Convention Survival Tips
The Skillastics® Team has been to over 100 National Conventions in the past 20 years. We have some practical tips to share with you about how to get the most enjoyment, learning and connection out of those long days!
- Don’t be a flipper. You’ve seen them. Maybe you are one. The attendee who is constantly flipping through the program and realizing only too late that they missed the one session they wanted to go too. Review the entire program BEFORE you get to the conference. Create your own calendar and schedule. Set it up by day with the times and location of the specific sessions you will go to, who you want to see in the exhibit hall and which socials and meetings you want to attend. Download your schedule to your phone – you won’t have to carry the big convention book around.
- So many raffles, so little time! Print up a sheet or two of labels with your name, school, title, mailing address, email and phone number. Have them handy to hand out for mailing lists, raffles and for order forms. You’ll be glad you did.
- If you are the convention with colleagues, split up to go to the sessions. It’s always fun to stay together but you get more “bang for your buck” if you go to different sessions.
- If you are in a session and it’s now what you expected, it’s ok to leave and go to another one. Sometimes the descriptions and the actual session are not what you anticipate. You need to benefit from each session you attend.
- When you are in the exhibit area, if there is a vendor you want to go back and visit, take time to write down the information for where they are located-normally there are signs for each isle. By doing this you will save time because you know where to go!
- If you can’t make a purchase at the convention but find equipment that you think will be approved, ask the vendor how long the convention rate will be honored.
- Leave some room in your suitcase for the return trip! Or, there normally is a place at the convention center or close by where you can ship things back if needed.
- But I can’t connect! Be prepared for difficulty connecting to the internet. Check in advance if the hotel has free wi-fi. And be prepared for access at the convention center to be limited or expensive. Research the nearest Starbucks!
- Take care of the dogs! We’ve all heard the expression, “My dogs are barking.”
- Conferences require a lot of walking. Frequently on concrete floors. Be sure to wear shoes that are comfortable and that will serve you well for 8-10 hours per day. And will allow to jump, run and play during the active sessions and demo’s.
- Get the attention you deserve!
- Have a specific vendor you want to talk too? Call in advance and set up an appointment. And if you don’t get around to doing that, block out a couple times when sessions are happening but you go to the exhibit hall. Vendors have down time when everyone else is in the sessions and so that is when you get the best service, can ask lot’s of questions and will build a relationship with your vendor.
- Take a rest. Schedule 20 minutes each day where you will go to your room orsit in a park and recharge your batteries.
- Fuel! The air in convention centers is dry. And bottled water isn’t cheap.
- Bring a stainless steel bottle and keep it full. Drink often. Avoid pastry and high carb foods. Pack some high-energy foods like almonds, bananas or protein bars. Eat before you are hungry and drooling at the pizza stand. Your blood sugar will thank you.