Many of you going to IBM Connect 2016 in Orlando in a just two weeks are coming from other countries. There are a few things you may want to be aware of.
First of all, if you need a visa to enter the US you have hopefully already arranged that. If you are covered by the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) you don’t need a visa but need to fill out an electronic ESTA application. Normally you find out at once if you are eligible. The ESTA application is valid for two (2) years, assuming you haven’t changed passport, name or something has happend that makes you ineligible for ESTA (for example arrested for a drug related offense). You may want to look up your old ESTA to make sure it is still valid. I have been told that the ESTA form has changed and now requires more information than before.
You also need a passport with a machine-readable zone on the biographic page and it must be an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner in order to be allowed to use the VWP. It is also a good idea to make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after you intend to leave the US.
After you get to Orlando and pick up your luggage, you need transportation to the hotel. Mears Shuttle is $33 for a round-trip ticket to Hilton Orlando, or $29.70 if you order on their website using the promo code WEB10.
If you need a rental car I can recommend Turo (formerly RelayRides). It is a peer-to-peer car rental, usually much cheaper than a traditional rental car. You need to create an account ahead of time, since you must send copies of your drivers license to the site before you can rent. I have used the service several times, I rented two cars for 10 days in Hawaii in 2014, a SUV in Denver for an extended weekend and several times I rented a car locally for a day for some transportation. You can see it as Uber for car rentals.
If you haven’t got a hotel room yet, and if the Hilton is over your budget (perhaps you pay for the conference yourself), Days Inn across the street has much more reasonable rates. I got a room for $59/night.
Hope to see you in Orlando!