What do I bring? What should I wear? Help!
My first experience at INBOUND was last year, 2017. Wow, it was amazing. Michelle Obama was the highlight attraction for me, plus I knew I'd learn a lot as well! I'd planned my daily sessions and had all the info on each speaker and each session, I was prepared. However, I was definitely not prepared for the climate, the fashion, the dining or the consecutive late nights.
If you're thinking of coming along to INBOUND18 or you've already booked your ticket and started to view ALL the session options, I recommend you also consider your options for, transport from your accommodation, the climate in Boston, your own dietary needs, and items to take each day to the conference.
For INBOUND17 Pete, my husband and I, booked an apartment in Downtown Boston. It was a fantastic location, with easy access to walk or take a bus to the main Conference Centre. We spent the first weekend exploring the city. The shopping, the walks, the waterfront, museums and historical landmarks, the Boston Tea Party, made Boston itself feel very familiar to us. Coming from London, Boston has it's fair share of English architecture and history.
The shopping area, Boylston and Newbury Streets offered department store shopping, boutiques and great food dining options. The Lobster salad and Sam Adams at Joes American Bar and Grill on Newbury on a sunny day is a must.
On the first day, Partner Day, and because it was 29 degrees outside, I rocked up to the centre in heels, a sun dress, a desire to learn and meet as many people as possible. I learnt a lot, met loads of like minded people and I froze in the ultra low air con!
Thankfully, the day flew by, the food was plentiful and the sessions were great. The after party was loads of fun and walking home in the late afternoon sunshine we both felt very privileged. Earlier in the day, I made a mental note to take a wrap or jacket and definitely flat shoes for the first official day of INBOUND17.
Arriving early to the main Conference Centre the next morning after a 20mins walk from our apartment, I was blown away by the sheer size of the complex. I was happy to see that most people arriving were very casual, in jeans, sneakers, and backpacks (checked by security on their way in).
After checking the map of the Conference Centre and layout of the sessions I realised just how far I would be walking throughout the day. I was glad I wore trainers. The complex is huge! In my planning of my favourite sessions to attend, I hadn't fathomed that the layout of the complex would mean that each session was at least 15 mins walk to the next session. Every single breakout session was in a different room, on a different floor, down a different corridor. I must have averaged around 10 to 14 miles each day! I actually lost weight that week!!
As far as what to bring? I recommend a small backpack. You'll want to take notes and carry your phone for scanning business cards or QR codes to connect with people you meet. I carried water everywhere, a notepad, snacks and an extra layer every day. The air con was generally way too cold for me while outside it was averaging 27 to 28 degrees.
I wore jeans and a blazer almost every day, with a tshirt or lightweight top, but I always needed an extra layer for the colder rooms. Once I was sat to watch a longer sessions, I quickly cooled off.
Biggest bonuses, Water and Coffee are free almost everywhere! Plus there are small coffee stands which sell snacks and light meals or sandwiches. Both Pete and I found that we spent so much time meeting up with people that we often missed lunch and that meant we lived mainly on coffee, snack bars and alcohol for the week! I luvvved the eco-chic salads from 'Sweetgreen' on Summer Street and they became the late night dinner options on our walk (or stagger) home.
On a couple of days, we took our PC's with us. We never actually had a chance to sit down and work, we were just too busy meeting people or learning. This meant, we had to lug around our PC's all day (or Pete did!) - not great. It wasn't till the second last day that we discovered the Cloak room facility! Still, I'm not sure that I would have left my PC in a bag there, so I'd say, just don't take it.
Packing up on our departure day and heading straight to the Cloak room, it made sense to spend the afternoon catching up on work amongst the 'wicked smaht' of Boston. With their Mac-books and a Cafe Nero coffee it felt very comfortable and hard to leave.
So, my biggest takeaways:
If you're coming to Partner Day on the Tuesday, it is a little more dressy with a full sit down lunch and presentation from HubSpot. Business casual is the order of the day and the afternoon session are not miles apart, so heels are still an option.
For INBOUND18 Conference days, tidy casual with an extra layer (if you feel the cold) is the way to go.
Trainers or flat shoes for the mileage. Backpack for the giveaways and water, snacks and food options.
I'll be keeping an eye out for the 'Head Shot' booth in the exhibition area. Last year I had 3 shoots taken, which have been super handy.
Top Tip: Take a look at your LinkedIN Mobile App - that little symbol in the Search bar of the mobile App brings up your own QR code and a scanner > Press. Scan. Connect. Easy. No Business cards needed!
See you there xx
p.s. Me before the party > Me after the party!!