Las Vegas, the neon oasis in the desert, is unlike any other U.S. city. Where else can you get married, win (or lose) the family-fortune, eat a five-dollar steak, and take in a quality theatrical show all in the same night?

And from March 22 through 26, Sin City will also be home to the 2004 Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) Convention and Trade Show. Convention chairman Ryan Hendley is predicting a record year.

“Vegas is always our best draw and we keep improving each year,” says Hendley, also president of BSCAI and CEO of IH Services Inc., Greenville, S.C.

Held at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Las Vegas Hilton Hotel, the BSCAI annual event offers educational seminars, training, and plenty of opportunity to network and learn how your company can grow.

“Network with other companies that have been successful,” advises Hendley. “Find out how other companies do business.”

Like last year, seminars will be offered in tracks. Tracks include sales, human resources, operations, residential, in-house and industry suppliers.

And of course, don’t forget about walking the trade-show floor. BSCAI also gives building service contractors the opportunity to see the latest cleaning innovations.

“I don’t care how many trade shows someone has been to; you’ll always see something interesting if you take time to see every booth,” says Hendley. “There is something there for everyone.”

Something for everyone, indeed. Here are some show highlights:

All-day seminars: Tuesday’s supervision seminar teaches how to communicate, motivate, train and lead employees. For the first time, the seminar will be offered separately in Spanish. On Wednesday and Thursday, BSCs can learn how to bid a building for profit in the bidding and estimating seminar.

Outselling the competition: General sessions will start each day of the convention to inspire BSCs with useful tips. In Tuesday’s opening general session, businessman and author Brian Tracy will teach BSCs how to outsell their competition. Tracy is the chairman of Brian Tracy International, a human-resource company based in San Diego, with affiliates throughout America and worldwide. As one of the most popular business speakers in the world, Tracy’s seminars on leadership, sales management and personal effectiveness help bring about changes with long-term results.

Learning from customers: Wednesday’s general session will be a property-managers panel with David W. Hewett, CCIM, CPM, RPA, CFM, FMA, vice-chairman of Building Owners and Managers Association International and alliance director for Trammell Crow Company Global Services, Auburn Hills, Mich. Also on the panel is Sheila M. Sheridan, CFM, CFMJ, CPM, International Facility Management Association chair and director of facilities and services at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Boston. Both Hewett and Sheridan will answer questions on how building managers choose their BSCs, what they do to help BSCs, what would managers like to see from their BSCs and more.

Lighten up!: Larry Winget is a philosopher of success. He believes everyone takes business too seriously and need to relax and keep life in perspective. In Thursday’s General Session, Winget will tell funny stories that also teach universal principles that can work for anyone, in any business and at any time.

Profit power: In Friday’s General Session, consultant and author, Bob Langdon, CPA, will help BSCs increase profits without having to increase sales. Langdon will address three ways to improve profitability and how to accomplish all three simultaneously.

Tracy, Winget and Langdon will all be on hand following the sessions to sign copies of their respective publications.

Blackjack, poker and the roulette wheel
This year’s show theme is “Win Big at BSCAI.” So, after the convention, why not try your luck on a hand of blackjack or put some quarters in a slot machine? If gambling isn’t your thing, don’t worry; when it comes to entertainment, Las Vegas has plenty else to offer.

On the cultural side, Las Vegas has its fair share of museums. But while the Las Vegas Art Museum (9600 W. Sahara Ave) or the George L. Sturman Museum of Fine Art (107 E. Charleston Blvd.) may be great places to start, it might also be fun to try something a bit off-beat. For instance, the Liberace Museum (1775 E. Tropicana Ave.) features a collection of “Mr. Showmanship’s” jewelry, antiques, wardrobe, pianos, awards and cars. At the Guinness World Records Museum (2780 Las Vegas Blvd.), you can compare your height to a life-size replica of Robert Wadlow who was the world’s tallest man at 8-feet 11 inches; or see 7,000 magnets belonging to “The Magnet Lady” (aka Louise J. Greenfarb), who set the record for “largest refrigerator magnet” collection at more than 32,000 magnets.

Want to rub shoulders with Harrison Ford, Oprah Winfrey, Joe Montana or even President George W. Bush? Then head over to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum (3377 S. Las Vegas Blvd.) to socialize with the big stars. And what would Las Vegas be without Elvis Presley? At the Elvis-a-Rama Museum (3401 Industrial Rd.), Elvis impersonators perform live shows daily. While you’re there, check out a collection of the King’s cars, jumpsuits, jewelry, personal documents and hand-written letters.

Walking the strip can work up quite an appetite. Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd.) serves up celebrity chef’s Emeril Lagasse’s blend of cajun and creole cooking. Bam!

Or, combine dining with the museum experience. The Renoir at the Mirage Las Vegas Resort (3400 Las Vegas Blvd.) serves French cuisine while surrounding the diners with original works by the impressionist artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Similarly, Picasso in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino (3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd.) features 11 of Pablo Picasso’s canvasses and serves seasonal French-Mediterranean cuisine from either a four-course tasting menu or a five-course Chef’s Degustation.

Finally, most hotels and resorts offer their own signature buffet. The Paris Las Vegas Resort and Casino (3655 S. Las Vegas Blvd) offers the Le Village Buffet that is a favorite with tourists. The buffet features food from five French provinces served in a French village setting.

Saving your cash for the tables? Grab a 99-cent shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate (1 E. Fremont St.).

Since you won’t be able to find a clock anywhere in the city, why not just stay out all night? Sin City has an abundance of entertainment after dark. Cirque du Soleil is the current hot ticket with three unique shows offered — “Mystére” at the Treasure Island Hotel (3300 S. Las Vegas Blvd.), “O” at the Bellagio, and the new “Zumanity” at the New York-New York Hotel and Casino (3790 S. Las Vegas Blvd.). A mix of acrobatics, music, costumes and dance, the shows are worth the price of the ticket.

If you’re looking to laugh, Second City at the Flamingo Hotel (3555 S. Las Vegas Blvd.) is the place for you. The famous comedy club has given rise to many “Saturday Night Live” alumni. Also, try the Improv Comedy Club at Harrah’s (3475 S. Las Vegas Blvd.).

In downtown Las Vegas, The Fremont Street Experience hosts the world’s largest street party with five city blocks of street performers, live music and food and drink. A light and sound show is performed each night at dusk.
With so much to see and do, you may be like Elvis and wishing “that there were more than 24 hours in the day.” Viva Las Vegas!

To register for the convention either call 800-368-3414 or 703-359-7090; fax 703-352-0493; mail to BSCAI, 10201 Lee Highway, Suite 225, Fairfax, VA 22030; or log on.