Last year Red Branch Media did some serious representing at the 2013 HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas. We collected about 587 business cards, walked a total of 97 miles and drank approximately 432 cups of wine coffee. We came, we saw, we conquered and we learned…boy, did we learn.
While Maren had attended the conference for years, for three of us, Jeremy (Web Dev Extraordinaire), Eric (Social Media Guru) and Courtney (Content Queen), it was our first time attending HR tech. We learned a few lessons the hard way, and we want to impart some of our knowledge on all of you HR Tech virgins. In true movie format (10 Things I hate About You Anyone?), the 10 things we hate (not really!) about HR Tech Conference…
1) There is no such thing as “free time” at HR Tech.
If you think (like we foolishly did) that you’ll squeeze in your daily work around sessions, lunch meetings, parties, walking the expo floor, supporting clients and making connections, you’re dead wrong. Make the most of your time at HR Tech by working ahead, and don’t forget to fill up your Sprout Social before you get on the plane so that you’re visible throughout the conference. Also schedule meetings with people, between prize drawings, mealtime, looooooooong Vegas walks and press briefings, you will not have time to “catch up at HR Tech!”
2) You either need comfortable shoes, or a Hover Round.
We are talking marathon training status here – you need comfortable clothes, good shoes are a must, and hydration is key. There is a lot of walking involved, even if you are fortunate enough to snag a room at the Mandalay Bay. Last year, we were literally contemplating contacting the front desk for a motorized scooter near the end. You will spend way too much money on sandals toward the end, so bring a pair from home and spend that money on bandages and Bengay.
3) The hashtag is your lifeline. Even when your friends try to ditch you!
#HRTechConf is going to be your go-to hashtag for the duration of the conference. Check it regularly for updates, highlights, contests, parties and, well everything! It’s the simplest way to socially connect and stay updated while you’re running around (in your ultra comfortable shoes, ‘cause we told you to). Foursquare was also really handy, but we’re guessing the new app Swarm is going to be ruining that ‘perfect way to crash a pool party you weren’t invited to’ this year.
4) Don’t plan on using the wifi.
Conference wifi is notoriously unreliable and in Vegas it’s even worse than that. Last year, while trolling the expo hall floor I went through a ton of data just trying to get images to upload and tweets to send. Be prepared. I would suggest taking a break from the floor to grab lunch and use some decent wifi elsewhere OR up your data plan proactively (usually costs less than going over). It’s also a sad fact that the expo floor is a terrible place to get even normal coverage, so don’t schedule business calls unless you can take them in your room (then set a reminder 15 minutes ahead of time to walk there).
With all the commotion, networking and after parties at night, you should be downing as much water as possible during the day. I absolutely hate carrying things but I will be walking around with a water bottle this year. I would suggest taking an Emergen-C in the morning to keep your immune system up! Vegas is super dry and so are the very big hotels in the casinos, so remember to keep refilling and only guzzle coffee in the AM, if you can.
6) Book your hotel early!
You don’t actually realize how far away other hotels are until you walk through two casinos four times a day. My suggestion is to book your hotel as soon as you know where the event is going to take place. That way you will have the luxury of getting 30 mins more sleep, fast breaks in your room, and a shorter walking distance to the expo hall and sessions. Of course, we still haven’t booked ours.
7) Plan your strategy before.
All of your marketing efforts should be planned out before you go to the conference. Break it down into social, content, advertising and in person opps ahead of time, down to the time you tweet. There is a lot going on during the day and you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity because you were too busy to connect on social media. We are fortunate enough to have our entire schedule drawn out for us during the conference too! This helps a lot so we don’t miss out on supporting our clients (who also have THEIR own schedules). This allows you to supplement without stressing and change direction on a dime. Once the basics are covered, you can relax and sell, sell, SELL!
8) Get a battery pack for your phone
The combination of a weak wifi signal (see point #4), the need to stay on top of the hashtag (see point #3) and the fact that work doesn’t stop while you’re there, means your phone battery will be working overtime. You’re there to network, see cool new stuff and takeaway priceless knowledge; not huddle by an outlet in the corner. And if you forget one, come see @Broadbean at Booth #1216, they’ll be able to help you out!
9) Pack workout clothes.
Will you actually fit in a workout? HA! No way (see point #1). But, hope springs eternal and at least you can say you tried. If you do manage to get a run in, you will look like a total rockstar to those just staggering home after an after-after-after-after party. Make sure you Instagram yourself looking radiant and peppy on the Strip #HRTechConf!
10) Get some sleep…
… after you get back home. Seriously, you won’t be sleeping much at the conference. Between the invaluable sessions, the mind-blowing expo hall and the after hours “networking” events, you’ve got to make the most of your time at the conference. It’s exhausting but it’s only once a year. You can do it! And if you need someone to commiserate with, just find us on the expo floor!
There you have it! We hope you found some of our advice helpful, and if you didn’t, you will…The Red Branch Media team can’t wait to see everyone there. Stay connected with us by following @RedBranch and we’ll follow you right back! See you guys soon!