BbWorld 2017 is just around the corner. I don’t know about you, but in all the excitement, I inevitably find myself at the conference realizing that I’ve forgotten something. You know, something important like my business cards. Or my Macbook.

So I don’t find myself in that position again, I’ve created a checklist. Not just to help with packing logistics, but to make sure that I get the most out of the conference—both professionally and personally. I thought I’d share this list with you. And if for some reason, we meet at the conference and I’m without a business card and my phone is dead…well, let’s just keep that between us.

1.) Prepare

I’ve learned my lesson after spending many conference wasting precious time downloading apps, pouring through agendas and trying to get my bearings straight. With all the resources out there, there really is no excuse to not pre-plan:

  • Download the BbWorld mobile app or visit the website to build your schedule.
  • Follow active attendees and Blackboard-ers on Twitter.
  • Join the Blackboard Community Site to get a sense of what people want to see and hear.
  • Plan a visit to the Expo Hall, noting which of the 50+ exhibitors you want to see first (and look on Twitter to see who has the best swag/receptions/parties!)
  • Ask Blackboard-ers about which sessions cover certain topics. Faculty development, analytics, third-party integrations – we’ve got that covered along with much more and can rattle off a list of pertinent sessions in a second.

2.) People

BbWorld 2017 is as much about the networking as it is about the content. It’s about seeing familiar faces, as well as making new connections… and with thousands of attendees, I need a game plan:

  • Discover and connect with other attendees using the BbWorld app.
  • Take advantage of having the Blackboard team on staff – if you need a question answered or just want to provide feedback, FIND US!
  • Network at events and receptions.
  • Swing by the Community Knowledge Bar to meet face-to-face with members of the product, design and support teams. This year features the return of one of my favorite parts of BbWorld – the UX Lab!
  • As you’re setting up meetings, remember that New Orleans is in the Central Time Zone. You don’t want to be the one sending out the last minute, “I meant Eastern!” messages.

3.) Play

Here’s the part of the blog where I turn into Trip Advisor. I usually have a few hours of personal time to check out the city, so I compared notes with my colleagues about their top picks for New Orleans. This list has a mix of tourist spots for first-timers and some hidden gems.

  • Café Du Monde for the beignets. (Just avoid wearing a black shirt while eating them – you can’t hide the evidence!)
  • The Court of Two Sisters: Jazz and Creole – do I need to say more?
  • Ghost and Vampire Tours: There are a lot to choose from, so do your research to find what’s best for you.
  • The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum: I’m hoping to stop here during BbWorld.
  • NOLA Art House: This Art House is a short walk from the Convention Center and another good alternative to Bourbon Street.

This blog would take days to read if I started listing out my favorite NOLA restaurants and bars. Members of the Community have shared their recommendations on food and drink spots, so check those out.

4.) Pack

Whether it’s for work or play, there are a handful of things that I have on my permanent conference packing list:

  • Layers of clothing: If you stroll outside between sessions, you’ll probably go from 90° to 68° in a matter of minutes. Make sure you have something to accommodate both climates. And unlike Las Vegas, we can’t keep telling ourselves that it’s a dry heat.
  • A small umbrella: With 90% humidity, there is bound to be a sudden downpour. But don’t worry, there are shuttles running between the convention center and conference hotels if you want to get out of the heat and humidity.
  • Business cards: BbWorld usually represents 75% of my annual business card distribution. (The rest usually goes into the bowls at Chipotle where you get a chance to win free lunch for your office.)
  • Phone charger and a portable charger: My phone will be out of battery 3 hours into the Customer Appreciation Party, so I have to make sure I have my charging case.
  • A step tracker: You’re going to walk…a lot…so in addition to the comfy shoes, pack your FitBit, Garmin, Jawbone or whatever device you use. And back by popular demand, is the unofficial BbWorld Step Challenge! We had about 50 people participate last year, and I hope we can up that number this year.

And don’t forget to set that out-of-office reply! You want to maximize your conference attendance and not have to miss out on key sessions. If you feel bold, here are some ideas for some creative out of office messages.

Bonus!

What else do you have on your pre-BbWorld list? Comment below!

Looking forward to seeing you soon in New Orleans!

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