Attending VMworld this year? If so, here are a few handy tips and hints that may make your trip to VMworld a little easier. Of course this is far from a complete list so please feel free to leave a comment to the bottom of this post with any of your own tips that you think may be useful to others. I’ll then add them to the master list.
1. Beat the Queue:
When leaving the plane, don’t dawdle. Walk quickly past as many of your fellow passengers as is possible between the plane and the border security/passport control area. This can potentially save you a lot of time waiting to be processed by the border security officer. The US in particular are quite thorough (and rightly so), so quite a sizable queue can form for non-US citizens, especially if they are trying to process more than one flight.
2. Pack for Luggage No-Show:
It always pays to have a spare pair of underwear and any other “must have” essentials packed into your hand luggage, just in case your main hold luggage gets lost in transit. Think to yourself “what would I really miss not having if my suitcase didn’t turn up for 24 hours”. Of course some of you may like walking around in dirty underwear for a few days, though your fellow attendees may not feel the same way.
3. Business/Blogger Cards:
Whether you work for yourself or someone else, don’t forget to pack enough business cards. Events such as VMworld are an excellent opportunity to network and make new vGeek friends. Don’t caught short as people will almost inevitably lose the small scrap of paper you end up writing your contact details on, also this never looks very professional.
4. San Francisco Shuttle Bus (VMworld US only):
If you are staying in central San Francisco and want to avoid a hefty taxi fare, you may want to consider taking one of the shuttle busses. Although some hotels put on a free shuttle bus, some of the more central hotels do not. It usually costs me about US$17-$20 to get to my hotel from the airport. You share the shuttle bus with others who are also dropped off on route. Depending on what terminal you arrive at there may be a slight wait whilst your shuttle driver visits the other terminals picking up people. After leaving the main airport building follow the signs for the ‘Hotel Shuttles’ and then look for the non-hotel branded shuttle mini-busses. There will be a shuttle coordinator representative at each terminal by the shuttles, so if you’re not sure just ask them.
This is a classic, though worth mentioning. Don’t forget to pack a multi-plug as you will inevitably need one of these if flying in from another country. I find the all-in-one multi-plugs the best and usually pack more than one for laptop, gadgets and gizmos.
6. Make Space:
If flying in don’t arrive with your luggage allowance already maxed out. Inevitably you will pick up some conference swag on the way, along with yet another conference bag. Even if you don’t, for some inexplicable reason your bag will generally always be heavier on the way home.
7. Sensible Clothing:
Pack clothing that is most appropriate for the location of the VMworld event. For San Francisco for example, although it can be nice and warm during the day the evenings can get very chilly, even in summer. Also, factor in you will be in air conditioning for most of the day which can also make things a little cold.
8. Comfortable Shoes:
Us vGeeks aren’t used to standing up for long periods of time. Our day normally consists of sitting on our butt all day in front of a screen, so make sure you pack a pair of smart, though very comfortable shoes. You will also likely want to investigate the VMworld host city as well, so sensible comfortable shoes for this is also a must-have.
9. Check the Weather:
Before heading away to VMworld always check the 5 day weather forecast for the host city. This will also influence the types of clothing and/or coats you should be packing.
10. Social Media:
During IT conferences, using social media mediums such as Twitter are a great way of finding out what is happening outside of the core conference hours. There is usually plenty going on from impromptu Tweetups through to more organised events. So get yourself a Twitter logon to start with and follow the conference Twitter hashtag, usually #VMworld.
11. Data Tariffs:
If visiting a foreign country, check the overseas data tariffs on your phone and other smart devices. These usually aren’t cheap, for example; In the US on T-Moble I used to get charged UK£7.50 per MB, though I am now with 3 Network and they offer a £5 per day flat rate deal. It may pay to turn data roaming off and utilising free Wi-Fi at your hotel and the event. Which leads me onto…
Work on the assumption that the conference Wi-Fi is going to be rubbish. I’ve yet to attend a conference where the Wi-Fi is useable after the first hour of the doors opening. It would pay to find out what cafes near the conference or your hotel offer free Wi-Fi ahead of time, so you can jack yourself into internet from time to time. Chances are your hotel will offer Wi-Fi though depending on the hotel chain this can be costly. San Francisco for example is a highly Wi-Fi enabled city so you shouldn’t have too many problems finding some free Wi-Fi.
If flying in from overseas it is a good idea to get some of the local currency before arriving into the country. This reduces the risk of you being stranded at the airport after arriving and finding that your ATM cards don’t work at the airport or that the airport has one ATM machine and that isn’t working. At least get enough for a taxi/shuttle ride from the airport to your hotel.
Anyway, here are a few items to kick things off. Why not leave a comment below and have your VMworld useful tip or hint added to the list. If I get a few and people find this useful I will create a dedicated page for it, and of course I will fully credit you as it being your tip/hint. If you are attending VMworld, have fun, enjoy and don’t forget to get our there and meet your fellow vGeeks.