3 Lessons Learned from Planning My #FinCon12 Experience

Over the next few days, I’ll be blogging about things I learned from FinCon12 sessions and speakers for the various sites I am involved with. This post, though, is about the logistical things I learned while planning for and attending FinCon12.

Everything we do can be used as a learning experience. Whether we?make mistakes and learn to improve, or whether we do something right and incorporate that into our lives, it’s always good to look for positive takeaways. Here are some of the things I learned from planning my experience at the Financial Blogger Conference.

Southwest Airlines is Awesome.

No, I am not being paid to say that 🙂 I had already started using Southwest a little bit more for the reasonably priced airfare, and for the fact that you can check up to two bags for free. However, I really took the Southwest love up a notch after planning my trip to Denver.

Originally, I planned to fly in on Friday. However, I joined the planning committee for the Plutus Awards, and things changed. I needed to get in on Thursday, early enough to attend the rehearsal, and to help with the event that night. I went to Southwest to change my details and discovered that the Thursday flight was cheaper. Not only did I receive a voucher for the difference in cost, but I also discovered that Southwest doesn’t charge a fee to change your flight.

Also, as a bonus, the money I saved on the new flight ended up being just enough to cover an extra night in the hotel room.

Pack Ahead of Time. Or at Least Make List.

We’re re-doing the flooring in the house, and the carpet guy came a day later than scheduled. So Wednesday night I was unable to pack. Thursday morning, after dropping my son up at school, I hurried home to frantically move some furniture and pack. The result involved me just barely making my flight after running?through the airport, just like you see in the movies. It also involved me forgetting socks (which I ended up not needing anyway, since I wore sandals all weekend), and neglecting to bring a contact case. I spent the weekend using the cups in my hotel room as contact cases.

If I had been really interested in getting those things, though, it would have been possible, even though they would have cost a little money. The 16th Street Mall (an awesome pedestrian mall) was only a couple blocks from the hotel, and had plenty of stores.

Don’t Use a Shuttle to Go from the Hotel to the Airport.

Many people found that riding the shuttle from the airport to the hotel was very beneficial. Not only is it inexpensive, but it also provides an opportunity to talk to others. One of my friends ended up talking to J.D. Roth on his shuttle ride. (I had the awesome experience of sharing a cab with JoeTaxpayer and Mike Piper of Oblivious Investor.)

I rode a cab in, but I signed up for the shuttle for my ride back out to the airport. The shuttle has to make several stops, and picks you up early. In my case, earlier than I wanted since I had to leave 15 minutes before the official end of the conference and the end of the last session. Which meant I missed Flexo from Consumerism Commentary giving his take on the future of the financial blogosphere. It was cool that I did get to spend a couple minutes with Mike Holman of Money Smarts Blog, who ended up being at the airport for a flight leaving even later than mine, but it was still irksome to leave so early.

It became even more annoying after I got through the security line, turned around, and saw Steve Chou of My Wife Quit Her Job?coming through the line. He had taken a cab 30 or 40 minutes after my shuttle left the hotel. I could have stayed longer if I’d been a little more proactive in really hammering out the logistics with Steve, especially since I spent an insane amount of time with him at the conference. (By now, he and Tom Drake from MapleMoney must be sick of me. However, they’re practically the best friends I have, and probably know more about me than anyone except my husband and my college roommates. That should tell you something about how social I am in my offline life.)

It’s all about the cab ride (save money by splitting with another attendee) back to the airport if you want to maximize your time at a conference.

Did you attend FinCon12? Do you attend other conferences? What are your best observations and lessons?

26 thoughts on “3 Lessons Learned from Planning My #FinCon12 Experience”

  1. Lance@MoneyLife&More

    I will definitely keep these in mind for fincon13! I havent really been to any conferences yet but this sounds like a good first conference for me.

    1. FinCon is the perfect conference. It’s not too big, and you can really get your networking on. Hope to see you at FinCon13!

    1. It hasn’t been announced. Denver was cool, but I kind of like the idea of continuing to move it around to a different city each year. But it does have to be affordable…

  2. I didn’t go, but will remember these for 2013! And I
    agree about the shuttles, sometimes they just pick you up way too early.

        1. Meh. Still, it would have been worth it to pay the whole fare, instead of do the inconvenient shuttle thing. So I think you still come out ahead.

  3. Good to see you as well Miranda.

    I was really annoyed at the shuttle thing. They sent me an email with the time and I really didn’t think about it much until I was on the way to the airport. I left at 11:45 and ended up waiting forever at the airport. It didn’t help that the flight was delayed.

    Martin from Studenomics was on the same flight and he left at 3pm. 🙂

    I think the end of the conference is a great time to be there, so that you can say your goodbyes (which I didn’t do) and have some time to hang out.

    Oh well – lesson learned!

    See you next year.

    Mike

    1. It’s all about the taxi, and the asking around to share the cab. Now we both know better 🙂 Anyway, good to see you, and I’ll be looking for you at FinCon13.

    1. The Financial Blogger

      Martin, do you ever go back to your room once you are off the plane?

      lesson #1: Delta don’t put oil in their engine (this is how I missed my connection)

      lesson#2: Stay with Martin, he will introduce you to everybody!

      lesson #3: Buy tickets for the Sunday night football…. the Broncos were amazing!

  4. Paula @ Afford Anything

    Southwest Airlines doesn’t charge a change fee?? That’s good to know. Sometimes I book flights even though I know that there’s a decent chance I might have to reschedule … I’ll start looking at Southwest for those flights! Thanks for that tip!

    1. I was shocked, too. I was sure I was going to have to pay a fee, and was extremely pleased not to. The open seating is a bit of a pain, but if I’m together enough to check in 24 hours ahead of the flight, I usually sit where I want.

    1. Well, anytime you’re out this way, let me know 🙂 We need at least two FinCons a year. Let’s get PT on that…

      1. The Canadian PF conference is happening in 10 days. If it was bigger and not two weeks after FINCON, it might make a good 2nd conference.

        1. I heard about that. I was actually really tempted, even though I’m not Canadian. But I write for several Canadian blogs right now, so I thought maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea. But, like you said, it’s pretty soon after FinCon.

  5. It was great hanging out with you at FINCON again, I should get out to some other conference so it’s not just once a year!

  6. Financial Samurai

    Hey Miranda!

    It was great to meet you at Fincon. Look forward to booging down with you in San Diego or SF next year!

    Best, Sam

    1. It was awesome to meet you, Sam! After seeing you online, it’s great to have a face to go with the name. See you next year!

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