantina (Mexican food), the Paradise Café, Pizza Hut Express, Fortuna, Superbook™ Deli (in the casino), Chaise’s Snack Bar by the pool, a coffe shop, and an ice cream shop. One warning: when I was there a few weeks ago, I couldn't find much vegan food, except for a rather tasty veggie enchilada in the Mexican restaurant and a rather mediocre veggie burger in the Burger Bistro. (I recently switched to a vegan diet and am really enjoying the results.)
You can find other hotels in the same area at http://goo.gl/HB0Nv.
The conference will feature most of the leading genealogy lecturers of today. I won't describe it in detail because it is already well documented at http://members.ngsgenealogy.org/Conferences/Program2013.cfm. Check that list, I bet you will be impressed.
You can also download a conference app to your smartphone or tablet computer and carry it with you during the conference. This year's app includes a daily schedule, personal schedule, speaker and exhibitor information, floor plans, and more. To identify sessions that will not be recorded, the app includes a separate line below the lecture description that states, “No recording available. Take notes.” You can select the sessions you plan to attend, create your own conference schedule, and add personal appointments and meetings. For more information and to download the conference app, go to http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/maximize_your_experience.
At most genealogy conferences, I usually spend a lot of time in the exhibits hall. This year's list of exhibitors appears to be as long as usual. An interactive map of the Exhibits Hall may be found at http://shows.marketart.com/show318/.
One thing needs emphasis: if you live in the Las Vegas area or plan to be there for other reasons, don't forget that access to the Exhibits Hall is FREE and open to the public. You can stop in, browse the exhibits, ask questions, and make purchases all without paying for conference admission.
Free wi-fi will also be available in the convention center, thanks to FamilySearch, Findmypast.com, and the National Genealogical Society. While the access is free, you will need a user name and password which is available from the conference organizers.
WARNING: I suggest you use the free wi-fi as much as you can because the LVH conference hotel charges $13.99 per day for wi-fi connections. Yes. Really. $13.99 per day!! When I stayed at that hotel a few weeks ago, I used my air card in order to avoid the outrageous wi-fi fees.You can learn a lot more about the 2013 conference of the National Genealogical Society at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/conference_info and from the NGS conference blog at http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/.
I will be at this conference and hope to meet you there. And, yes, it looks like there will be an EOGN Dinner shortly after the conference ends on Saturday evening. I will write about that separately.