HBO Comedy Festival and Comic Relief in Las Vegas

In Las Vegas you always have to re-orient yourself to being in a major center of the entertainment world. This week Caesar’s Palace is hosting the HBO Comedy Festival with a lot of household name comics, though major headliner Dave Chappelle has dropped out. After the HBO Comedy Festival event is “Comic Relief”, with proceeds going to Katrina victims.   That’s at Caesar’s Palace on Saturday with Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Billy Crystal.

I wandered into the promotional tent/event tonight where they are in the process of giving away cash, cars, T-shirts and cigars. AOL had a bunch of PCs with *superbly* fast internet and an espresso cart serving up whatever you liked. There were a couple of venues with “open mikes” for anybody who wanted to be a comic, but that was not going over very well.   In fact I was really struck (as usual) by how events here tend to be so awash with cash that does not create a direct return on the investment.     The sponsors would say these “branding” events have large indirect value but I think when we can better measure such things we’ll see how much is wasted by these approaches, especially when compared to online advertising methods.

One thing that really strikes me about Las Vegas, especially at the fanciest places, is the very high quality of customer service. Even if you are underdressed and obviously just looking around, the shopkeepers, security guards, and staff of places like Caesar’s Palace or the Bellagio are attentive and polite and even appear to be sincere. This is obviously the right way to turn a profit but ironically you’ll find inferior customer service at many mom and pop tourism joints around the USA even though they’d likely reap rewards for this as well.

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