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The American National of Realtors' (NAR) national convention in Las Vegas

publication date: Apr 18, 2008
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Dreaming of huge wins on the roulette tables and life changing poker hands, about 50 UK agents were delegates at the American National Association of Realtors (NAR) annual convention – this year in Las Vegas, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NAR 

‘Sin City’ and ‘Estate Agents’ don’t make very good bedfellows, but with some 30,000 delegates from all over the World, the NAR has to use towns with gazillions of hotel beds and very large convention centres. Las Vegas fits the bill perfectly. A convention of this size is considered quite small in the US. Welcome to American where bigger very definitely means better (to them anyway). 

A day on the plane, 4,500 miles and 8 time zones later, Las Vegas hits you like an over-excited teenager. Everything is in your face – constantly, coaxing you to play 24 hours a day. Sleep seems an irrelevant nuisance. 

It’s been 10 years since I last visited, and the City has changed out of all recognition. Not much remains as I remember it. The New York New York hotel which I saw being constructed is billed as being reopened, after remodeling, refitted and updating – in just 10 years. Las Vegas comes to life at night with all the incredible lights and displays of erupting volcanoes, dancing fountains and so on. During the day, it looks tired and a bit miserable, like most of the people walking the streets after a long night getting smashed and losing their shirt on the roulette tables or mesmeric fruit machines. 

There was great excitement within hours of arriving. The Stardust hotel was to be blown up that night, (to make way for another new 5,000 room hotel). Not something you see every day, so we struggled through to 2am to see and hear the quite incredibly loud firework display – clearly noise isn’t a problem given that everyone is still awake! – followed by a dramatic countdown and the explosion itself. 

The building collapsed like the proverbial pack of cards just 200 metres away from us and we were soon engulfed by the cloud dust that raced towards us rather like the TV footage of 9/11, fortunately without the tragedy. 

Gondolas in Vegas! 

The Sands convention centre adjoins the Venetian Hotel, which, as the name suggests, take its cue from the watery Italian City. I’ve never seen roulette tables in Venice, but this hotel has genuine Venetian gondolas with real Italian gondoliers who, with a wistful sigh, will sing ‘O sole mio’ or “the Cornetto song” as you might know it! 

My hotel is next to the convention centre but it still takes a 15 minute walk to get to the conference. The UK attendees who made the trip this year were given an endless list of lectures and talks to attend. Whilst the American way of selling property differs from ours, there are many common factors. 

We speak the same language which helps, and we want to make money too, as well as sharing business tips, leadership skills amongst other matters. 

Building international relations 

On Tuesday evening, the NAEA, together with our friends from similar associations in New Zealand and Australia, held a drinks party as they had done last year in New Orleans. Last year’s success had clearly filtered back amongst other associations as there were infiltrators from Holland, France, South Africa, Spain and even a chap from Argentina. National flags adorned the walls, with top marks going to Peter Bolton King for noticing that the Union Jack was upside down. He must have paid attention in cub scouts. 

Another early start the next morning. My cheap hotel corridor is strewn with hundreds of calling cards offering all manner of pastimes all for the same curious price of sixty nine dollars. The discount beer bar is still doing a roaring trade in the casino, and the tables are full of glazed-eyed punters. 

It is 7.30am. One of the great attractions of NAR is the well organised networking opportunities with specific countries. There is particularly good representation from South America and the Caribbean in the International 2nd Home and Resort Pavilion and they are overly keen to do business without realising that the UK market for high rise apartments in the kidnapping quarter of Bogota is limited. 

The Expo is vast. Row after row of stands offering everything from cheesy business cards with your photo on to supposedly high-tech ‘for sale’ boards illuminated by a couple of torches. 

There are plenty of competitions to enter with prizes including holidays, Cadillac cars and Las Vegas sized piles of cash. Celebrities too. Sugar Ray Leonard, the ex world Champion and Olympic champion boxer made an appearance, although what for, and what the connection was with NAR remains a mystery. 

Peter Knight of Phoenix plc has become something of a regular speaker at the NAR conventions, and this year his talk on ‘Profiting from International Sales’ had him on stage belting out an enthralling talk like a well rehearsed Elvis stage show for an hour and a half. 

NAEA Chief Executive honoured

Later that day, old timer Bill Cosby took the stage in front of 6,000 delegates to keep us all amused before the International evening black tie dinner. Attended by several hundred, including our President Stewart Lilly and NAEA International chairman Ian Tonge, the highlight of the evening was a special award as an Honorary CIPS Designee presented to Peter Bolton King by the NAR for his fantastic efforts in promoting business links between our associations. 

John Mike (a long term friend of the NAEA) who as the NAR’s presidential liaison officer to the UK was similarly recognised. The dancing to a great live band went on late into the night. 

The next NAR convention is in Orlando in November this year. Details from Tickets go on sale first week in May. 

Romans invade Las Vegas 

Pictured beside are the lucky 7 from the Romans Letting team who attended Las Vegas for the largest real estate conference in the world, with the lettings Managing Director Peter Fuller. 

roman teamThe team from Romans wasamong a handful of British companies that attended, joining 30,000 delegates from around the world and with over 260 seminars to choose from there was something for everyone. 

John Sumner, Regional Lettings Director, commented, “Our colleagues thought the trip was all fun – how wrong they were! The conferences started from 8:30am and finished around 6pm. We then met as a group and shared all the new ideas we’d learnt that day, by the time we had something to eat there was little time to sample Las Vegas. 

Ultimately the trip provided some fantastic ideas to enhance our service and I have no doubt that our clients and staff alike will benefit from the additional enhancements we make and new services we establish as a direct result of this experience, whilst it also confirmed that we are employing best practice in our company.”