With this concern at the front of my mind, and the experience of 2013, I set out to create two other events that would still have the Icarus Tours feel, but would be much more accessible for the average gamer. I will write separately about Adirondack Gaming Festival, instead focusing on why and how Vegas Con came to be.
The foundation of Icarus Tours is built on two concepts: 1) destinations that are worth traveling to despite the gaming that is available, and 2) keeping the cost at or below what a normal vacation to the area would cost. We knocked this out of the park with Teton Con, but Jackson, WY is quite remote and difficult to get to. I wanted a location that was easy and cheap for virtually everyone to get to. I wanted a smaller time frame to keep the cost lower and allow people to try us out before committing to a week-long vacation with us. Lastly, I needed a quality resort were I would know the guests are taken care of. I investigated about 5 different destinations, but all signs pointed to one place that would meet all those goals: Las Vegas.
Vegas is likely the cheapest place in the world to fly to, and similarly important, there are three large cities all within a morning’s drive from it; Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix. Vegas has no shortage of Resorts, so I was able to shop around and find the best deal. In the end I talked with 7 resorts and looked at 3 contracts. Monte Carlo was able to give me a great deal on the convention space cutting in half the required catering amount and being very flexible on the number of rooms required. I was super happy to end up with one of the nicer resorts on the strip for a price below the more typical value resorts. Their resort fee (all included in the price) covered things that most guests end up getting nickel’d and dime’d over, in room internet and in room coffee.
I have a lot of success working with resorts to bring my groups during the slow times of the year in order to get good deals on the accommodations. Although Vegas has very few slow months, they do have slow nights, specifically Sunday and Monday nights. By shifting the weekend from the typical Thursday-Sunday to Saturday-Tuesday I was able cut the resort costs by about 40%. Since most of our attendees will be enjoying the gaming, shifting the nights should have a minimal impact on their enjoyment. For most it also means the same number of days off work.
In the end I was able to offer the vacation at the price point I wanted which was under $1000 for a couple. At that price point I knew people could come to Vegas Con for less than they would spend going to most other larger gaming conventions. Anyone who has been to Gencon, knows that the $70 badge fee is just a drop in the bucket compared to the hotel rooms, ticket costs, and food, which is only the start of all the costs. I was truly happy when I saw a post on BGG: someone was asking how much attending a con would cost and one of the replies summed up everything that person had spent attending Origins. The post is here. The first response shows that the person would easily spend well over the cost of even the single occupancy price of Vegas Con.
I know we have a quality product, and our past guests agree, but now we finally have that same product at a cost that is accessible to most gamers. Many gamers have said they aren’t particularly interested in Las Vegas, typically because they don’t gamble and/or drink, which I sympathize with. However, I would encourage anyone to look over the information on the website about all the great things in Vegas besides gambling and booze. I discovered Las Vegas when I was big into rock climbing and would go to climb at Red Rocks. For what we do at Icarus Tours I think Las Vegas is a match made in heaven and we hope to see you there, so we can show you!