Congratulations, you did it! You convinced your boss and spouse (In my case, the same person) to send you to that marketing conference in San Diego, Las Vegas, New York, or some other pleasant place to visit. Now that you’ve made the time and financial commitment to attend a marketing conference, take advantage of these hacks to make the most out of your marketing conference trip:

Your Hotel’s Location Matters

Sure, you might be tempted by the chance to upgrade to a suite at the swanky new place across town, but beware of the commute that you’re committing to. For example, someone traveling to San Diego for the Traffic & Conversion Summit could book a hotel right on the beach in “nearby” Oceanside, CA. However, a hotel in Oceanside is a commitment to sitting in traffic for a minimum of an hour both ways. The Holiday Inn might not be as nice, but it will save your sanity on a 4-day trip.

Avoid Rental Cars

Most of the time, there’s no need to rent a car. Taxis and ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft allow conference goers to come out ahead and save time coming and going from the airport. If this is your first time in the city hosting the conference, you may be surprised by the scarcity of parking options (NYC) or the fact that casinos in Las Vegas are actually starting to charge for parking now!

Download The Conference App

A quick search of your app store will uncover the official app for your marketing conference of choice. These apps are great for prioritizing which speakers and booths to catch, and will also provide insight into official parties and happy hours. But don’t stop there…

Take Advantage of Twitter to Discover “Unofficial” Conference Events

Many conferences feature parties and events that aren’t officially associated with the conference itself. A quick search of the conference hashtag on Twitter can lead to a great networking experience in some of the cooler venues you’ll experience that week. See, those social media skills are paying off, after all!

Never Eat Alone

Every meal is a chance to meet someone new. You never know where you’ll meet your next vendor, client or even employer. It’s easy to spot other solo conference goers if you’re traveling alone- the badge around their neck gives it away every time.

Don’t Play Booth Games If You’re Not Really Interested

Trust us, the free swag isn’t worth the weekly sales calls levied upon you by poor unsuspecting sales reps. Stick to what you need or are interested in, and avoid getting your badge scanned without permission by turning your badge around while walking the show floor. The discouraged expressions you’ll get from vendors looking for the barcode on your badge are priceless.

Plan Meetings Ahead of Time

Don’t wing the whole conference if you can help it. Make a point to catch up with your agency, eCommerce platform, and other service providers that are on site conference week. Take advantage of the opportunity to strengthen those face-to-face relationships for greater success in the long run.

Take Notes

This should be a given, but you’d be surprised how many people sit through compelling presentations from our industry’s best and brightest with a glazed-over look on their faces. Taking notes during a hectic two-to-four day run allows you to debrief with your team later and fill in the members of your marketing team that didn’t get to come along.

Indulge in Some Great Local Food

Don’t settle for the free cold meat sandwiches at the catered conference lunch- get out and experience some of the city! For conferences in San Diego, we recommend Harney Sushi, The Fish Shop, and Snooze as our three can’t-miss restaurants. Stuck at the conference with no time to leave? Delivery apps like Uber Eats or Postmates give you local options without ever stepping foot outside the conference.

Stay in Touch

Add your new connections on LinkedIn and keep tabs on each other. You’d be surprised how many of the same people you run into over and over again. I’ve now run into a friend in Chicago, Las Vegas, Austin, and Los Angeles over the past year- and we work on opposite coasts!

What are your favorite hacks for successful marketing conferences? Leave us a comment and let us know!