VMWorld – Preparing for your first time!!! (BAW15)
Here is a short post about what I believe that you should do in preparation to attend VMworld. My experience is mainly based on VMworld Europe but some of the items are certainly valid for VMWorld US as well.
Registration, Hotels & Travel
- Discounts – When you register, make sure that you take advantage of any discounts that are available. For example, if you are a VCP or have VMUG Advantage memebership then you will get a discount. Also remember to utilise the Early-bird registration to obtain further discounts.
- TAM Day – If you have a TAM, then you should register for TAM Day, in Barcelona this occurs on the Monday and during the registration process you need to enter the email address of your TAM to obtain approval. Basically on TAM day, you have additional sessions which give you some of the announcements prior to the main announcements in the Key Notes.
- Location – When booking your hotel, do not necessarily book a hotel near to the conference centre – I’ll touch on this more later, but the conference centre in Barcelona is not close to Barcelona town centre and therefore you may need to travel to see any sights or attend any of the parties (there is not much to do in the evenings around the conference centre)
- Don’t splash out on an expensive hotel – if you are trying to go to VMworld on a budget, then in my experience you just need somewhere to sleep, have a shower and maybe some breakfast, therefore an expensive hotel may not be worth the money
- Breakfast – As mentioned earlier, although you don’t want an expensive hotel, you may want to make sure that you have the capability of breakfast at the hotel – you will definitely want to eat breakfast as you have a long day ahead of you and will need all the energy you can get. Also make sure that your breakfast is available early enough to allow you to eat, catch a metro train and get into the conference in preparation for the Key Notes.
- Arrival Dates – This is an interesting subject. In Barcelona, the main conference starts on the Tuesday but as mentioned earlier, the Monday is TAM day. If you want to see any of the sites of Barcelona, then I would advise that you arrive in Barcelona at least the day before your first day at the conference.
- Travel from the airport – Most people will arrive by aeroplane. From around 4pm on the Sunday (at the Barcelona conference), there will be shuttle buses running from the airport to the conference centre. I believe that they then run all day everyday of the conference after that. This is usually the best and cheapest method to get to Barcelona from the airport. If you arrive earlier on the Sunday, then I would recommend booking a transfer with a transfer company to get you to your hotel, rather than book a taxi – taxis are relatively cheap but it is still about a 30 minute drive into Barcelona from the airport.
- Travel during the conference – You have the option to collect a metro ticket from the conference centre when you pick up your materials. This allows you to use the metro system for 10 trips. In most cases this should be sufficient to get you to the conference centre each morning and back again each evening… you can also use this ticket to assist with getting to parties but I usually end up walking quite a bit in the evenings instead.
- Packing for Swag – Pack light or bring a larger suitcase than you need. A lot of people will go for the freebies (Swag) that are given away from the various booths. After a while you may end up with a lot of Swag… you can, obviously, get rid of some Swag before heading home or you can make sure that there is sufficient space to fit in most of the Swag that you receive.
- Clothing – The dress code at the conference is business casual but that is quite a varied dress code. You will therefore see people who are wearing suits alongside people wearing boardshorts and trainers. My recommendation is to where something that will keep you cool (it is usually quite warm in Barcelona) along with comfortable shoes that will allow you to do lots of walking – see my previous post on a non-technical review of VMWorld 2017 in Barcelona (https://virtualworlduk.co.uk/vmworld-2017-a-non-technical-review/)
Scheduling, Materials & Making the Most of the Conference
- Scheduling Sessions – One of the biggest mistakes I’ve discovered is when people book out their whole calendar during the conference with scheduled sessions. If you think about it, do you want to be in sessions listening to people telling you about features and technical deep dives etc. all day every day at the conference… this can be pretty hard going… especially after some of the parties in the evenings. To experience all that the conference has to offer, then you should give yourself some breaks throughout the days to visit the solutions exchange, hands-on labs etc. Schedule your sessions early to avoid being disappointed.
- Conference Pass – To get into the conference and any of the events/parties, you are likely to need your conference pass. This is collected from the conference centre entrance. You are able to collect this usually from around 4pm on Sunday (at the Barcelona conference). My recommendation is to collect this the day before your first day at the conference as this will allow you to avoid the queues and any delays on the first day of the conference. Do NOT lose your conference pass as this can be very expensive to replace.
- Materials – When you collect your conference pass you can also collect your materials. Basically, this consists of a bag/backpack with, at least, a notebook & pen, a T-shirt and a water bottle. You may wish to try to personalise your bag/backpack, as there are going to be thousands of people with the same bag during the conference.
- Solutions Exchange – The solutions exchange allows you to speak to all of the major companies that have anything to do with virtualisation. After walking around for a little while, you’ll notice that everyone wants to scan your conference pass (this is for future marketing and phone calls) and that some stands seem to always have a lot of people stood around them at certain times of the day. This is because those stands are often giving away prizes such as laptops, tablets etc. and therefore become magnets for IT people. The solutions exchange is also where you’ll be able to grab Swag and speak with the different companies. It might be worthwhile having a story ready to recite to each of the vendors if required (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a real story) – obviously if you have a real requirement when speaking with a vendor, then you should utilise your real information.
- Hands-On Labs – Hands-on Labs allow you to try different labs and technologies without having to install the software yourself. Many people know about Hands-On Labs being available all year round but the labs available at VMWorld are the latest labs (often with unreleased labs) which will not be available to the public until a few weeks after the conference. There is also the opportunity to win prizes by taking labs and these are randomly picked. If you get the opportunity, you should register to go on a Hands-On Lab tour – these will take you behind the scenes to understand what it takes to put the Hands-On Labs area together at the conference.
- Lunches – When you are scheduling your sessions, do not forget to eat. There are two types of food usually available. Around the session rooms, there are cold sandwiches etc. Near the Solutions Exchange there is an area at the back which provides hot food – this food is usually pretty good and helps to keep you going.
- Additional Sessions – There are some sessions that are so popular that another session on a different day is added, you should keep an eye on the app or the big screens to understand which ones these are. There are also community sessions taking place, education sessions taking place and vendor specific sessions taking place on their stands so there is always something to listen to and fill up time.
- Gatherings/Parties – On the Wednesday evening there is usually the VMWorld Customer Appreciation Party. This takes place at the conference centre and you are unlikely to have time to return to your hotel before the party starts. If you want to have something to eat before the entertainment comes on, then you want to get into the party at the beginning. The party entertainment has been mixed over the past few years but I believe that this is getting better now. Lots of vendors also throw parties on the Monday & Tuesday nights of the conference. My recommendation is to keep an eye on the Gatherings page of the VMWorld site and register for as many of the parties as you can. You aren’t likely to visit all of the parties but you are never sure who you will bump into and which of the parties you’ll end up at. A couple of years ago I ended up attending 4 parties in one evening – where you’ll spend an hour of so at each of the parties before moving on.
Above all, when attending VMWorld, have fun.
Blog-a-Week 2018 Posting (BAW):
In previous years, I have had periods throughout the year where I have been unable to post an entry to my blog. During 2018, my aim is to post a blog entry each week of the year. I’m hoping that the blog entries will all be useful bits of information or items that I’ve been working on recently but if the standard of the entries drops, I apologise now, as this could have been a busy week and I wasn’t able to put in as much time as I would have liked into the post