Can 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.
Coming 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!
Here 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.
Y’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!
The 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!
Although 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.
But 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.
The 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!
In 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!
Mini 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!
Overall 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: