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Vegas & Zappos.com - Business in the Front, Party in the Back!

OK, this week's update is really a blog post of the 72 hours in Las Vegas last week!  I got together with 6 old friends.

The trip started with a detour from Toronto to Montreal.  For some reason the only Las Vegas flights we could find that met our schedule were on WestJet and traveled to Sin City via Montreal.

But it was worth it because look who sat next to us on the plane!

Georges St-Pierre, one of the current UFC Welterweight Champion, and one of my favourite sports personalities sat down right next to us.  This prompted some urgent text messages to Nick before the plane took off....he's also a huge fan of St-Pierre.  We actually went to see one of his fights in NJ just a few weeks ago.

Georges was smiling the entire flight but I think he got scared while taking this picture when he saw me clench my fist 😉

I can now confirm from first hand experience that he's one of the nicest guys in the sport and represents Canada and all Canadians extremely well.

He made several comments about respecting the sport and leaving a legacy - he's a class act and is the definition of hard work and dedication.  To us, he's another reminder of what you can achieve when you dedicate yourself to results and avoid making excuses.

After snapping a quick picture we headed off to meet the Zappos.com rep that was at the airport to pick us up.  Zappos.com offers free tours of their HQ in Las Vegas.  They were recently purchased by Amazon.com for 1.2 Billion Dollars and are ranked as one of the best places to work in the USA - so naturally I wanted to check them out!

We heard Tony Hsieh, the CEO, speak at a conference a year ago and were completely impressed with his approach to business building.

As you walk in the front door you think you're at an amusement park ... there's popcorn and free drinks, a pinball machine and some Zappos employees where having some sort of contest right in front of the main doors.

When we found the front desk we knew we were right at home ... super friendly people (they even called my phone after our plane landed to check that we arrived OK - remember, this tour is 100% free, they pick you up at the airport and then drop you off at your Vegas hotel ... I'm not even a customer - YET!).

Check out the Energy Drinks ... Rock Star!

As the tour began the first thing that struck me was how open they were.  You were allowed to see EVERYTHING.  The messy desks, live meetings, customer phone calls ... nothing was held back.  It was amazing and eye-opening in many ways.

And you immediately are struck by how much fun everyone is having.  There's a definite party atmosphere.

What also struck me was how openly they share things, here's a sign that clearly outlines their Direct Marketing strategies ... this is a company that does over $1,000,000,000 in revenues showing you how they do their marketing.  Unbelievable.

We're strong believers in Direct Marketing ourselves so it was nice to see how far someone else has been able to take it.

If you look closely you'll see four categories: Email Marketing, Comparison Shopping Sites, Affiliate Marketing and Search Engine Marketing.

(Aside: We're thinking of holding an all day class on each of these, if you're interested drop us a line)

The next cool thingy was a flat screen TV on the wall that shows every single item being purchased in REAL TIME on a MAP so you can see where in the world the order is coming from!

Super cool...

See that bell on the wall?  They make one person on the tour ring it loud so the whole floor hears it and then force you to make some sort of embarrassing admission.  I volunteered and loudly admitted that I had never actually purchased anything from Zappos.com.  That brought out the boo-birds until I added "YET!" to the end of the comment!

Let's pause for a second right here.

How interesting is this from a marketing stand point?

I have never purchased anything from Zappos.com, not a single thing.  But they were giving me free drinks, free food, free transportation and free books (at the end of the tour).  How many companies would dare offer this level of service to a "non-customer"?

In return, here I am writing about the amazing service and experience they provided ... which is probably the best form of marketing they could ask for.

Smart, very smart.

What's cool about this company is that the executives sit together with everyone else ... in cubicles.

Tony, the CEO, wasn't there but the CFO was....as I walked by I snapped this picture of him at his desk:

Oh, and by the way, the entire office is decorated in various "themes".  Each service group has it's own ... we saw cow bells, heard theme music from the movie Rocky and even danced to a neon disco light.

Personally, I like the HR section the best, they had this sign handing in front of their area:

Here a couple other pictures to give you an idea of just how far they take the idea that their workplace should fit the lifestyle of the people who work there.  The first is a quick pic of a Tiki bar that was setup and seemed like it was actually used regularly and the second is a pic of one of their meeting rooms.  No board room tables in the rooms and each room had its own custom theme.

Check this out, they're so open with everything that they let me take a picture of their real Month-to-Date Sales figures.   Look at the target for June, $110,000,000 (it's written in the top right corner).  This company was on the verge of bankruptcy several times about eight or nine years ago ... and now their target is over $100 Million in sales for one month.  Not bad.

One of their mottos is making everyone feel like a VIP, so before you finish the tour they sit you down in their throne, put on a crown and take your picture.  Seriously, they're crazy, but everyone did it...even the Fortune 500 looking corporate types on the tour.

It turned out the our tour guide, Jon, is Canadian and he's a Leaf fan.  How awesome is that.  John handed each of us a copy of Tony's new book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose.  It's a good read, especially the first few chapters and the last few, very instructive for anyone into business building.   I dragged Ruben along on this tour ... and for the record, he didn't want to go but loved it by the end!  Here's a pic of Ruben and myself with John in the middle.

The Zappos bus then whipped us off to Mandalay Bay.  As we were pulling away I was completely impressed with how transparent the company is, they share everything openly with everyone.  I've never seen anything like it.  It seems like they're all living their "Rock Star Lives".

I was struck with something I learned from them.  The entire company operates with a set of "Core Values".  And unlike a typical "mission statement" that is printed on a plaque somewhere, Zappos.com is actually LIVING their core values.  How amazing.

It's giving us all something to learn from.  Rock Star Real Estate Inc. has been forever altered becasue of this run-in with the Zappos.com family.

Here's their ten core values and a video explaining them:

After meeting Georges St. Pierre and visiting Zappos.com I was pretty much ready to go home by the time we arrived at Mandalay Bay!

We walked the strip and as we arrived at the Encore hotel we found the spot where Steve Wynn recently ripped down the $10 Million dollar new entrance to his new Encore hotel.

Why?

So that his guests wouldn't have to see the unfinished development across the street.  We assume the developers when bankrupt during this recession and left a vacant lot visible to all of Steve Wynn's guests.

So he ripped down the brand new hotel entrance and moved it to the other side of the building.

In it's place he built a $60 Million Dollar Beach Club.   We took a quick video so you could see exactly what we're talking about...

That's it for now.

And the next time you're in Vegas I would strongly suggest adding the Zappos.com tour to your agenda.  Highly recommended.

Until next time, Your Life! Your Terms!

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0 comments on “Vegas & Zappos.com - Business in the Front, Party in the Back!”

  1. Very cool article Tom and Nick!

    On our next trip to Vegas, we certainly will make it a priority to get to Zappos.com headquarters. They are one of my favourite companies and I haven't ordered from them yet either! But, I don't think they ship to Canada yet, do they?

    Thanks for the insight into Wynn's hotel entrance as well. Very interesting!

    Cheers

    1. Dave!! There's a Canadian site now, it has less inventory but they ship here. It's $10 shipping I believe. We'll see you in a few weeks.

      Tom.

  2. Great post! I'm hoping to visit them if I make it down for PubCon in the fall. The direct marketing poster is brilliant, both for it's simplicity and because it's up on the wall.

    1. You've gotta go Chris! And yeah, I was pretty impressed how open they were we everything....marketing, numbers, goals...total wow!

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