CES — the vast consumer electronics show in Las Vegas that’s going on this week — can be expensive. They’re full of dinner meetings, taxis, and pricey hotels. But billionaire Uber founder Travis Kalanick has a few techniques to do them on a budget — like staying at a cheap Econo Lodge instead of a casino on The Strip.
In 2008, before he founded Uber, Kalanick wrote a blog post titled, “The Ultimate Guide to Hacking CES”.
CES is notorious for its costly hotel prices — the whole city is sold out, basically — and long, winding taxi lines. In 2008, after six years running content delivery company Red Swoosh, Kalanick wrote how he worked half of his time at the company without a salary so had to find ways to save money.
“Necessity taught me the very fine art of bootstrapping,” Kalanick writes. “Blood, Sweat and RAMEN is what I like to call it. I was always thinking about how to make things ultra-cheap, hyper-efficient, while making a good story out of it…”
Kalanick divides his CES cost-cutting hacks into four categories: Taxis; Hotels; Traffic; and Parties. He’s got ways to deal with them all but his most surprising call to action is noting that people should stay at the Econo Lodge (a US hotel brand that’s even cheaper than Travellodge, for those of you in the UK). Kalanick also says “sneaking into panel sessions” makes the whole affair cheaper.
This is the Econo Lodge Musk mentions:
He says Las Vegas’ famous strip — where most people stay when at CES — will cost you $US300 a night. Probably more now. But Econo Lodge rooms, Kalanick explains, are around $US40 a night. Kalanick likes the fact the motel is close to the the convention centre and isn’t far from fast food joints. He advises stocking accommodation with muffins, juice, beef jerky, and Red Bull, too.
There’s also a porn shop across the road…
Unfortunately, the Econo Lodge in Las Vegas is no more. The hotel at 1150 South Las Vegas Blvd. is now “On The Vegas Boulevard Hotel” — but it still gives you an idea of where Kalanick stayed before he was famous.
On Tripadvisor, there’s one “excellent” review, but 9 “terrible” ones. It looks quite basic. The customer comments aren’t all bad — words like “reasonable” and “value for money” arise — but some of them are brutal. One German guest gets riled at the “outrageous woman at the front desk”. One person says it’s the “worst hotel I have ever come across”, another complains that their room was “full of bed bugs,” and a third person warns people to “stay away”.
And some people complain about the “environment”. Next door does look like it needs some work…
Judging by the state of the hotel he recommends, you might want to find somewhere outside the “sleazy part of town” neighbourhood, as one reviewer remarks.
In this post Business Insider originally cited Elon Musk as the author of Red Swoosh. This was an error that was amended on the same day.