It's HAPPENING! It's REALLY HAPPENING! INBOUND 2022 is going to be back in person at the Boston Convention Center the first week of September! I may be slightly excited, if you couldn't tell. After a three year hiatus (thanks a lot, COVID 🙄), my favorite event of the year is back, and I'm counting down the days until it's here.
If you're headed to Boston for INBOUND for the very first time, I want to give you some tips that I've learned over the years so that you can get the most out of your trip (and also enjoy it).
Shoes are everything
The conference is long, and the space is HUGE. During your week in Boston, you'll be getting more (like a lot more) than your 10,000 steps. The right shoes are everything for this conference.
Every year I see women in heels and think to myself, "HUGE mistake." We all want to look good for a conference — you never know who you might meet — but you have to be practical as well. I always bring my two most comfortable pairs of shoes with me, and that's it. No dress shoes, nothing fancy. What you're going for here is straight survival. Your feet need to be able to keep up, and they're definitely not going to be able to do it in your stilettos or dress shoes.
No one is judging you — grab the sneakers. You'll thank me on Friday.
What to bring, what to leave
It's inevitable that you'll bring too much and be stuck lugging a bunch of things around all day, or you'll forget something. It will still probably happen to me even at my fifth INBOUND. But here are some things that you should make sure you have with you as you leave the hotel and some things to leave behind:
- Spare battery pack to charge your phone
Your phone is going to be working overtime trying to connect to the wifi and get service with so many people around. Even my iPhone 13 with a fantastic battery is going to struggle. Plan ahead and bring a battery pack. Finding an outlet isn't always easy.
- Compact and light water bottle
Something that fits in your backpack and isn't too bulky. There are plenty of places to fill up your bottle, and with as many steps as you're going to put in, you'll need the water.
The conference is very fast-paced, and you'll likely be hitting session after session after session. Bring a protein bar and other snacks to keep you going during sessions.
The coffee will be flowing all day long — it is a marketing conference, after all. If you're like me, you'll be filling your cup up after each session, but nobody wants to network with someone with coffee breath.
I've done INBOUND with no bag, with a messenger bag, and with a backpack, and the backpack is the landslide winner. Carrying everything around or putting all that weight on one shoulder all day is ROUGH. Always, every single time — opt for the backpack.
There are some really great sessions, and you'll definitely want to take notes. Tons of great content will be shared and even though slide decks will be available afterward, bring something to jot your top notes. We even prefer to have a group Slack channel to share the biggest takeaways from our sessions with our team.
This one is pretty obvious, but don't forget your pass to get in. They'll charge you to replace it!
- Light jacket
As counterintuitive as this may seem, as it's still going to be warm in Boston, and I told you to pack light, the A/C will be cranking in the convention center, and it can get downright chilly. Bring something light that can be put in your backpack if you don't need it.
- Something memorable
One of the best things that we've ever done was in 2019, we all got branded bright yellow backpacks. Everyone remembered us and even sought us out to talk to us because we stood out in the crowd. We were memorable. What can you bring or wear that gets you noticed in a sea of 20,000+ people?
- Only what will fit in your backpack
You don't need to bring everything. Less is DEFINITELY more at this conference. Bring the things on this list in your backpack and leave everything else behind.
- Coffee mug
There will be disposable cups for the coffee. You don't need your tumbler or fancy mug. It's just going to be a headache to carry around and keep track of.
Every year I see people missing great sessions or even key takeaways in a session because they're busy working. I know that it's probably not possible for most of us (myself included) to fully unplug for the conference, and we'll have to get some work done, but as much as you can, try to ignore your email and task list and truly tune into the sessions. There's a lot of great knowledge being shared.
- Dress clothes
No one is going to be dressed up. Business casual may even be a stretch for a lot of people. Dress comfortably. That isn't to say that you should show up in your pajamas, but no one is going to judge your t-shirt.
Registering for sessions
Every year there seems to be a mad rush to register for sessions. You'll be allowed to start registering for sessions at a specific date and time, and I recommend marking it on your calendar, pre-planning the sessions that you want to go to, and logging on right away to get registered. Sessions do fill up, and then you're stuck on a waitlist.
Divide and Conquer
If you are bringing multiple team members out to Boston for INBOUND, take the divide and conquer approach. Splitting up gives you the best experience and most ideas to share. It may even force you to start a conversation with someone you don't know! Plan out who will attend which sessions, when you'll meet back up, and how you'll share the different takeaways from your sessions. Splitting up will help you get the very most out of your experience.
The food trucks are awesome. Each day there will be a variety of food trucks out on the lawn. I've never gone to one that I didn't like, but my favorites have been Roxy's Grilled Cheese (the Green Munster is definitely my favorite meal out there) and Bon Me. Be sure to get in line early, though, they will sell out.
Don't be afraid to go grab food and take it to your next session too!
Fighting burn out
With such a fast-paced conference and sessions stacked on sessions, it gets exhausting — especially by Thursday and Friday. Don't feel like you have to go to every single session that you registered for. You're there to learn, but you're also there to have some fun. Take time to enjoy the conference. Check out the vendor booths, the photo opportunities, and whatever cool areas that they put together for INBOUND 2022.
And if you need to just take a half hour to just sit and do nothing — that's ok! Don't burn yourself out.
You will attend a lot of sessions over the three days, and there will be a lot of good ideas, trends, statistics, and actionable insights shared.
You can't do them all. You just can't.
Every year I tell my team to focus on the top 2-3 actionable ideas that they get from the conference. Think about what ideas you hear that would make the biggest impact and focus on implementing those when you get back home. The conference is only truly a success if you become a better, more successful marketer afterward, and the easiest way to fail at that is to think you're going to implement all of it. You just can't do it all. Pick your favorite 2-3 and execute on those. Focus will be your best friend.
Don't mess around with the keynotes
especially barack obama!
Every year there are some great speakers to hit the INBOUND stage, and this year is no different. Not only are there amazing and accomplished speakers and sessions by Marcus Sheridan, TJ Adeshola, John Lee Dumas, and more, but there are also some AMAZING keynotes, including Viola Davis, Jane Goodall, and even President Barack Obama!
While the keynotes are always packed, and you should plan to arrive early and get a good seat, the closing keynote by Barack Obama will be especially crazy. Get there early, meet your neighbors while you wait, and get ready for some great content!
Get a freakin' lobstah roll
You're in Boston! If you don't get a lobster (or lobstah depending on who you ask) roll, then you did it wrong. My favorite spot is Luke's Lobster. They have several locations around Boston. They're expensive but SO worth it. Splurge a little, you deserve it.