It's often not what you know, but who you know, especially when you're looking for an inside tip or a hot deal when taking a trip to Las Vegas.
Thanks to David Mark, the newest self-proclaimed "Mr. Las Vegas," you can get your Sin City questions answered personally though the World Wide Web at Ask Mr. Vegas (www.askmrvegas.com). The site has been in soft-launch mode for several months as Mark collects reams of information, much of it the old-fashioned way. He beat the pavement for a firsthand take on what interests people.
"I rode the Deuce bus from 8 a.m. to almost 1 a.m., and sat on the second level," he said. "I would introduce myself to riders and carried a recorder and had people ask me questions. Riders started gathering around me and the bus driver had to tell people to sit down four times.
"I got questions you would've heard 20 years ago. 'Where can I get a 99-cent shrimp cocktail?' 'Will the half-pound hot dog kill you?' 'What's that?' 'Who is going to build there?' 'What happened to this, or that?' " Mark said.
He decided to craft his Web site as an extension of the personal tour guide experience he had on the bus route that traverses Las Vegas Boulevard from downtown to the south end of the Strip.
"I got the idea from 'You Asked For It.' (A 1950s TV show hosted by Art Baker and later Jack Smith. Viewers would submit requests for things they'd like to see on TV.) We're really going to give you an answer. I can't compete with Vegas.com," he said, "But I can get content. People can submit questions online and someone will answer each one with an individual response and a posting on the blog," he said.
Mark plans to add video clips and podcast downloads. He recently bought a harness that holds a video camera, making it easy to shoot video of himself while "playing tourist" doing his research.
"I took off my locals hat and put on my tourist hat and tried to shut off what I knew," Mark said. "I'm going to put my video camera on my car and act as if I were in a rental car and videotape some of the entrances to the hotels. I looked at addresses and then tried to figure out how to get into them. When you got into a driveway, even understanding which way the cabs go and which way the limos go and which way you go is not always easy," Mark said.
The site carries an acknowledgement of the original Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton. It says, in part: "We love Wayne, but we don't have any connection to him. We really like his cool horses, though."
Mark has daily offers from a growing list of advertisers, saying he's confident the site will attract more business.
"The emphasis now is to get people to ask questions," he said. "The big deal is what we're going to do with the site. As long as they (readers) don't ask me to bungee jump, I'll do it."
Share your Internet story with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.