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Conference Travel Made Easy
Conferences can create some of the most amazing opportunities for individuals and businesses alike. A gathering of the most important and innovative people in any field, on such a large scale, is a breeding ground for great ideas and important relationships to grow and develop. The abundance of networking opportunities and information being shared is almost priceless. However, it can be difficult to remember how important these conferences are when you’re dealing with all the hassles of travel. Lost luggage, flight delays, expensive hotels, exhaustion, transportation troubles -it can be a headache; but below are a few tips that can help smooth the process along and make your conference experience less stressful, and more enjoyable and effective.
Book in a Private Browser
Purchasing airfare and hotel accommodations is a tricky process. It isn’t proven that travel and airline sites actually hike up prices dependent upon your location, but it is helpful to know that when using a private browser you don’t have to worry about any discrepancy.
Utilize your smartphone when finding transportation
Contrary to popular belief, our smartphones are good for more than candy crushing games and angry birds. Especially in the way of transportation; rental cars can be very expensive, and needlessly so -what with services like Uber and Lyft, you don’t need to rent a car if you’re in a city that allows these types of ride-sharing services to function freely. So do your research before the trip and use your smartphone wisely.
Network before you network, with social media
When you register for a big industry conference, share your whereabouts with your social networks. If you have friends in the business, or associates that might be interested, it could get you a conference buddy. Sharing a conference experience with a friend or colleague is always a nice way to take in the, sometimes grueling, days of presentations and networking luncheons. Also, if your conference is social network savvy, take note of the hashtag they have used. Use and search this hashtags to find new ways to network and share your conference experience.
Be Prepared for Lost Luggage
We’ve mentioned before that travel comes with hassle at times. Lost luggage is a pretty common happening, and a scary one at that. So, come prepared and bring a full day’s outfit in your carry on luggage. This way, you have professional wear to start your conference experience in while you hunt down your bag. It also helps to use layered clothing to make up this outfit, this way you can mix and match pieces to make your outfit stretch longer, if need be.
Upgrade Your Stay
Hotels are very committed to getting you the most positive experience available. They want the good reviews just as much as you want a good night’s sleep. So, something that avid business travelers know is that more often than one would think, upgrades are available -for free! All you have to do is ask your hotel’s front desk if there are any upgrades available, or any empty rooms. These people want to make you happy, so if there does happen to be something available, they will get it to you. Drop your conference’s name as well, if it’s a big event, the hotel will be extra motivated to make your stay special.
Make Reservations in Advance
For many of these big conferences, finding a place to eat a good meal after a long day of presentations can sometimes be quite difficult. Before your trip do some research about the best restaurants in and around the conference venue, if you get a reservation for more than your party you can invite those new friends you made during your morning session and spark a new connection. Good food, new people, and new opportunities, all in one night.
Ibuprofen is your friend
It cannot be stressed enough just how exhausting these conferences can be. They are often all day affairs with social meetings in the evenings. And while it is amazing to start new relationships and make new connections, as well as learn about the cutting edge of your industry -it’s exhausting. So bringing along a little ibuprofen for yourself will be a lifesaver, and just the ticket to get you from your afternoon session to that networking dinner without being miserable.
Full day briefcase
As has been stated, conference sessions are an 8am to 8pm affair often, so when you pack your briefcase for the day -be sure to pack it for the entire day. This way you don’t waste time going back and forth from your room or hotel, wasting valuable networking or resting time. Also, as we all are using our smartphones, laptops, tablets and plenty of other multimedia during these conferences a hot tip is to bring a whole power strip in that day pack. Not only will it ensure that you will always be able to charge up your smartphone or device, but you will also be a hero to the people patiently waiting for the next outlet to open up -more connections, more opportunity.
Prepare an Auto-Reply while you’re away from your e-mail
While everyone at a conference to grow their business or network, and learn more about themselves there is a world outside of this immersive week or weekend that is still ticking and working. This means your associates will still be trying to reach you while you’re toiling away in your sessions and networking dinners. Be prepared for this and create an “away” auto-reply that lets your associates know that you are off bettering yourself, and you’ll return their emails just as soon as you have the chance.
Know how to market yourself
While networking isn’t outwardly a competition, there are a lot of people to meet at conferences and because of the time constraint we must choose, selectively, with whom to spend this time. If you don’t knock the socks off the person you met at your power strip party within the first 5 minutes, they may just lose interest and go talk to someone else. Create a quick hits of what you do, and how you do it. This way people can get the gist of who you are while adhering to this conference time constraint.
Pre-plan your experience
As bad as many of us wish it could be so, conference coordinators do not plan your entire weekend for you. As a matter of fact, they often create so many sessions that planning your conference experience seems overwhelming when you walk through the doors. To prevent this overwhelming, and then scrambling feeling, do your research beforehand about the presentations and presenters you’re most interested in. Make yourself an itinerary based on those associates you met on your social network, who are also attending the event, or on social engagements going on throughout the day. Plan your conference experience however you see fit, but do so in advance so that you are not scrambling for seats at the last minute.
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