Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Day After

My flight landed at the BWI airport around 11:20 last night and this morning I am debating whether to continue writing this very sentence or to jump back into bed for at least 20 more minutes of shut eye.

Friends, this could be a very short post.

After every big conference I attend, I like to sit and go through a digital brain dump, whereby I look at all my notes from the conference - all the business cards I've collected - and try to save it all in some kind of meaningful way that will help me or someone else in the future. Reason being, my mind starts letting go of the context for my notes very quickly after writing them.

Here is a random Top 10 List of things I learned during this recent trip to the OSA Frontiers in Optics Annual Meeting in San Jose, California:

1. Fly Virgin every time you can when flying to the West Coast. I was able to comfortably work away online with my very own outlet under my seat powering up my laptop and cell phone during the entire flight. The wifi worked great and my seat was super comfortable. The ability to work during the long flight from DC to California was fantastic! Plus, the food you can order at your seat is the best airplane food I've eaten so far.

2. Always make sure you have the appropriate adapter for the LCD projector when using a Mac laptop. I ended up locating mine in the bottom of my laptop bag, but I panicked for a little bit.

3. The official Twitter hashtag for a conference is a necessity for organizing large groups of people for social events (or any other events) on the fly.  Make things easy for conference attendees by having large monitors displaying the hashtag feed in appealing way (using Twitterfall or Visible Tweets) so that even the Luddites in the crowd can be informed of the latest conversation about the conference.

4. Free drink tickets make you everybody's friend. :)

5. Attendees are expecting wifi to be available everywhere. They will miss it if you don't have it.

6. Protein bars and Starbucks Via instant coffee: Must-haves for the conference suitcase!

7. Use the Bump application if you have an iPhone. Anyone who has an iPhone can easily transfer contact information with another iPhone user just by using this free application. So much easier than trying to hold on to business cards all evening long. I wish they had this available across all smart phones and with an easy way to organize new contacts by tagging, but maybe in a couple years...

8. Conference organizers: Have a few free registrations that you give out to members who agree to blog about the conference daily. You will not be sorry. These bloggers will not only help archive the member-experience for your conference, but will also add to the overall buzz. At this conference, bloggers had identifying ribbons and the association promoted the blogs before and during the conference. This should be something you offer for every conference - the promotion pays for the registration.

9. Looking for a good giveaway idea? Multi USB ports. Thumb drives. Laser pointers. And yes, hand sanitizer. These things stick around and people love them.

10. Idea: Have a "photobooth" kiosk in which people can either add their comments about the conference and have it automatically tagged with your hashtag and added to the Twitter stream displayed on your Twitter monitors, and/or record a short 2 minute video with their thoughts about the conference that is posted to the conference's official broadcasting site. I haven't seen this done yet, but it would be amazing to have on site and is totally doable.

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