Things you Should Know Before you go to Alt Summit

Things you should know before you go to Alt SummitCan you believe it?!  Alt Summit is next week!  This will be my second year and I am even more excited to go this year.  I’m so looking forward to learning and being inspired by the tremendous talent that will be there but also to meeting a bunch of my online friends in person!  AND I am decorating one of the Friday night mini parties (with Lauren, Jenny and Alexandra).  I belong to a Facebook group that is for Alt attendees and some questions have come up about what to expect at the conference so I thought I would try to answer some of them here.  First and foremost, it is an awesome conference, you will learn a ton and meet a gazillion new people.  You will leave feeling super pumped about where you are headed and super inspired to get to work on your blog.

Tips for attending Alt SummitComing to Alt can be kind of scary.  I know a number of my first-time friends are nervous.  There is so much hype that we feel like we won’t measure up or “fit in”.  I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable I felt the whole time I was at Alt.  While there are blogger celebs (some legit, some in their own heads), 99% of the people who attend are the nicest people you will ever meet in your whole entire life.  That goes for attendees, brands and speakers.  And if you are coming by yourself, know that you will meet gals in Salt Lake that you will end up spending the entire conference with.  Also, it is really fun figuring out who will be there ahead of time.  Search the #altsummit hashtag on twitter and instagram and start interacting with people before you even get on the plane!

business cards at Alt SummitHere is some straight talk about business cards.  This is one of the things that freaks most people out.  There is a lot of talk about bringing unique business cards with you.  First, you will meet a ton of people but there is no chance you are going to be able to meet all 600 people at the conference.  I was more than fine with about 100 cards.  I didn’t give nearly that many away but I knew they were back in the room if I needed more.  Second, I’ve been hearing grumblings from people about the “special” cards and how they actually don’t like to get them.  By special, I mean they are oversized, come with something, are messy, etc. I like business cards to be normal sized.  Call me a purist but I think they are just classic.  If you want to make a “special” card that really stands out, think about bringing those just for brand contacts (although make sure they aren’t just going to throw it away because it won’t fit in their files).  Do not stress about your cards.  But you do need to have a card.  Last year there was a wall that you could post your card on and it was fun to check out what everyone did.  Don’t let this get to you.  I never heard anyone utter a negative remark when someone handed out a regular old card.

the weather in salt lake city - its coldY’all, its fracking cold in Salt Lake City.  This California girl wasn’t sure how to handle it.  The cold laughs at how ill equipped our “heavy” jackets are.  While you don’t have to spend much time outside, I just want to remind you to bring gloves, scarves, hats, etc. if you will be outside for more than a few minutes.  I had originally planned on wearing a skirt to my Wednesday night dinner but after waiting in the taxi line at the airport, realized I would probably turn in to a popsicle if I did.  Also, there is a coat check at the conference and the parties.  Don’t try to be a hero and walk across town without a coat because you think you will have to lug it around all day.  Bring it!

Wednesday night dinners at Alt SummitThe Wednesday night dinners are really fun.  They are a great way to have an extra minute with a sponsor that you feel might be a good fit for your blog.  But they are also just a great way to ease in to meeting new people and practicing your small talk.  If you don’t make a huge connection that night, do not worry.  If you don’t end up with a ton of swag, don’t let that get you down.  That is not what these dinners are about.  Also, some of the brands will have brought on a blogger “host” to decorate the party.  Some won’t.  Enjoy the dinners for what they are and try to learn from it in anyway you can.  And for most of us, this will be the only time that we will be out and about in Salt Lake City.  Take it all in, it is a beautiful town!

stuck in salt lake cityAlthough I haven’t heard too many people talk about this part of the Wednesday night dinners, Lauren and I found that we totally got stuck.  As we were leaving, we asked the hostess to call us a cab.  Because there is another large conference in town at the same time, she told us she had just called for someone else and been told that the wait was over an hour.  She suggested we walk across the street to the mall to see if it might be easier over there.  So we did.  In 14 degree weather.  They didn’t have cabs either.  So we would up sitting in the weather room of the Cheesecake Factory for about an hour.  So not awesome.  But you won’t be stranded all night.  You will eventually make it back to your hotel.

Breakfast options at AltBut where am I going to get my coffee, you say.  Last year the lobby bar of the Grand America, where the conference is held, put out a breakfast bar in the morning.  While the line was a smidge long, it moved quickly.  This is where you can grab a cup of coffee, a light breakfast, like a bagel or yogurt and get ready for your day to start.  In case your want something a little heartier, there are other restaurants on site and also a nice coffee shop right across the street at Little America.  We stayed there last  year and the walk is easy, even in the snow.  The Little America also has nice little bar where you can get bar foods like chips and salsa etc, if you need a little something extra later in the day.

Brand Lounges at Alt SummitThe brand lounges are a really awesome way to interact with the sponsors and find out how they would like to work with bloggers.  Last year, I didn’t take advantage of these on the first day.  I thought they would be there the second day as well.  And while some of the sponsors were available, a few of them changed.  So make sure you make time each day to drop in and check out what is happening.  Also, while they are handling the round table and workshops a bit differently this year, take advantage of them!  The photoshop class I took was hugely helpful and if I had gotten nothing else out of the conference I would have been ok.  They have brought in some amazing gals to host the round tables and you will have frank discussions about a wide variety of topics.  Don’t miss these!

Snacks at Alt SummitIn most of the lounge areas you will be able to find beverages and light snacks throughout the day.  So while you get lunch both days at Alt, the lounges are a great place for a mid morning snack or afternoon coffee break.  I’m a freak about food and when I am hungry, all I can think about is eating.  You will be well taken care of.  Fear not!

Alt Summit Mini PartiesMini parties!!!  They are so fun!  The parties are held upstairs at the hotel in the meeting room area.  There is a common hallway and then each party is held in a different room.  You are free to move from party to party and go back again.  Each party will have a theme of some sort.  And they have worked at spreading out a few different elements to make sure that you check each one of them out.  Some will have photo booths, some will have food, some will have bars, some will have crafts.  Like I said, I am helping with one of these and you are going to love it!  Dress is up to you.  Be yourself, be comfortable, be cute but don’t stress!  Just have fun!

Drinking in Salt Lake CityOverall at the conference, people dress pretty cute.  But it isn’t a fashion show.  Nobody won best dressed.  Last year I made sure that wear outfits that were totally “me” and I felt super comfortable the whole time.  A first impression is everything but you don’t need to get carried away.  I wore flat booties to the parties both nights because I knew I would rather enjoy myself 100% than be in pain from heels.

And if you need to bring home souvenirs for your kids, my favorite toy store of all time is right in the hotel called JouJou (see more about this store in my I think I like Salt Lake City post – link below).

Want to see more about Alt?  Check out my posts from last year:

Alt Summit is Ridiculously Awesome

I think I like Salt Lake City

Carded at Alt Summit 

 

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Best of SLC #IGTravelThursday

#IGTRavelThursdayHave you ever been to Salt Lake City?  I went last year for the first time for Alt Summit.  And I totally fell in love with the city.  These are some of the best places in the city and a few celebs sprinkled in for good measure…Where have you been that you were pleasantly surprised by?

From top left:

Lauren and I in a confetti rainstorm, The Copper Onion in downtown has the best, simple decor and amazing music,  and AMAZING artwork (top right!), the Joshua Payne Orchestra plays the Grand America Lobby Bar, Bar X was super cool and the people were so friendly, and lastly, you know, just hanging out with HGTV darlings Orlando Soria and Emily Henderson who damn near caused a blogger tornado when they walked in to the room.

Be sure to follow some of the hosts of this super fun #IGTravelThursday linky party:  Hines-Sight Blog, and Skimbaco Lifestyle

I think I like Salt Lake City

Map of downtown Salt Lake CityI love visiting new places.  Usually before I go somewhere I have scoped out what restaurants would be cool to try and where the cool shops are.  I didn’t have to do that this time thanks to Vivint, a sponsor of Alt (you didn’t think I would not mention Alt this week in a post, did you?)!  They are based in SLC and put together the best map for all the attendees to plan from.  To be honest, I didn’t think I would have any time to use it with all the conference activities but it came in to play on Saturday night.  And it turns out, I think I like Salt Lake City!  I had never really heard anyone talk about it in terms of good food or cool people so I just didn’t think anything of it.  But getting to see the small amount that I did leads me to believe that I would really like seeing more of it.  (Oh and be sure to check out Vivint’s blog for awesome content!)

The Copper OnionWe checked the map and saw what our close dining options were and then we went on-line to do some research before making out decision.  We decided on The Copper Onion after reading that it was one of the best restaurants in the city.  We didn’t know what to expect other than the menu looked darn yummy.  We rolled up without a reservation.  How amazing is that pig portrait!?

dessert at Chef's Counter at Copper OnionWe were seated at the Chef’s counter where we could watch the kitchen staff prepare all the food.  I LOVE that sort of thing.  It was really fun to watch.  I didn’t get any pictures of our dinner!  So bummed but it was phenomenal.  We decided to share a bunch of things so we could taste a bunch and it turned out to be such a good idea.  We started with these ridiculous fried potatoes, Patatas Bravas, that were coated in smokey paprika and served with a spicy aioli.  SO GOOD.  We ordered the Wagyu Beef Stroganoff to split which was beautiful.  It had these huge homemade pappardelle noodles you wanted to slurp up in a very unladylike kinda way and chunks of beef that were tender and delicious.  They have a bunch of sides to choose from and we tried their Brussels Sprouts (tossed with garlic and lemon and Warm Mushrooms.  I’m not a huge mushroom fan but these sounded amazing.  And they were!  They were tossed in a chimichurri sauce (tons of fresh herbs) and were heaven in my mouth.  I have never said that about a mushroom before.  Never.

Dessert at the copper onionSo the only fitting thing to do to finish the meal was order 3 desserts.  We tried the Chocolate Pudding that was served with a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt.  Whoa.  The olive oil was unexpected and crazy tasty.  I had been craving pie so I had to get the pecan.  It did not disappoint.  We also got the Bread Pudding with Cardamom and ricotta.

flag at the copper onionIt is one of those places that makes you super happy and super sad at the same time.  We had a great time, the staff was friendly, the atmosphere was amazing (great music!) and the food was exceptional.  So I’m very sad that we don’t have it at home.  Tear.

Bar X in Salt Lake CityNext we walked over to Bar X.  We had asked our server where we should go for a drink and she suggested this.  As we walked around the corner there was no mistaking its location.

Bar X Black and White FilmsThe inside of the bar was dark, as most are, but there were some great touches that made it totally cool.  To start, it was SUPER clean.  The doorman was totally friendly (we chatted, he was from Orange County originally) as were the bartenders.  And oh yeah, they were playing black and white movies on the TVs, well until some Neanderthal came in and asked to watch sports on one of them.  Gross.

Bar X Etiquette

I mean…

Hot cider at Bar XThis photo does not do the set up behind the bar justice.  The lighting in this bar was simple but had such a great effect.  They had yellowish backlights, which made all the bottles this amazing amber color from the liquid inside.  And every once in a while there was a green bottle that added a nice touch of visual interest.  SO well done but totally laid back.  You got the feeling that they were like, hey, this would look cool and did it.  I had to lighten up this photo a bunch to share the crock pot they keep of wassail (usually made with wine, fruit juice and sometimes brandy – not sure what is in theirs).  I just think that is so great.  So perfect for the bar, town and weather.  We decided to try out something with whiskey and the bartender really worked with our tastes to create something for us.  I loved it!  They use good liqueur and use fresh juices to make classic cocktails in a modern and delicious way.  And the bartender had a bow tie.  The staff was super friendly.  I love this place.

Bar X CoasterAnd as I was looking up to see if their site mentioned what was in their wassail, I came to find out that this is actually owned by Ty Burrell from Modern Family.  Apparently he divides his time between Utah and LA and helped turn this old seedy bar in to this new version.  Well done, Phil Dunphy.

Patterns of Alt SummitSince we are totally old and started out our night at the early bird dinner time we still wanted to hang out more after our drink at Bar X.  So we headed back to the Grand American for a night-cap.  I wonder if all these prints made anyone dizzy?

Joshua Payne OrchestraAs we walked in (Oh my gosh I find myself getting all excited about this band just writing this!) I heard live music.  We headed first to the restroom and half way there I realized what I was hearing.  It was Regulators by Warren G done instrumentally.  What!?!  It sounded amazing.  So we grabbed the couch that was open by the band and listened to the Joshua Payne Orchestra for the next half an hour.  Consider me a fan.  They went on to play White Lines, a little Radiohead and Bittersweet Symphony.  Oh and one of them was from Orange County.  I think most of the people in Utah are really from Orange County (including the lovely Brittany from The House that Lars Built).

Joshua Payne Orchestra CdAnd then I realized they sell CD’s and promptly bought one.  There is some original music on there but also some MIA and 99 Problems (It’s your boy!).  Why can’t they be in Orange County?!

Jou Jou Toy Store in SLCAnd if you are ever in SLC you have to go by the Grand America Hotel to the world’s best toy store, Jou Jou, “a curious boutique for toys and treats” (watch the video!)  We walked by that store twice a day to get to the conference and finally went in on our last day.  Mind blown.

Monster wall at best toy store everAs you walk in there is an entire wall of framed video screens.  Each one has a different monster in it and they all move and talk and it is mesmerizing.  There are other interactive areas of the store that kids would love and it is worth checking out just for the kids to see it.

robot suitcases from best toy storeMy pictures do not do this store justice.  I don’t know who does the buying but it is insane.  Unique toys, gifts, candy – stuff you don’t see everywhere.

water gun pillow I wished I had room to fit this water gun pillow in my suitcase to bring it home to my boys.  I love it.  This would be the store I would always go to if I needed to buy a kid’s gift.  They also had a fantastic book area and right away I spotted our faves by Calef Brown.

So I think I really like Salt Lake City.  It is also home to Skull Candy and Axl’s Closet so it must be pretty cool.  I called my girlfriend who’s in-laws have a house in Park City the minute I got home.  She invited my family to go with them sometime.  Score.  Are you an SLC fan?  What else do I need to see if I go back?