That’s right, I’ve decided to post my own guide to Magento Imagine. By my calculations, I will have been to half of the Imagine conferences this year. So, I suppose, I’m half of an expert! So half of what I say below is probably garbage 😃 I’ve also been to a few other Magento events over the years, all over the world.
I covered my packing tips below, these are intended to be helpful once you get there
- Maps – the Wynn is huge, make sure you have a map – paper or digital – handy!
- The Dry Run – If it’s your first time, or just in case – figure out the route and how long it takes you to get from your lodging to the conference area. No surprises when you’re in a rush!
- WhatsApp Group – be sure to join the WhatsApp group for Imagine (contact me for details). It’s very handy for finding out the various other events that are happening before, during and after the conference. Twitter is also very popular – watch the Imagine hashtag! If you’re trying to find something to go to – just say something.
- Side Events – there are tons of events going on beyond the main conference events. Keep an eye on twitter and Whatsapp, and ask around…
- Food – while the drinks are free-flowing – the food can disappear quickly at the events! Obviously, this can cause problems… Be sure to chow down when you find food, especially at the parties each night. And drink lots of water. Don’t be like me.
- Introvert? Don’t worry, the Magento community is incredibly welcoming. Don’t be starstruck, most of the Magento folks are very personable, as well as the Masters, sponsors, etc. Check below for list of conversation starts in case you’re like me and tend to blank out… and of course feel free to say hi if you see me staggering around the conference.
- The Booze – there’s lots of it. Pace yourself and know your limits! Yes, great chance to try all sorts of things – enjoy but be careful!
- Parasol Up – This is almost the unofficial gathering spot of Imagine, with the Wynn Tower Bar being a close second – and also B Bar. These are all quite close or inside of the main casino floor at the Wynn. If you’re bored and looking for Magento peeps, check it out!
- Finding Food – As I mentioned, the food at the conference can disappear quickly. Lunch and dinners and generally great so no need to search for alternatives. Moreover, even costly restaurants can be pretty mediocre unless you have specific recommendations. Grand Lux Cafe across the street at the Venetian has decent food at decent prices – especially for breakfast. Its also a short walk away. There’s also a french restaurant in the Venetian called Bouchon that’s pretty good. La Cave and Jardin in Wynn/Encore are ok… The burger place across the street from the Wynn is also pretty popular – you’ll probably find some Magento folks there… You can get by with the free breakfast, lunch and dinner options on each conference day, so don’t feel like you need to spend a bunch for the crappy casino buffet, unless that’s your thing.
- Water – Vegas is dry – make sure to bring chapstick, or grab some in the vendor hall. And grab those water bottles whenever you see them.
- Your Badge is Your Life – don’t lose it, and don’t forget it! They’re serious when they say they won’t replace it… And you’ll need to be sure to have appropriate ID on you (driver’s license, or passport) for a lot of the events.
- Badge colors/designs – the badges generally have different colors/borders to indicate “categories” of attendee – i.e. merchant, magento employee, etc. This can be helpful if you’re trying to find certain sorts of people.
- Enter all the things – There are tons of giveaways, make sure to drop your business card in all of them! It’s worth the spam you may end up getting.
- The Strip – The Wynn is at one end of the strip, with the Venetian next to it. If you want to go see the strip, do it at night – it’s both cooler (literally) and more scenic. Walking the strip always takes longer than you expect, things seem closer than they are because they’re so huge – and you’re always getting diverted into casinos, etc. You can’t just walk straight up and down the strip!
- Off Strip – Go check out “old Vegas” i.e. Fremont Street. It’s worth the trip. You can get there cheaply by bus. No doubt groups from the conference will be heading there as well.
Ellis Island casino and restaurant are closer to the Wynn for a taste of “old Vegas”. They brew their own beer and have decent deals on food. It’s a couple (long) blocks off the strip. It’s very smoky though, but not as smoky as Silver Sands a little further away. Go there if you are on the prowl for a cheap simple buffet.
- Got a question? Ping me on twitter – @adwatson. If I can, I’ll help. Or introduce you to someone who knows more than me (plenty of options there!)
Here’s a few ideas of what to pack. Save lots of room in your luggage though. There will be lots of swag! Or, check out my cheap tip below if you have too much swag for your luggage space…
- Sunscreen and Shades – you’ll certainly spend most of your time in the Wynn/Encore. But, the lunches are held outside, and the tables with shade fill up quickly! Bring sunscreen and shades, especially if like you know who, you don’t have the hair up top you once had.
- Backpack – we’ll almost certainly get a free bag when we get our badges, and they’re usually pretty decent.
- Phone chargers – have a way to recharge your phone, you’ll be draining that battery quick. Lots of vendors will have free chargers as swag in the vendor hall – some will even be pre-charged! Bring the relevant cables (USB -> whatever you need).
- Less Shirts than you need – if you’re tight on space (and not picky on style), you can get by packing fewer shirts than you need – there will be tons of tee-shirts available as swag.
- Business Cards – You will have many, many chances to hand these out!
- Walking Shoes – everyone says this, and for good reason. Even if you’re staying at the Wynn, expect a 15-20 minute hike just to get to the conference area. Add more for when you get lost 🙂 And then you’ll spend a good chunk of the day wandering around the conference area… And then you’ll get lost again heading to your room…
- Coffee? Despite the 5 stars (and the 5 star cost) the Wynn/Encore doesn’t have coffee makers in the rooms. So you’ll have to go down to the main floor to buy over-priced coffee every morning. Or get by until you can get to the free coffee at the conference.
- Cheap “Luggage” – Here’s my cheap packing tip. If you end up with more swag than you have space for – there will be no shortage of cardboard boxes available in the vendor hall. Be sure to pack some packing tape and tape the heck out that thing. Depending on your travel plans – it may only need to survive one trip! We’ve successfully done this a few times.
More of us are bad at this then you probably think. Maybe these will help? I tried to keep the list short to make them easier to remember.
- Is this your first time at Imagine? What do you think?
- What other events have you been to?
- What do you do? What does your company do?
- Where’s the best swag?
- What time did you get in? When do you leave?
- What else are you planning to do in Vegas?