NMX 2013 Conference tips
This year two major conferences are happening back to back in Las Vegas - the New Media Expo (also known as NMX, or the conference formerly known as Blog World) and the 2013 International Consumer Electronics show (CES).
NMX is from the 6th to the 8th at the Rio All Suite hotel, about a mile off the strip, and CES will be held in several hotels from the 8th to the 10th.
Having been to the last Vegas incarnation of NMX, these are my tips for a smooth ride. Some of these apply to CES too.
If you’re going, please drop me a line in the comments so we can catch a meal together.
Have a backup plan for wifi
The Rio Las Vegas charges $13.95 per room for wifi. For $22.95 you can have that access extended anywhere you are in the hotel. I have to admit, that even after several trips to Vegas, the Strip hotel attitudes toward wifi still shock me, so I verified this by phone today.
Just remember, the philosophy of Vegas is that anything that distracts you from the casino floor, or doesn’t make the hotel money, will have a surcharge. So if you have your own wireless hotspot, or a 3g/4g enabled tablet, it’s probably a good idea to bring it with you.
Onsite Wifi generally sucks in Vegas Strip hotels even if you pay for it, so plan ahead.
The front desk didn’t have information about the meeting rooms, though if the conferences I’ve previously been to are any indication, there will be wireless access that is adequate for tweeting or blogging, but not video.
Update: see comments – the community manager at NMX Live confirms that the conference area will have wifi.
The Starbucks in the Rio, however, has free wifi.
Create your schedule now
You think you’ll have time when you get there. But even if you do, people you know or meet will want that time for breakfast, lunch, meetings, or partying. So go to the site, and create your schedule now. Your only excuse not to is if you have a virtual pass.
(You can’t meet speakers or network via video streaming though – traveling all the way out there and not even going to the Expo is lame, dude.)
Stay charged up
It sounds obvious, to keep all your devices charged. But outlet provisions vary from hotel to hotel, and Vegas hotels change from year to year.
I’ve found the best situation is to either
- have two devices that can run off the same extra external battery, and to both of them, and the battery before you go,
- bring three devices and use them in succession, in descending order of how long a charge will last, or
- if you’re staying in the hotel, always leave one device charging in your room at all times as a back up so you can run up between sessions and switch when you find yourself running low on juice.
Take Advantage of Photo Ops – Create Them if You Must
How many times have you gotten home from a conference or meetup, gotten home and thought of that really cool person you met, but have no idea which card they match up to?
Or try to reacquaint yourself with someone who just can’t remember you from two years ago?
Now, how many times do you forget a person you were in a picture or video with? Far less often, right? Always ask “can I get a picture with you?” And see if you can get them to hold up some identifying information or keep their badge in the picture.
Get their Twitter information and tweet the photo right away. You’ll be far less likely to lose touch.
Plan your route
Once you have your schedule, compare it to the map of the Rio’s meeting facilities [pdf] – this map is NOT on the Rio website, but you can find it on the Ceasar’s Meeting facilities site. The faster the general idea of the floor plan snaps into place in your mind, the easier it will be to get around.
It’ll also help you plan where you’re going to meet people before or after sessions.
Plan Ahead for Networking
Build time for networking into your schedule.
I learned much more than I expected at my first Blog World conference. I learned much more from having conversations with people on the panel afterwards, as well as from fellow conference attendees.
Plan a specific date and time to meet. because “maybe we’ll get together” will quickly turn into “I’m sorry I missed you.” Try to arrange it around a meal. Everyone has to eat. And if you don’t hit it off, you can just eat your way through the awkward silences or hum along to the muzak.
If you don’t know anyone going to NMX Live, try looking up Facebook or Twitter contacts you have in common. You can also browse and like profiles of people you’d like to meet, once you’ve created your schedule.
If you make the first meet a breakfast or lunch date with a group, you can get to know people enough to decide who you’d like to hang around more with later.
Have friends that you know are going? Find out where everyone is staying and how clustered you are if you’re in different hotels. It’ll be easier to choose places to eat or meet if you know how everyone is situated in relation to the hotel or the Strip. You may also be able to consolidate rides or coordinate shuttle runs.
Miscellaneous Conference/Vegas Related Tips
After hours, you can take a shuttle to the Strip, transfer to the bus route known as The Deuce, and try many of the $5- $10 all-you-can-eat buffets.
Liveblogging on an iPad? Set up your embeds before if you can, or bring your keyboard. You’d think it would be easy to copy and paste the embed code from the mobile version of sites like Storify or Slideshare.
You would be wrong.
Pack light the day the Expo starts, even if you’re staying in the hotel. If you’re staying in the hotel, I’d take a shorter lunch, plan a trip right after lunch, take your loot to your room, and come back for whatever afternoon session you’re not willing to sacrifice.
Blog or tweet about vendors you’re interested in immediately because you WILL forget.
The Twitter hashtag for the entire conference is #NMX – but some individual ones may have their own.
Pick up your badge as early as you can or at an off-peak time to avoid the lines. If you have to be on the line, get a buddy. A live person is much more interesting than whatever is happening on your phone, and less likely to bore you – you already know you have shared interests.
Want to drink free? Go down to the casino, or head across the street to the Palms and gamble with the 20s crowd, or head for the Strip, and they’ll bring you free drinks til you stop. (If you plan on drinking a lot, head to the slots, but you’re also gambling on weaker drinks.)
But before you do, check the official NMX site for parties, and give the hashtag a quick glance too. Don’t forget to try out the VooDoo lounge, especially if you’re over 25.
More of the social aspects of business travel to Vegas, I’ll cover in the next post.