In exactly 3 weeks, thousands of us will be sitting in the Northern Hemisphere ballroom at the Dolphin hotel in Orlando. We have already been involved in some social activities on Saturday with soccer, BALD and ESPN, followed by a full day of jumpstart and master class sessions on Sunday. Sunday evening there was the big welcome reception on the beach between Swan and Dolphin.
Some of us may have continued to Kimonos afterwards, or perhaps to Jelly Rolls dueling piano bar on the Boardwalk. Or perhaps we have been hanging out with friends somewhere, catching up on what happened since last year, smoking a cigar and having another drink.
But now it is Monday morning. You probably got up early and headed to breakfast, so you could get to the OGS early and get a good seat. For the last 10 years or so, breakfast have been in the Pacific hall, but in 2013, that area was used for the Conference. Instead a big dining tent was erected in the parking lot in front of the Pacific hall, reminding us old-timers about Lotusphere in the late 90’s, before the Pacific hall was built, back when all meals were in dining tents. I suspect we will see that dining tent again this year.
This all brings us to food and drink. As a 16-time attendee to Lotusphere, take my word for it: don’t skip breakfast. Different days have different breakfast items to offer. Some mornings there will be scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages. Other days there will be fruit, bagels and pastries. There is always cereal, milk, yogurt and orange juice, as well as muffins. If nothing else, grab a muffin and an orange juice or two. Perhaps a cup of coffee or tea to wake you up. But if you don’t eat breakfast, you will not have the energy you need for the first part of the day. Lotusphere is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You will do a lot of walking, and sit in dark conference rooms, drinking from the proverbial firehose of knowledge. You need all the energy you have to keep up.
Lunch is usually a buffet, except Thursday, when it is a boxed lunch. Don’t miss the famous pretzel cookie in the box! The lunch offers two or three different types of meat, several sides as well as a couple of salads and bread. Small individual deserts are available on the tables, together with ice tea and water. Historically, the lunches have been Italian, Mexican and American, and after all these years, I don’t see that changing.
In the morning and afternoon, there are coffee breaks, where you in addition to coffee and tea also can find bottled water and soda. In the afternoon break you can often find some snacks, like soft pretzels, ice cream bars, cookies or pastry. Bottled water is available all day now, but I still suggest that you stick a few bottles in your backpack when you can. I usually grab a couple of cans of caffeinated soda as well. They usually come in handy during lunch or during the morning sessions the next day when I need to wake up… If you stay at Swan or Dolphin, you get a resort package, which includes “high-speed” internet access as well as a couple of bottles of water each day. I still make sure I have plenty of water in my room, for when I get thirsty at night. It is very important to stay hydrated. Drink as much water as you can. In the past I have also been bringing Crystal Light powder to flavor the water, and this year I intend to do the same. Stick a few individual packages in your backpack or badge holder for easy access.
Dinner is usually up to you, but don’t fear. Monday you have the showcase reception, as well as some vendor or national dinners or receptions. UK Night has been taking place Monday evening as well. You can often get invitations to dinners if you talk to your account reps of your vendors. The classic Wednesday party has been moved to Tuesday this year, to give the attendees of Kenexa World a chance to go. Their part of the conference is shorter, and ends already Tuesday. There will be food and drinks at the park, which this year is Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I am sure many of the vendors who traditionally had their receptions on Tuesday will move them to Wednesday instead. Keep your eyes and ears open, and you may score a free dinner, keeping the bean counters in accounting back at the office happy.
So to recap: drink plenty of water, don’t skip meals (especially not breakfast) and take advantage of the free dinners that often are available through your vendors.
One more tip. Since the alcohol consumption at Lotusphere/Connect tend to be somewhat high, make sure you know your limits. Have a beer or a drink each night for the two to three weeks leading up to the conference to increase your tolerance. You may want to increase this to two drinks the last week before you head to Orlando.
Oh, and don’t try to out-drink any Scandinavians or attendees from the UK or Ireland… You will lose. :-)
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