The best tips to survive a big conference

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With multiple stages, countless keynotes, all-star speaker line-ups and thousands of delegates, massive international conferences are the music festivals of the business world. In fact, events like Slush in Helsinki or Web Summit in Lisbon have become must-attend events for professionals of all kinds. These events are tremendous opportunities to learn, share experiences and make new connections. And, why not? Enjoy one or two parties..

A full day at a conference of any size can be overwhelming. We’ve all felt the heat from rushing from talk to talk, gulping down fast food and being bombarded with brochures and businesses cards, all whilst sizing any opportunity to network and make new connections.

Do you have the right strategy to survive a big international conference and yet, enjoy the fun perks? Here are our tips to making the most of your next industry conference… and stay sane to tell the story. Learn how to survive a big conference.

How to survive a big conference

Photo: Slush Helsinki 2016 / Sami Heiskanen
  1. Be an early bird. Most conferences offer discounts for early registrants, so confirm your travel plans as soon as possible to optimize your budget.
  1. Book your accommodation early. The extraordinary number of delegates and attendees will max out the hotel capacity of the host city. Make your hotel reservations early so you can choose where you want to stay. Pro tip: Hotelzon’s search features will help you locate hotels near conference center and other points of interest. If you’re already a Hotelzon customer, you can make a booking here.
  1. Claim your badge one day before the event. Find out whether you can collect your conference badge in advance. This way, you’ll avoid lines at the venue entrance and the risk of missing the first speakers of the day.
  1. Download the official event app. With the app you can plan your agenda and get useful info about the event. Some apps might also give you the opportunity to learn more about other delegates and even set up networking meetings.
  1. Prioritize, go with a plan… and accept that things never go as planned.  FOMO? Fear of missing out? Don’t fret. Many interesting sessions and keynotes will overlap, so prioritize beforehand and make a list of your top goals.
  1. Have conversation points ready. Intimidated by networking events? Networking is an acquired skill, so rehearse a few strategies. Here are some tips.
  1. Don’t just follow the herd. Sometimes the less popular sessions are more productive and fruitful.
  1. Use breakfast as a meeting opportunity. Many potential business connections will also stay at the same hotel. Why not to squeeze a meeting during breakfast, so you don’t have to modify your conference schedule.
  1. Enjoy. Side events, coffee breaks, parties… Despite the packed agendas, there are plenty of occasions to relax and enjoy the show. Less formal moments usually spark bounding business connections.


Top photo by Slush Helsinki 2016 / Jussi Hellsten