You’ve planned out your Autodesk University 2016 experience: You know what classes you’ll attend, what Big Deal Speakers you can’t miss, you have all your business cards, you’ve practiced your elevator speech… You’re ready to hit the airport.
So what about after the plane touches down at McCarran?
You’re going to be on your feet a lot – just walking from your hotel room to the event areas might be more of a stroll than you’ve done in a while and you could be doing that several times a day. Add in moving from class to class, event to event, wandering the trade show, and even just standing around talking, and your dogs will be barking by the end of the day. There are myriad good-looking footwear options that are also comfortable, so it’s not as if you have to wear Crocs, but a good pair of shoes with some cushioned or custom insoles can make all the difference. And if you do go with Crocs, well, maybe people will think you’re Mario Batali.
Speaking of Mario, Las Vegas is built on gambling, but it’s also built for people spending money on food. There are no end of places you can hold a quick get-together with anyone. A good idea is to pick out a spot to serve as your de facto home base for hastily scheduled meetings and impromptu get-togethers. Scout the place out, and become comfortable with it. Be extra nice to the staff, and they might remember you and reciprocate – few things affect people’s impression of you more than other people’s impression of you. It doesn’t have to be a high-end place; anywhere within easy reach of the conference will be clean, well-run, and professional, so make use of that Vegas hospitality to make people think you’re the King of the Strip.
If you’re going to GeT the Most Out of Autodesk University, get your rest, but accept that you won’t get enough. There’s a saying among Tour de France racers for when they aren’t on their bikes: “Stand only if you can’t sit; sit only if you can’t lie down.” The point being, a three-week, 2,500-mile bicycle race is so unbelievably grueling, any rest a rider can get counts.
AU is hardly the Bataan Death March, but you will be putting in long, long days, spread out over a large area. So if you find yourself with ten minutes between events, classes, or meetings, and you know you’re ready for what comes next (that’s where all that pre-show planning came in), sit down, let your mind relax, and take a few deep breaths.
And when it’s finally bedtime, do whatever you have to do to make sure you get as sound and restful a sleep as possible. If you have to bring your white noise machine from home, or pick up some herbal supplements from the drug store… whatever it takes, the difference between a good sleep (even a short one) and tossing and turning could be the difference between making the most of AU and not.
That being said, making the most of AU means not getting the kind of rest you would get at home. Just a fact. So accept that as a given, and embrace it. It’s New Year’s Eve for a week. You will have fun, you will learn things, you will meet amazing people, you will have opportunities you won’t see again until next AU, if ever – so hit every day with all the energy you have, and soak in everything AU has to offer. You can wring yourself out when you get home.
Finally, the number-one point everyone we talk to makes about basic AU survival is: water. Las Vegas is in the desert, remember, and even though there are fountains and dancing aquajets and canals everywhere you go, that arid climate is only slightly more hospitable than the inside of a clothes dryer. Things like moisturizer and lip balm may turn out to be life savers for you. Many hotels will provide humidifiers for your room, if you ask. And, this, above all else – drink lots of water. Every chance you get. First thing in the morning, pour yourself a glass or two and guzzle it down. Have a couple with every meal. Take a bottle with you wherever you go. And drink some more before you go to bed.
This is not only important because of the dry air and the amount of hustling you’ll be doing all day, but also because you will likely be taking advantage of the copious amount of alcohol available everywhere you look. You may overdo it, you probably won’t, but either way, dehydration and any amount of hooch are not a good combination.
There are a million tips for attending AU, and a quick Google search for “conference attendance tips” or “trade show attendance tips” (two related, but different areas of focus) will help you find them. What we’ve shared here comes directly from our own experiences specifically at AU. Take it with our best wishes, and make sure to look us up when you get there.
And drink a lot of water.