Over the next few days, I’ll be blogging about things I learned from FinCon12 sessions and speakers for the various sites I am involved with. This post, though, is about the logistical things I learned while planning for and attending FinCon12.
Everything we do can be used as a learning experience. Whether we make mistakes and learn to improve, or whether we do something right and incorporate that into our lives, it’s always good to look for positive takeaways. Here are some of the things I learned from planning my experience at the Financial Blogger Conference.
Southwest Airlines is Awesome.
No, I am not being paid to say that I had already started using Southwest a little bit more for the reasonably priced airfare, and for the fact that you can check up to two bags for free. However, I really took the Southwest love up a notch after planning my trip to Denver.
Originally, I planned to fly in on Friday. However, I joined the planning committee for the Plutus Awards, and things changed. I needed to get in on Thursday, early enough to attend the rehearsal, and to help with the event that night. I went to Southwest to change my details and discovered that the Thursday flight was cheaper. Not only did I receive a voucher for the difference in cost, but I also discovered that Southwest doesn’t charge a fee to change your flight.
Also, as a bonus, the money I saved on the new flight ended up being just enough to cover an extra night in the hotel room.
Pack Ahead of Time. Or at Least Make List.
We’re re-doing the flooring in the house, and the carpet guy came a day later than scheduled. So Wednesday night I was unable to pack. Thursday morning, after dropping my son up at school, I hurried home to frantically move some furniture and pack. The result involved me just barely making my flight after running through the airport, just like you see in the movies. It also involved me forgetting socks (which I ended up not needing anyway, since I wore sandals all weekend), and neglecting to bring a contact case. I spent the weekend using the cups in my hotel room as contact cases.
If I had been really interested in getting those things, though, it would have been possible, even though they would have cost a little money. The 16th Street Mall (an awesome pedestrian mall) was only a couple blocks from the hotel, and had plenty of stores.
Don’t Use a Shuttle to Go from the Hotel to the Airport.
Many people found that riding the shuttle from the airport to the hotel was very beneficial. Not only is it inexpensive, but it also provides an opportunity to talk to others. One of my friends ended up talking to J.D. Roth on his shuttle ride. (I had the awesome experience of sharing a cab with JoeTaxpayer and Mike Piper of Oblivious Investor.)
I rode a cab in, but I signed up for the shuttle for my ride back out to the airport. The shuttle has to make several stops, and picks you up early. In my case, earlier than I wanted since I had to leave 15 minutes before the official end of the conference and the end of the last session. Which meant I missed Flexo from Consumerism Commentary giving his take on the future of the financial blogosphere. It was cool that I did get to spend a couple minutes with Mike Holman of Money Smarts Blog, who ended up being at the airport for a flight leaving even later than mine, but it was still irksome to leave so early.
It became even more annoying after I got through the security line, turned around, and saw Steve Chou of My Wife Quit Her Job coming through the line. He had taken a cab 30 or 40 minutes after my shuttle left the hotel. I could have stayed longer if I’d been a little more proactive in really hammering out the logistics with Steve, especially since I spent an insane amount of time with him at the conference. (By now, he and Tom Drake from Canadian Finance Blog must be sick of me. However, they’re practically the best friends I have, and probably know more about me than anyone except my husband and my college roommates. That should tell you something about how social I am in my offline life.)
It’s all about the cab ride (save money by splitting with another attendee) back to the airport if you want to maximize your time at a conference.
Did you attend FinCon12? Do you attend other conferences? What are your best observations and lessons?