by Cynthia Towers

By the time this reaches you, most of the room reservations will have been made, you have probably completed your pre-registration form, have viewed the program offerings online and may have even begun to think about what to pack. Well, here are a few reminders before you head out the door to the airport, train or bus station.

Reminder Number One: Make your luggage easy to identify. Tie a brightly colored wide ribbon or piece of cloth around the handle; consider taking a neon or other brightly colored pen and having your initials written large on your pieces; take essentials like medication with you on the plane in case your luggage is lost or delayed; and be sure the luggage tag is easy to identify. If the volunteer, airport assistant or anyone else helping you has to check all of the luggage coming off the carousel, it will take quite some time. This is where patience will come into play, because after you get your luggage you may have to wait in a long line for a cab or shuttle. Shuttles cost less -- $5 one way -- but will stop at other hotels before arriving at the Riviera. Cabs cost more -- $15 one way but give door-to- door service.

Reminder Two: Carry a lot of one- and five-dollar bills with you. They come in handy for tipping. I will talk more about this later. I usually fold two or three together and put them in a place where they can be reached easily and quickly.

Reminder Three: Instruct the cab driver to take you to the Riviera South Entrance. This is the closest entrance to the front desk. Upon check- in you should receive a hotel description and a key with a sticker on the end. This will indicate where to place your thumb. The opposite end goes into your room door to unlock it.

Reminder Four: Las Vegas is extremely hot in the summer. Temperatures can climb as high as 120 degrees. However, inside the hotel the temperature is regulated by air conditioning. You may even find it necessary to carry a light jacket for indoors and for going out at night.

Reminder Five: If you want or require a refrigerator in your sleeping room, then you need to know that you may be placed in one of the other three towers. The majority of the conventioneers will be in the Monte Carlo or the Monaco, where a limited amount of refrigerators are located. Mediterranean North, Mediterranean South and the San Remo towers have refrigerators in them, that's the good news. The bad news is that they are further from the meeting rooms and it may be more difficult to navigate to and from where you want and need to go. Also, should you be placed in a tower that you do not want, ask to be put on a waiting list for the tower that you desire.

Reminder Six: Tipping -- Remember that tipping is discretionary. If you do not think tipping is necessary in a particular circumstance, then don't tip. This is a guide for people who are planning to tip and want to know the appropriate amount. At the airport -- porter or skycap -- $2 per bag or more if the bags are heavy; electric cart -- $2 per person; wheelchair -- if it is from the ticket counter to the gate/plane or from the gate/plane to the luggage carousel, then $5 is appropriate. Transportation: taxi, limo, paid shuttle, or van driver - 15 percent of the total fare; up to 20 percent if the driver helps with the bags or makes extra stops. No less than $1. At the hotel: doorman -- if he hails you a cab, $1-2; bellman -- when he helps you with your bags, tip $1-2 per bag; concierge -- $5-10 for help with hard-to-get dinner reservations or theater tickets. Room service -- if gratuity is included, add nothing or $1. Otherwise add 15-20 percent to the total charge. For maid service -- $1-3 per day. You may want to tip daily because there might be a different maid each day. Leave the tip on your pillow. Err on the side of being generous, and tip on the last day also.

Restaurants report a percentage (around 12 percent) of the gross sales for food and beverage to the IRS for their staff. This means that if you have a $200 food bill and $200 wine bill, the restaurant will report 12 percent of $400 or $48 as income to the server. In other words, the server has to pay tax on it whether you tip it or not. If the restaurants do not report it accurately, the IRS audits the restaurant and the wait staff. With a buffet tip nothing unless there is some service. Tip 10 percent if the server delivers all or part of your meal or keeps your drinks refilled.

Before we talk about casino tipping, let's discuss a budget. Before you go to a casino, you should determine how much you are willing to lose before you call it quits. Gambling is fine for entertainment, but it is not a good means of wealth accumulation. If the odds weren't in the house's favor, casinos would not make as much money as they do. Casino workers are a part of the service industry and make 2/3 of their income from tips. One general rule for tipping at a table is that you tip when you are winning, not losing.

* Craps or blackjack dealer -- $5+ chip per session.

* Poker dealers -- $5+ chip per session. You may tip 10 percent of your winnings, but not to exceed $25.

* Roulette dealers -- $5+ chip per session.

* Keno writers/runners -- $1+ for first ticket. If you play a lot, tip more. 5 percent if you win.

* Drinks waiter -- $1+ chip per drink. Remember that you are getting free drinks because alcohol lowers your inhibitions and you will gamble more.

* Slot machine changers -- tip $1+ chip per change, plus 5 percent on a jackpot, not to exceed $25.

* Slot machine attendants -- $1-2+ chip when they repair your machine.

One final reminder -- Be sure to attend one of the First Timers sessions on either Saturday, July 2 or Sunday, July 3 in the afternoon if this is your first time to an ACB convention, or if it's been a while since you attended. I am so excited to see all of you! Once again I would like to thank Carol Ewing and the Nevada Council of the Blind for hosting this year's extravaganza and to the entire convention coordinating committee for the work the members have done over the past year and for the countless hours they will put in during convention week to ensure you that have the greatest experience possible. If you need to contact me, you may do so by e- mailing [email protected] or by calling (206) 729-9654 or 1-800-474-3029 and hit the 0 twice for extension 00. Las Vegas is the place!!

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