Lotusphere Tips - New to Lotusphere?

Lotusphere is a big conference so it cab be a little daunting for the first timer, espcially if you are travelling alone.

First things first

  • Book your trip - get registered, book the hotel (or at least plan where you want to stay), and flight booked as soon as you can. Take advantage of the early bird booking discount for the conference pass as it will save a few hundred dollars. Decide if you are staying on or off site and if you need a room-mate. Twitter and the Lotusphere linked in group are great places to advertise for a roomy.
  • Read the tips and guides
  • - find out what it's like. Lotusphere is a social conference, as well as all the great sessions, training and information you will absorb over that week, you will also meet a lot of very knowlegable, fun, sociable and cool people. There are lots of guides if you google them, I have pulled a few together in the guides section. There are also lots of tips that people have, I am also pulling those together in the tips section.
  • Plan your arrival - Try and arrive friday or early saturday if possible - There are many pre Lotusphere things occuring : a group regularly get together saturday afternoon for some water activities, there is B.A.L.D (bloggers annual lotusphere dinner) in the Red River Brewery on the boardwalk on saturday afternoon, which leads into the Turtle Party at the ESPN club also on the boardwalk. A great place to meet the bloogers, tweeters and lots of lovely Lotus people. I used my free saturday to go and play in the Magic Kingdom as I am a real Disney fan and then went along to B.A.L.D after.
  • Plan your departure - Try and fly out on the following friday or saturday as well - there are lots of post Lotusphere activity, the blogger open mini golf - 2012 site coming soon, as well as the post Lotusphere chat - what was good, not so good, jaw droppingly awesome, and closing night in Kimonos - where we all have one last sing song and say goodbye.
  • Grab a Lotusphere Buddy - Arrange to meet a "Lotusphere Buddy" when you arrive - could be a twitter buddy, a blogging buddy, someone you chat to on skype or sametime - basically a person in the community you know - that way you will already know someone when you arrive, even if you are meeting in person for the first time

What to take

  • Pack quality footware - Comfortable shoes/trainer/sneakers and good socks - this can not be emphasied enough. You do a lot of walking. The conference is spread between the two hotels. Although they are close together (about a 5 to 10 minute walk), the hotels are huge - it's Disney size and scale which is BIG. The average walking distance you will cover at lotusphere is about 26 miles. Take a pedometer if you want to track your walking.
  • Electical Goodies - Don't forget your phone, iPad/Tablet, Laptop/Netbook etc. plus a charger for all electrical equipment - and if you are from outside of where they use american plug sockets you will need a few your county to USA power adaptors. Purchased from ebay and allgood supermarkets / stores for not a lot, but will set you back a few dollars if you forget to take them.
  • No need for a bag - You will be given a backpack / rucksack / bag on arrival for all your goodies - you will need room in your case to get this home, if you can get away with no laptop bag for the journey out to Lotusphere that will save you space - although ladies you may want a small bag for the evening, I suffered badly without one last year.
  • Toiletories, pain killers and vitamins of choice - The hotels are very good, they replenish the stocks of the "house" shampoo, shower gel and soap every day, but you may want to take your own (I do), pack pain killers - you will get aches and pains, multivitamins are also a firm favourite as you are on the go for hours (normally from 7 am until at least 11pm everynight), bandaids / plasters are also good for blisters from walking and your conference badge (thanks mitch for the tip) as it will rub the back of your neck.

You are on your way

  • Getting to Lotusphere - If you are flying into Orlando airport there are three ways you can get to the Disney World Resort
    1. Get a Cab - its about $40 - $60 ish, you can share .. tweet @lotuscab with the #ls12 hastag with date and time of your flight and see if anyone can share with you
    2. Hire a car - best if you are in a group and / or staying off site. Otherwise your car will sit in the hotel carpark for the entire time you are at Lotusphere
    3. Use the 2 dollar bus (111)- I kid you not, there is a bus that goes from Orlando Airport to the Disney World Resort that costs $2. I used it twice last year. It takes approx 50 mins and was great.
  • Arrange to meet your "Lotusphere Buddy" if you can for a catch up and a pre Lotusphere chat.
  • Time difference - can be a killer if you are flying in from overseas - stay awake late on the first night if you can, your body will thank you for it.

Once you are there

  • Sleep when you can - Long, long days - BOFs (Birds of a Feather sessions) start with breakfast at 7am, you will be on the go until 7pm at least. There are multiple receptions and parties and generally networking everynight. If you make it to bed before midnight you'll be lukcy. Sleep when you can, have an afternoon nap or a power nap in between sessions if you need it.
  • Eat when you can - as above we have very long days - IBM provide breakfast and lunch - eat them, also grab extra fruit, water anything you can carry from breakfast and lunch to keep you going, there is precious little in the way of snacks throughout the day. Unless you are going to a formal dinner most receptions are finger food. If you are going to drink make sure you eat and drink plenty of water of course :)
  • Plan your day if possible - I've said it twice, I'll say it again - long, long days. Prioritise your sessions, remeber that most likey you will be walking to and fro between hotels all day, so plan accordingly.
  • Take notes
  • Meet someone famous - try and say hello to someone you admire. Someone you follow on twitter, read their blog or books or someone you just admire. You never know you may make a new friend.
I hope you have found this useful. More tips will be coming soo.