Practical Ecommerce

Notes from an industry conference

When my ex-husband traveled to industry conferences, leaving me at home with the kids, I considered him lucky. He would pack his suit, underwear, and toothbrush in 15 minutes or less, and walk out the door. He had no worries about the house, the dog, or the kids. While at home working and taking care of our three kids, I envisioned him sitting in the sun, being wined and dined, and occasionally listening to an interesting speaker. He could relax in a luxurious hotel room and actually watch a movie without interruption.

After owning and running my own website for over eight years, I finally decided that it was time for me to attend an ecommerce conference. The planning began in December. I had to sign up for the conference, locate flights, and locate an affordable hotel. Being that I am now a single mom, I had to make childcare arrangements and dog sitting arrangements. The week before I left town, I made sure my clothes for the trip were picked up from the dry cleaners, caught up on laundry for my daughters so they would have clean clothes to wear, wrote out the activity schedule for the kids, prepaid all bills so none would be late, stopped the mail delivery, and spent quality time with my daughters since I would be gone almost a week. In addition, I connected with several vendors who were going to be at the conference, to discuss working together. Whew. I was already exhausted by the time the plane took off. Well, at least when I arrive in San Antonio, I would get to relax. Or so I thought.

Once I checked into my beautiful hotel room with a breathtaking view, I headed down to the conference center. I perused the vendor center. Vendor upon vendor was ready to tell me all about the latest and greatest technology in the ecommerce industry. It was overwhelming. Some ideas were exciting and feasible; some didn’t apply to me. Some were amazing ideas, but too costly for my company.

I was excited to finally attend the educational sessions. I walked into the huge conference room and found a seat at a table, whipped out my notepad, and listened. Finally it was time for lunch. I was starved. I entered the banquet room and had nowhere to sit. I was by myself in a room with approximately 1,000 people. I meandered to a seat at a table, asked if it was available, and introduced myself. Lunch was awkward. We all talked about our companies, where we were from, and where we were staying. Some of us exchanged business cards.

After lunch, the afternoon was filled with more sessions and more browsing in the vendor hall. Finally, the day was over. I went back to my beautiful room to relax, but there was a BBQ to attend. It sounded fun. I put on my cowboy boots and two-stepped over to the bus that took us to the venue. There was more networking on the bus. Upon arrival at the dude ranch, I was approached by more vendors trying to entice me into purchasing their products. After finally taking the bus back to the hotel, I got to my room at about 11:30 p.m. I fell asleep as soon as I laid down.

Over the next days, I experienced more of the same. I did meet directly with a few potential partners. I did learn a lot of information and can’t wait to get home to implement new ideas. I made many new connections and met inspirational and exciting people.

But it was definitely work. Attending an industry conference is a different type of work, but it is still work. I am in the airport awaiting the first of my two flights home as I write this. I cannot get home soon enough. What about the luxurious hotel room? All I did was sleep there. What about the gorgeous pool and fitness center? I didn’t even see them, except from my window.

I am exhausted. I am behind at home. I am behind at the office. I miss my kids. Am I glad I went? Absolutely. Will I want to go to the next conference? Absolutely. Do I think it was a vacation, like I used to think? Absolutely not.

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Comments ( 3 )

  1. Jordan Lindberg March 31, 2014 Reply

    Hi Melissa! Good overview of the experience! I attend 3 to 5 industry trade events every year, and your description of what the experience is like is good. I would encourage everyone who is involved in the ecommerce industry to attend an event once in a while … it’s a great way to keep up on the many changes taking place all the time.

    • Matt Ledford April 15, 2014 Reply

      Funny how the perspective changes when we really travel and do the ‘conference thing’!!

      I’ve attended IR and IRWD almost every year for years (I think I even met Jordan Lindberg IN PERSON at one of them!)

      Perspective is one of the best results of going to conferences.

      A desire to change something for the positive when you return is a great result that will likely pay dividends.

      One of my favorites- Like your favorite pair of comfy shoes, is the greater appreciation for the everyday that you miss when you are away!!

  2. Melissa Chelist March 31, 2014 Reply

    Totally agree Jordan! I learned a lot and brought the new knowledge back to my business. I can’t wait to start the new technology on my website.

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