1. Avoid the pitfall of FoMO mode (“Fear of Missing Out”)
Don’t be afraid to say “no” to an invitation. People will respect that and yes, it reminds them that YOUR time is valuable as well. Remember to follow up emails (or at least as many as you can) and send your regrets. I usually write something like “This sounds like a great event, but unfortunately I am already committed during this time period”. Make the email sound as personal as possible and NOT like a form letter.
2. Talk to People, Make Friends and Stay in Touch!
Talk to people in airport bars. You’ll probably never see these people ever again in your life…it can be very therapeutic, but the drinks may be terrible! I had an interesting conversation while drinking a terrible Manhattan at an airport bar during a layover in Detroit on the way to Tales this year! On the other hand, make friends with the people who attend these events! This is the best way to learn about products, techniques and For example: Brand Ambassadors (expense accounts!) by the very nature of their job are interesting and social people , invites to parties you probably don’t know about and are usually very interesting people! If you don’t have cards (Vistaprint or Moo should work), add them on social media.
3. Notes and Backing Up
If you are taking notes or pictures for a blog or some other professional use or -- like me - recording audio, back up your stuff EVERY DAY. I left a backpack behind in a bar for about 2 minutes. I went back and it was still there, but that could have been tragic. Those were 2 stressful minutes thinking how I would have lost everything that I had recorded that day, but not everything for the whole week, because I follow my own advice and backup! Dropbox or Google Drive are great tools for doing this.
4. Tip Early, Tip Well and Tip Often
Remember to tip the hotel staff THROUGHOUT the week, not at the end. Yes, this is beyond “just” housekeeping. (thanks Mom, which is the way I was taught growing up.
5. Getting Around
Use Uber! No cash and you'll have a record of where you went if you need the receipts And randomly, here’s a question for Uber or Apple - why can’t you summon an Uber based on the address in your appointment?
6. Phone Alarms: Not Just for Waking Up
Set alarms on your phone to remind you where you are supposed to be next! I plan out my schedule for Tales minute by minute, and it’s impossible to keep it in your head. It’s very easy to be at an event, have some cocktails and great conversation and forget that it’s time to move on to the next thing. I spend a lot of time before arriving to make sure my schedule is all ready to go, with alarms and addresses. My phone buzzes 15 minutes before, shows the address of where to go, I say good bye, make every effort to thank the host, and move on. Don’t take advantage of people’s schedules. Remember, the brands and PR companies put a lot of time, money and effort into producing these events, and they want them to be well attended and on time.
Don’t forget to eat. DO Accept every invitation to a sponsored meal. Dinner? Yes! Lunch? Yes! No invitation? Carve out a little time to check out a local restaurant or neighborhood joint and support the local economy.
Go to bed early, or at least not TOO late!
Tip #1: My advice for dealing with weird, funny, flirty drunk girls? Find her boyfriend and go over and introduce yourself and shake his hand. Yes there probably is a story there...use your imagination!
Tip #2: Get Amazon deliveries to your hotel. If you need something, (for instance, I go through a lot of AA batteries during Tales), why have them delivered to your home and then lug them around in your luggage?
Tip #3: If something goes wrong at the hotel, find a manager and have him/her sort it out. For example, I had a package delivered to the hotel. Last year, the front desk attendant said, “Oh yes Mr. Weber I have it right here!” This year, she said “You’ll have to talk to the Bellman”, which I did. Then I gave him a tip and asked him to have it brought to my room. (I didn’t have time to wait for him to look for it). Well, it was not never got there. I found a manager and explained the situation. The package was finally delivered to my room 2 days after it arrived at the hotel.
But I know that this was an exception. The Staff and the facilities at Hotel Monteleone are always top notch, even when they are super busy during Tales! It’s really nice to stay at the same hotel each time you travel to a particular city that you visit on a regular basis. On the other hand, it’s so easy these days to shop around for a good deal. I love to stay at the Monteleone during Tales, but staying there for 7 days is not cheap. It is awesome though!
After enjoying a top tier hotel for a week, it was time to go home. I didn’t see it coming, but my connecting flight was canceled. I was stranded in Detroit overnight due to a large band of strong storms.
Because it was weather related, as opposed to mechanical, the airline was not willing to compensate me for a hotel room. (This was not in the budget!)
A lot of flights headed to the East Coast were canceled, and I got worried that hotel rooms near the airport would become scarce and expensive. So I used my phone to shop around a little, but probably should have vetted my choice a little better. The hotel I chose….well the best thing I can say about it is that it was….cheap. Creepy, not very clean, and cheap.
In an nutshell: Have fun! Meet new people and try to stay in touch with them. Drink water. Sleep. Repeat!