No matter what major conference or industry event you’re attending this year, you need to plan for everything that goes along with the experience. That includes what you pack and how you schedule your time on the trip.
As we prepare for one of our biggest conferences of the year, Connections 2019, we wanted to share our top planning tips with you. Be sure to double-check No. 6—it’ll save a lot of headaches if you’re traveling with a large group.
1. Find a coffee shop nearby that is located near the conference campus.
You’ll save so much time going a little out of the way to get your morning coffee than standing in line with everyone else at the conference, especially if the event has a large footprint.
2. Buy a portable phone charger.
Invest in a charger that provides you up to two additional battery charges for your phone. Or scout out the expo hall for vendors giving them away. Conference days are long—approx. 12-16 hours—and you don’t want to be that person seeking an outlet for your wall charger.
3. Dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes.
It may be summer, but conferences are notoriously chilly inside. Bring a jacket or cardigan and wear shoes you can walk around in. Being uncomfortable makes for a less than pleasant conference experience.
4. Build your agenda of sessions you don’t want to miss ahead of time.
Start with the main conference schedule and note any sessions you absolutely want to be at. If the conference requires an RSVP for each session, go ahead and sign up for these top choices. Mark your back-up sessions too, so you can easily jump into one of those if your top choice isn’t what you expected, or the topic becomes more relevant to your business needs. Then consider any events or extra sessions not on the main schedule. Partners and vendors often invite conference attendees to join them off campus for enjoyable experiences as an added bonus to the main event.
5. Bring a bag that’s bigger than you think you’ll need.
Whether it’s a handbag or laptop bag—you’ll need it. Conferences are overflowing with swag items. You’ll likely pick up a few things at the expo hall, so you’ll want a bag big enough for those plus your laptop, water bottle, and snacks. It’s also a good idea to bring an umbrella. It’s better to be prepared than surprised.
When you hear something inspiring, you want to share it. Use Twitter for sharing it with your followers and friends to see what you’re learning about at the conference.
6. Set up a travel group chat.
If you’re traveling with colleagues, trying to coordinate meetups or dinner reservations can be hectic at conferences. Set up a Slack channel or use a group chat app like Groupme to easily communicate with your team. It’s also great to set a standard meeting location where everyone from the group can meet together before the start of each day or before heading to the evening activities.
7. Download the conference mobile app.
These apps are typically loaded with updated information for the event, including speaking sessions, parties, and a map of the conference layout. Some of the better mobile apps allow you to opt into SMS alerts to learn about extra opportunities available at the conference or schedule reminders to keep you from missing anything important.
8. Bring business cards.
Conferences are a great place to learn, but an even better place to meet new contacts. Oftentimes you can attend breakfast, lunch, and early evening networking events. Each time you sit down at a session, you’ll have the opportunity to grow your network—if you’re sitting in the middle seat, you could end up with eight new friends in the biz.
9. Line up early for keynotes.
You want a good seat to see headliners and this is no different. Keynote sessions will have a lot of attendees, so get there early and maybe wear a bright-colored hat for your group to easily find you.
10. Make an appointment with any partners you want to connect with.
Stop by the vendor and partner booths in the expo hall that you want to learn more about. Or, if you know who you’d like to meet with, schedule it ahead of time so you can plan around the sessions you want to attend and the evening events.
11. Tweet your thoughts.
When you hear something inspiring, you want to share it. Use Twitter for sharing it with your followers and friends to see what you’re learning about at the conference. Add the conference hashtag and connect with others virtually who are attending the same speaking sessions. Plus, this adds to your cred as a thought leader for your business and industry.
12. Use the hotel bag drop on the last day.
Check out of your hotel and use the bag drop so you don’t have to drag your suitcase around the conference. Then you simply pick it up on your way to the airport when it’s time to leave.
Bonus: Follow DEG on Twitter @DEGdigital as we reach out in the moment with content you won’t want to miss at conferences this year.
Put these tips to use at your next conference and let us know if you have any new tricks to add to this list.