By Paul Green, Sales Director : UK&I
This year will be the 5th time I’ve attended Magento Imagine in Las Vegas, and during that time I’ve gathered a number of tips and ideas from my experiences that I thought would be worth sharing with other attendees.
#1 : Don’t fly with me
It’s almost certain, that if there is a cancelled or delayed flight it will be the one I’m on. From technical issues to thunderstorms, I’ve normally got a story to tell. A number of people in my network now check my flight details before booking their flights, and some even fly from a different airport just to be sure….
#2 : From the airport to the strip
On arrival, fully expect to be queuing for a while to get through security. They’ve introduced automated passport control lanes, but the machines often go offline and you’re then left with the seemingly never moving queue to see the TSA agent. Don’t be tempted to turn on your phone while queuing, the TSA will call you out which will result in it taking even longer.
Once through security, baggage reclaim and exiting the airport is pretty simple and the taxi rank is directly outside the doors. If you’re travelling to the Wynn or any of the hotels at the North of the strip, tell the taxi driver to go via ‘Paradise’ as otherwise they’ll take you on the scenic route along the highway which takes longer, costs more and isn’t the best way to experience the landmarks.
#3 : You will walk…. a lot!
If you’ve not been to Vegas before, the Wynn, and many of the others on the strip are not hotels, they are resorts. The sheer size and scale of each takes a bit of adjusting to. You’ll soon get the idea of the walking involved after check in, making your way to the lifts with your luggage and finding your room.
Wear sensible shoes during your stay or you’ll regret it by the time you leave. You should allow a good 15/20 minutes to get from your hotel room to the relevant room in the conference space. When transitioning from one conference track to another, it could be up to 10 minutes dependant on where they are located.
#4 : My battery is running low
Invest in a power bank for your mobile phone before you go. There are some plugs in the conference area but with 3,000 attendees, good luck finding a spare one. It’s a long way to the room to charge your phone, plus the content you’re missing out on whilst you doing this. You’ll want to take pictures of the presentations, the venue and create memories, you’ll be adding contact details, looking up people on LinkedIn and noting down key takeaways and stats, plus the odd call or message to those back home no doubt. Also, don’t forget your adapter for the plugs if you’re from outside the US.
#5 : Wear your badge
You can collect your badge and conference materials from the registration desks in the conference area, which normally open on Sunday afternoon. You’ll need to wear it at all times to get access to the conference area, and also for the evening events.
Don’t be tempted to cover your name/company with a business card or the conference agenda in order to hide your identity. There are many ‘first time’ attendees at Imagine and a number who are the only representative from their company, who find it much easier to start conversations when they can see your first name and where you’re from.
#6 : Do your homework
The conference is packed with keynote sessions and breakout tracks, as well as 3,000 other attendees keen to share experiences. I’d highly recommend reviewing the conference agenda in advance and identifying your ‘must see’ sessions and plan around these. There are plenty of opportunities to visit the marketplace and catch up with your peers, but make sure you know when the important sessions to you are and work around these.
Also, a tip for Tuesday evening and the ‘Legendary Party’. The keynote on Tuesday evening which is typically a full house, is followed immediately by the main party of the conference. You may want to drop your bag/laptop off in your room before heading to the party, but you won’t be the only one with this idea. If you can, consider dropping your bag/laptop in your room during the afternoon break as a lot of the attendees will look to do the same after the keynote, and the queue for the lifts can take a while when everyone has the same idea.
#7 : PreImagine
If you’ve registered for the ‘Pre Imagine’ community event on Sunday night, this is a great opportunity to meet new people and share experiences and stories. Again, if you’ve collected your badge, wear it and remember that there will be many others who are newbies to Imagine or the sole representative of their company. I met people at Imagine 5 years ago for the first time, who have proved to be valuable connections in the following years.
#8 : Your return flight will be sooner than you think
Unless you’ve planned an extended stay in Las Vegas outside of the conference schedule, the time will fly and you’ll likely be returning home saying ‘I wish I’d……’. So if arriving on the Saturday as many attendees do, unless you’re looking for some peace and quiet, head down to the casino and bars as you’re bound to find a familiar face. There is so much to see and do you won’t be short of ideas. Take in a show, go for a walk done the strip, jump in a cab and take in the sights along the strip, or for those looking for something different, the zipwire ‘Slotzilla’ in downtown Las Vegas, or The Big Dam Run, an event run by the Magento community, takes place on the Sunday morning at the Hoover Dam.
#9 : Flying home
McCarran International is no London Heathrow or Gatwick. Check in and bag drop is quick, security is normally straight forward, and there is very little to do once clear of security (surprisingly there are very few shops/restaurants). In short, don’t head back to the airport too early, but a disclaimer, if you leave it too late I take no responsibility for this…
#10 : Once you’re back home
Share your experience and the knowledge you’ve gained with your colleagues. I find myself writing up a whole series of notes to share with our internal teams on the product roadmap, strategy and market insights. And don’t forget to connect with the people you met – they’re likely to be at another event in the future.
So, the countdown is on….
I’ve checked my passport, renewed my ESTA, got my tickets and my hotel booking. Made a note to pack my power bank, trainers and business cards. My #RoadtoImagine officially starts on the 21st April from London Gatwick. See you there!