Okay, you’ve had a couple of weeks to recover from Microsoft Ignite in Orlando. Your feet have recovered. You are hopefully over whatever bug you caught while you were there (thanks again Bill). Your head is full of information and new stuff you can’t wait to get your hands on.
You know what that means? Right, it’s time to start planning for Ignite 2018. Seriously, if you have plans to attend Ignite 2018 there are some things you need to start planning for now in order to get the best experience possible and since Ignite will again be in Orlando this year, we can take the lessons learned from Ignite 2017 to helps us prepare for an even better Ignite 2018.
So, without further ado…. Here’s my advice for attending Microsoft Ignite 2018, in Orlando, FL.
Book your hotel now
Yes, you read that right. By now we know the layout of the land and some of us learned the hard way that the hotel we wanted to stay at was sold out. The best advice I could give anyone planning to attend Ignite 2018 would be to book their hotel today. This really is a no-brainer. You can cancel your reservation right up until close to the event without penalty. Why would you not book your hotel now and make sure you don’t have a horrendous daily commute to the Orange County Convention Center?
Wear comfortable shoes
PLEASE learn from our painful experience here. I can honestly say my feet have never hurt so much before. I averaged over 17,000 steps a day walking between the difference halls. It was brutal. Add a night at Universal Studios to the end of that and it was something I’ll never forget… the pain… So, bring your most comfortable shoes you have and some ibuprofen just in case. I’ve heard these same sentiments from many folks.
Plan your schedule based on what’s close to you
This wasn’t my idea, but someone mentioned it on Facebook (sorry, can’t remember who). The point is that the South Hall and the West Hall can be a good 20+ minute walk so there’s a good chance if you are picking sessions that are in different halls that you’ll likely be late. When planning your schedule, try to find sessions that interest you that are grouped in such a way that you don’t have to go between halls. This will save your feet and your sanity. Remember that sessions are recorded. So, even if you are just dying to see my awesome session but were in the South Hall, you can always watch it later.
Take full advantage of the networking possibilities
If you see a friend or colleague you haven’t spoken to in a while, stop and talk. If you see someone from the community that you want to meet, stop them and say hello. If you spy someone from your favorite Microsoft Product Group, go up to them and say hello. My favorite thing about Ignite is the networking opportunities. There is no other event in the world where you have access to the level of both Microsoft and Community people, so take advantage of it! Make some new friends, buy some drinks and make the most of the opportunity. Remember, the sessions are recorded, so no big deal if you miss Benjamin Niaulin’s session. I mean, it’s not like it was *MY* session you missed.
On a similar note, try to attend the vendor parties too. Many vendors will have some sort of party for their clients and friends. This is a great way to get some one-on-one time with people in a social atmosphere (and cut down on your drink tab for the week). Don’t know if a vendor will be throwing a party? Ask!
Eat lunch at the B Line at least once
My only gripe about the conference itself was the lunches. Sandwiches… every… single… day… They tried to jazz it up by changing that roast beef sandwich to a roll one day… but… I still can’t look at a sandwich yet. I get it, they need to feed 27,000 people. That’s a logistical nightmare. So, rather than get mad at the conference organizers check out the B Line Diner in the Hyatt Regency. The food was great and it’s right next to the Convention Center South Hall. Just get there early, there will be a line.
Stay out late with good friends at least one night
Sleep is important. Gone are the days where I can stay up until 3am every night while at one of these events… not that I ever did that sort of thing. If you get the chance though, stay out late one night. Eat at Denny’s at 3am with people you enjoy and go to bed so tired that you are asleep before you hit the bed. These conferences are exhausting and it’s work… but create some good memories along the way.
Avoid the Uber (or Lyft) lines
Here’s a final tip for those of you who took the time to read to the end of the blog. I discovered that if you go through the back of the exhibit hall and into the North Hall of the convention center you can walk right out the door and request an Uber without having to wait in a large line with a large group of people. What’s more, because of the position of the North Hall, you don’t have to go on International Drive to get where you are going. Plus, if you are already in the exhibit hall, it’s SOOO much closer.
Well, have I got a deal for you. The North American Collaboration Summit brings together some of the best Ignite speakers from all over the world to talk about SharePoint, PowerBI, Azure, PowerApps, Flow and more! This amazing conference takes place March 2nd and 3rd 2018 right in the middle of North America in Branson, MO. It’s a wonderful location, and some of the best learning and networking you will find outside of Ignite. Plus, because I love you guys so much, you can use the promotion code “MarkRackley” and register for just $30. Yes, $30.
Start planning your 2018 experiences now and I’ll see you in Branson and Orlando!