A Look Back after Leaving Las Vegas

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So much went on at Club Industry 2012 that it's difficult to put it all under one headline. In addition to the stories and posts we've already published, here are some of the sights and sounds from my time in Las Vegas:

We had 35 people take the Zappos headquarters tour in Henderson, NV. The tour attracted an array of attendees, from club CEOs to vendors to single-club owners. Eating a box lunch on a bus like we were on a field trip in elementary school really brought the group together. A few of us even took a silly photo together once we got to Zappos. (Thanks, Christine Thalwitz!)

The Zappos company is one definitely built on fun. There were Halloween decorations and other rainforest-like items all over the offices. CEO Tony Hsieh's office is basically a cubicle in the middle of it all. Employees can eat certain items in the cafeteria free of charge, or, if they want a hot meal, they pay just $3. Employees' wishes for items ranging from furniture to cars are posted on a wall, and often, those wishes are granted by other employees. Customer service is key to the company, and so is taking care of the employees. Next year, the company will complete its move to old Las Vegas City Hall in downtown Las Vegas.

In addition to introducing Joe Cirulli and John DiJulius on Thursday morning, I had the honor of moderating a media panel featuring Ashley Koff, a registered dietician and a member of the Fitness magazine advisory board, Jeanine Detz, deputy editor of Shape magazine, and Devin Alexander, TV chef, host of "America's Chefs on Tour" and author of "The Biggest Loser" cookbooks. This was easily the easiest job I had during the show. These ladies were smart, engaging and insightful. They made me look good.

The Fitness Industry Technology Council panel session, moderated by FIT-C President Bryan O'Rourke, was packed. The panel consisted of Graham Melstrand, vice president of corporate affairs for the American Council on Exercise, Chuck Runyon, CEO of Anytime Fitness, and Kevin Laferriere, CEO of FitPro Services. O'Rourke has a nice slideshare recap, complete with videos and questions and answers from the panel. I'd suggest giving that a look.

Zuberance founder and CEO Rob Fuggetta discussed his social media marketing company at the social media panel on Friday. Fuggetta touted how Zuberance has helped clubs such as Anytime Fitness and Club One transform their members into marketers through social media sites Facebook and Twitter. Fuggetta's book is entitled "Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force." The funny part was, as Fuggetta was touting Anytime Fitness, Runyon just so happened to be standing at the back of the audience, not knowing that Fuggetta would be talking about his company. They shared a laugh after the session.

The second annual Fitness Industry Personal Trainer Summit, organized by Jay Del Vecchio, president and CEO of W.I.T.S. Education, was held Thursday afternoon. The panel of experts included Melstrand, ACSM's Walt Thompson and IDEA's Mike Bannan, who gave the keynote address at the session. W.I.T.S. expects to have a video replay of the panel discussion on its website within a few days, and once that's there, we'll link it here.

boom-boom-mancini-and-trainers.jpgI got to meet Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini and Star Trac owner Michael Bruno on the show floor. (That's "Boom Boom" with master trainers Sonja Friend-Uhl and Chris Davis; photo courtesy of Star Trac.) They say copies of Boom Boom's new book went fast at the show. "Boom Boom" and Bruno make up two-thirds of the Youngstown, OH, trio I wrote about recently. The other is actor Ed O'Neill, whom Bruno says attracted ladies back in the day more beautiful than TV wife Sofia Vergara. I didn't think that was possible.

Many attendees, especially me, enjoyed riding the monorail from the hotel to the Las Vegas Convention Center—and elsewhere as well. The monorail felt a little unstable as it sped through Las Vegas during a hailstorm late Thursday night. The next morning, at around 4:25 a.m., Las Vegas Hotel guests were jolted out of bed when a transformer on the street blew, igniting a few sparks and flames. No evacuation was needed, but the monorail was shut down for the morning.

What did you think of the Starbucks booth on the show floor? My vote is to have one on each corner of the floor next year to stay consistent with the company's ratio of stores per city block.

I was this close from blowing off our staff dinner Wednesday night at Public House at the Palazzo to go see Rich Little, who was performing his famous impersonations at the Las Vegas Hotel. Then I remembered that I'm still in my 30s. Somebody else during our stay mentioned the seemingly everywhere advertisements for Rich Little's show at the hotel and said, "I thought he was dead." No, no, those are just the people in his act.

In case you missed it, we're heading back to Chicago for next year's Club Industry show, Oct. 23-25 at McCormick Place. Leaving Las Vegas will be difficult, because there won't be another industry trade show there until…next March at IHRSA, or before that at NIRSA, or next summer for the Gold's Gym convention, or…

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