Monday, August 04, 2008

Conference Critique—The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

The shuttle from the airport worked out well, except I had a hard time finding it, but once I did, it was cool. They had my reservation and even though I’d arrived several hours after “my appointment,” I got on one right away. As usual, several other passengers were headed for the Marriott, so I immediately slipped into conference mode. Strangely, I find that those new faces you meet on the shuttle somehow never again show up during your conference experience! Weird.

Hotel check-in was quick, easy, and painless. The room was nice except unlike other conference hotels, I didn’t have any view whatsoever. And the desk was kinda too high. I would have blogged more from the conference, but typing on my laptop was a pain.

The Marriott’s location was superior! Just steps in any direction, you could find a Rite-Aid to replace the glasses you somehow lost at the Chick Lit party, or a cafe to grab a quick meal. And, of course, BART was just a convenient block away, so you could get lots of places from there (including the Indian casino across the bay in Richmond, FYI).

My only gripe about the hotel involves aspects of its layout. First, the lobby bar was kinda dark and closed-in (as opposed to, say, the open, spacious bar in Dallas). The workshop areas were spread out over several floors, and MANY rooms were too small. I had to walk out of a couple “must-sees” on my list because I didn’t wanna stand (or sit on the floor) for two hours. And because of the aforementioned several floors thing, there was less opportunity for running into people for a quick chat. Then there was the problem of chairs being attached to each other. I understand that makes for a more orderly appearance, but people were WAY too squished together.

Speaking of the workshops…okay, I KNOW a lot of authors, agents, and editors aren’t professional speakers, but…well, let’s just say, it’s truly hit or miss on the workshops. I thoroughly enjoyed Blake Snyder, and a couple of others, but let’s leave it at that.

Oh, wait. One more gripe about the hotel. Oops. Make it two. Out of the seven conferences I’ve been to, the food at this one had to be the worst. And, geez…the price of drinks??? The tab for one round of two vodka tonics varied from $20 to $25. Ouch.

Now, the bar on the 39th floor had the extra added attraction of its incomparable view. Worth the price of drinks, as a matter of fact. But often very crowded and noisy (they really didn’t need to pipe in the booming nightclub music).

As far as organization-type issues, RWA nailed it this year. Registration went quickly, and most events seemed seamlessly smooth. As y’all know, I didn’t pitch, so I have no idea how that worked out, but I didn’t hear any complaints. The awards show was a hoot, and Suzanne Brockmann was a GREAT emcee.

A new wrinkle in the schedule. The AGM was in the morning, followed by the PAN and PRO retreats and other workshops in the afternoon. Have to say I prefer the reverse cuz it kinda leaves an afternoon free. Also, there was no welcome reception. I wouldn’t have thought I’d miss it, but I didand I spoke to several others who echoed the same sentiment. After all, it’s the one time you can truly mix and mingle in a relaxed setting.

I’m sure I’ll think of other stuff to say about the conferencey’know, as my brain clearsbut for now, I think I’ve hit the highlights. Tomorrow I'll post some pictures.

All in all, it was a great conference in a gorgeous city, and I can’t wait for D.C.!!!!!!

1 comment:

Liz Falkner said...

Glad you had a good time! I can't wait to hear more of your tidbits. I am planning to order the conference mp3s again this year so I am also interested in hearing the workshops you really liked.

Love the post!