You can attend Evaluation 2003 on a small budget and have a wonderful experience. Here are ways of saving money on your conference experience. We'll be adding more as the conference draws closer.
Getting There: If arriving by air, will want to fly in to the Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO - http://www.renoairport.com/). Comparison check among the carriers serving the airport (Alaska, American West, American, Continental, Delta, Frontier, Northwest, Southwest, and United). Southwest is a discount airline that flies the most flights in and out of Reno and AEA has a contract with Southwest to allow conference attendees 10% off their fares. Southwest is not listed on most major travel search engines such as Expedia or Travelocity. If your airport is served by Southwest, you – or your travel agent – may call Southwest’s Group and Meeting Reservations line at (800) 433-5368 and provide the service agent with ID Code P-0174 to check on the discounted fares. The Group and Meetings Reservation line is open to serve you Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm and Saturday from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm Central Standard Time. To check on southwest schedules, go to http://www.southwest.com/ - but note that you cannot receive the discount when booking online.
From the Airport to the Hotel: The hotel has a free shuttle from the airport. The shuttle pickup area is outside baggage claim and the shuttle picks up at the airport at quarter-of and quarter-past the hour from 5:45 am to 9:15 pm.
Insider tip: If you arrive before 5:45 or after 9:15, call the hotel at 800-648-1177 and ask for security. They will usually send someone to pick you up.
Getting Around: Public transit is available to the downtown and main casino strip immediately outside the Nugget. It runs every 15 minutes during the day and every half hour after 7:00 pm. The cost is $1.50 each way or $4.00 for a full day pass. Click here for a full schedule or to access more extensive route information.
Accommodations: At $99, the convention rate for the Nugget is the least expensive we have had at the headquarters hotel in recent history. However, if you are a student, you can secure a $49 rate at the Nugget's Courtyard by volunteering. More information about volunteering is available on the student pages and you can sign up to volunteer beginning July 1.
Food: There are eight restaurants in the hotel and some offer great affordable options. Consider going to the Noodle Hut, located outside of Trader Dick's, for a lunch (it disappears at dinner time) in a bowl under $6 - choose from such options as pad thai, pho, or good old spaghetti and meatballs. Or, go downstairs to the basement to Gabe's Pub and Deli for affordable sandwiches and salads. For breakfast, you may want to consider the little cafe outside Orozko's for bagels or a bakery item.
Outside of the hotel, but within easy walking distance, you have at least three good, affordable, options. Go through the casino and out the back door towards Victorian Square. You will see the Silver Club Casino. Inside the Silver Club is a cheap buffet. For something a little more interesting, go the right of the silver club and you will find the Great Basin Brewing Company and Cantina los tres Hombres. The Brewing Company has good microbrews and a fun atmosphere and a burger, fish and chips, portabello quesadilla (very good), or gourmet pizza for one will run you $7-$9. At the Cantina, most Mexican combination plates run $8-$10.
Insider tip: If you are playing in the casino, a hostess will come by to take your drink order - they are free! (But please tip the hostess, $1 per drink is standard.) Don't sit down at the bars in the casino, rather sit at the machines themselves. The Nugget is known for having a very generous complimentary drink policy. In the morning, if you are at the slot machines, they will often come around with coffee and donuts.
Registration: Register for the conference before October 1 and you can save from $10 (for students) to $40 (for all other registrants) over the regular conference registration fee. Local students may also sign up to volunteer at the conference and receive a waived conference registration. Information about volunteering is on the student section of the website.
Entertainment: There is free cabaret entertainment each evening in the Nugget's casino cabaret. In the very nice sitting area outside Orozko's there is often an excellent flamenco guitarist to be enjoyed for the price of a drink. Most nights, live music or a DJ and dancing can be enjoyed at Trader Dick's where you could always have a full meal or great munchies - or stick to your budget and enjoy a soda and the entertainment. Since there is no cover charge at the Casinos, you can always go downtown and walk the main casino strip and go casino hopping. One of the more unique gimmicks is the free circus acts to be found at the Circus Circus casino.
Gaming: Gaming is the casino's name for gambling - slot machines, poker, keno, and the like. Do you want to have the casino experience, and a little gaming fun, but keep within a budget? For the true penny-pincher, try the penny slots. Yes, there are regular slot machines that allow for play for a penny. Take a tour of the gaming floor to find them, or ask any of the floor staff to point the way. If you are slightly more adventurous, you may want to try video poker and, if you do so, you should search out the "full pay" machines. What is a "full pay" machine? When paying Jacks-or-Better Poker, it will pay out 9 coins for a full house, 6 for a flush, and 2 for two pair. The pay schedules are posted on the front of every machine and machines sitting right beside each other may not have the same payout. Click here to access an article that talks about full pay machines.
Insider Tip: There are not a lot of full pay video poker machines in any casino. One bank of them at the Nugget may be found by starting at John's Oyster bar and following the outside wall, along the windows, checking as you go. The set of them is about the fourth bank of machines as you move along the wall.
Please feel free to contact the AEA office at email@example.com or (888) 232-2275 or (508) 748-3326 if you have any questions or suggestions for other ways to enjoy the conference on a shoestring!