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The fifth annual AWS re:Invent is right around the corner, taking place November 28-December 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Designed for AWS customers, enthusiasts and even cloud computing newcomers, the nearly week-long conference is a great source of information and education for attendees of all skill levels. AWS re:Invent is THE place to connect, engage and discuss current AWS products and services via breakout sessions ranging from introductory and advanced to expert as well as to hear the la news and announcements from key AWS executives, partners and customers. This year’s agenda offers a full additional day of content, boot camps, hands-on labs, workshops and the re:Source Mini Con—a full-day technical deep dive into topics such as Big Data, Containers, IoT, Machine Learning, Security Services, and Serverless Computing.

2nd Watch is proud to be a 2016 Platinum Sponsor and attend AWS re:Invent for the fifth consecutive year. As an AWS Premier Partner with four re:Invent conferences under our belts, we have a unique insight into what attendees can expect at re:Invent 2016.  With that, our seasoned re:Invent alumni have compiled a list of the Top Five Things to Avoid at re:Invent 2016.

1. Avoid the long lines at Registration (and at the Swag Counter!)

In previous years, the re:Invent Registration Desk was open at the Venetian on Monday & Tuesday only. This year, registration is open starting Sunday evening from 6pm-8pm, giving attendees a few extra hours to check in and secure their conference badges. In addition to the extra two hours on Sunday evening, AWS is opening registration to attendees at two new locations—The Mirage and Encore—and will remain open all week.  Of course, you can’t attend any part of re:Invent until you have your conference badge so be sure you check into Registration as early as possible.  This will also ensure that you get the size shirt you want from the Swag Counter!

Expert Tip:  This year, AWS has added an additional level of security and will be printing each attendee’s photograph onto their badge.  Don’t be “that guy or gal” that holds up the registration line because you have to have your photo taken on site.  Take a few minutes to upload your photo prior to re:Invent here.  BONUS: By uploading your own photo, you make sure to put your best face forward for the week.

2. Avoid Arriving Without a Plan:

The worst thing you can do at re:Invent is show up without a plan for how you will spend your week in Vegas—that includes the breakout sessions you want to attend.  With two new venues and a total of over 400 sessions (twice as many as 2015), more hands-on labs, boot camps and one-on-one engagement opportunities, AWS re:Invent 2016 offers more breadth and depth and more chances to learn from the experts than ever before.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out the AWS Session Planner and start selecting the sessions that matter most to you.  For the first time, AWS is offering reserved seating for breakout sessions, which means you have the chance to build a fully-customized conference calendar.  Take advantage of this benefit by adding sessions to your re:Invent calendar now.  By doing so, you will automatically have a seat reserved in your name and you can rest easy knowing you get to attend the sessions that are most important to you.

If you need some scheduling inspiration, 2nd Watch is presenting “Lift and Evolve: Saving Money in the Cloud is Easy, Making Money Takes Help” on Tuesday, 11/29. Part of the Enterprise & Migration track, this one-hour breakout session story will dive deep into the technology that allows The Coca-Cola Company to manage hundreds of AWS Accounts, hundreds of workloads, thousands of instances, and hundreds of business partners around the globe. Find it in the session catalogue by searching for “ENT206,” then be sure to add it to your AWS re:Invent calendar to reserve your seat.

Expert Tip: Be sure to download the AWS re:Invent Mobile App. The mobile app will be available approximately two weeks prior to re:Invent for iOS and Android only. For Windows phone users, there will be a mobile web version available.

The mobile app will hold your re:Invent schedule, maps from venue to venue, all other activities and reminders and will definitely help with your overall conference experience.

Lastly, when it comes to session planning, be sure to keep in mind that breakout sessions are being offered at all three venues—The Venetian, The Mirage, and Encore.  Allowing enough time to get from session to session will be key.  This year, AWS has added 30 minute breaks between sessions, but given there will be nearly 30,000 people expected at re:Invent this year, escalators, elevators and hallways are most certainly going to be difficult to navigate. As long as you don’t stop at the casino floor to your luck, you should still make it to the next session in ample time. Here are the estimated walking times between venues to help you plan accordingly:

  • Venetian to Mirage: 20-minute walk
  • Venetian to Encore: 15-minute walk
  • Encore to Mirage: 20-minute walk

For additional information about the AWS re:Invent agenda or to customize your attendee experience, visit https://reinvent.awsevents.com.

3. Avoid Sleeping In, Being Late or Skipping Out Entirely

With so many learning and networking opportunities, it’s easy to get caught up in exciting—yet exhaustive—days full of breakout sessions, hands-on labs, training sessions and of course, after-hours activities and parties.  Only you know how to make the most of your time at re:Invent, but if we can offer some advice…be sure to get plenty of sleep and avoid sleeping in, getting to sessions late or worse…skipping out on morning sessions entirely.  Especially when it comes to the keynote sessions on Wednesday and Thursday morning!

AWS CEO, Andy Jassy, will present the Wednesday morning keynote, while Amazon CTO, Werner Vogels, will present on Thursday morning.  Both Keynotes will be full of exciting product announcements, enhancements and feature additions as well as cool technical content and enterprise customer success stories.  Don’t be the last to know because you inadvertently over slept and/or partied a little too hard the night before!

Customers don’t need to reserve a seat in either of the keynotes, however, there is a cap on the number of attendees who can watch the keynote in the keynote hall. Keynotes are offered on a first come, first served basis, so be sure to get there early.

Expert Tip: If you don’t want to wait in line to sit in the keynote hall, AWS will have many options for watching the keynote in overflow rooms. If you’re still groggy from the previous night’s events, the overflow rooms are an ideal place where you can watch the keynote with a bloody mary, mimosa or coffee.

4. Avoid Being Anti-Social

AWS re:Invent is one of the best locations to network and connect with like-minded peers and cloud experts, discover new partner offerings and, of course, let loose at the quirky after-hours experiences, attendee parties, and partner-sponsored events.

Avoid being anti-social by taking advantage of the many opportunities to network with others and meet new people. AWS has some great activities planned for conference goers including the famed Totonka wing eating con, Welcome Reception, Partner Pub Crawl, Harley Ride, re:Play Party and new this year, the re:Invent 5k Run.

Expert Tip: Don’t forget to bring plenty of business cards.  With so many people to meet, opportunities to connect with peers and experts, and after-hours parties to attend, you’ll want to make sure to pack extra cards to avoid running out early in the week.  When you receive a business card from someone else, try to immediately take a photo of it with your smartphone and save it to a photo album dedicated solely to networking.  This will ensure that you have the details stored somewhere should you happen to misplace an important contact’s business card.

5. Avoid Forgetting to Pack That All-Too-Important Item

Whether you’re staying at The Venetian, Mirage, Encore or other property, your hotel room will be your home away from home for nearly an entire week.  Of course, every hotel will have in-room amenities and travel essentials, but inevitably, we all will forget that one important item that we won’t be able to live without, especially for an entire week.  Our experts have pulled together a check list to help you pack for your trip and ensure you have all the comforts of home and office during your week in Vegas.

Your Favorite Toiletries:

Not everyone is in love with the in-room toiletries that hotels have to offer in each of their suites. If you have a favorite, be sure to bring it. Here is a quick list to ensure you don’t forget something:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Shave Cream
  • After Shave
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Lotion
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Floss
  • Hair Styling Products (if that’s your thing)
  • Contact Case & Solution
  • Spare Pair of Contacts
  • Cologne/Perfume/Body Spray

First Aid:

Whether your headache or hangover cure calls for Aspirin, Ibuprophen or something stronger, it’s a good idea to pack your preferred treatment along with any other first aid remedies and prescription medications you might need. Band Aids, blister protectors and anti-histamines are also recommended.

Chapstick & Lotion:

It is the desert, after all, and with dry air circulating throughout the venues, your skin (including your lips) is bound to dry out.  We recommend bringing medicated chapstick and fragrance-free lotion (fragrances in most lotions can often dry out your skin even more!) and keeping a spare with you at all times.

Breath Mints and/or Mint-flavored Gum:

No explanation necessary.

Business cards:

This is a repeat from one of our other tips but an important one to remember, so we don’t mind mentioning it again.

Chargers & Battery Packs:

Nothing is worse than being in between sessions with a 10% cell phone or laptop battery and realizing you left your chargers back in your room. We recommend bringing at least two phone chargers and two laptop chargers: One for your room and one for the backpack or briefcase you’ll be carrying throughout the conference.  Additionally, while there will be several charging stations throughout re:Invent (and outlets on most every wall), it’s a good idea to bring a battery pack with several hours of charging time just in case you can’t find an open spot to plug in.

Water Bottle:

You will definitely want to stay hydrated throughout the week, and the tiny cups offered at the water stations just won’t quench your thirst quite the way you will need them to.  It’s a good idea to pack a water bottle (we recommend one that can hold 17 oz) so that you avoid having to refill often and have plenty of thirst-quenching liquid to keep you hydrated throughout the day.

Comfortable shoes:

Your shoes will be your saving grace by the end of each day, so be sure to bring a pair or two that you feel comfortable walking several thousands of steps in.

Appropriate Attire:

While business casual attire is often recommended at re:Invent, there can be many interpretations of what is appropriate.  Our advice is to pack clothing that you would feel confident wearing should you run into your boss or someone you wish to impress.  Jeans are perfectly acceptable in either case, but make sure to use good judgement overall when selecting your attire for sessions, dinners and parties you plan to attend.

Cash:

In addition to needing cash for meals on the go, bar tabs or that faux diamond-encrusted figurine you’ve been eyeing in the gift shop, you’ll want to bring a little extra cash if you plan to your luck at any of the casinos.  There are ATMs on the casino floors, but they typically charge a service fee in the amount of $3-$5 in addition to your bank’s own service fees.

Notebook & Pen/Pencil:

It’s always a good idea to bring a good ole’ fashioned notebook with you to your sessions.  Not only is it a fail-proof way to capture the handy tips and tricks you’ll be learning, it’s also the quie.  Think about it – if 100 people in your breakout session were all taking notes on a laptop, it would be pretty distracting.  Be bold. Be respectful. Be the guy/gal that uses paper and a pen.

A Few Final Thoughts

Whether this is your first trip to AWS re:Invent or you’re a seasoned re:Invent pro, you’re sure to walk away with an increased knowledge of how cloud computing can better help your business, tips and tricks for navigating new AWS products and features, and a week’s worth of memories that will last a lifetime.  We hope you make the most of your re:Invent 2016 experience and take advantage of the incredible education and networking opportunities that AWS has in store this year.

Last but certainly not least, we hope you take a moment during your busy week to visit the 2nd Watch Cloud Solutions Center located at booth #825 in the Expo Hall where you can explore 2nd Watch’s Managed Cloud Services, pick up a cool 2nd Watch t-shirt and find out how you can win one of two Segway Mini Pros.  We’re excited to attend our fifth AWS re:Invent and look forward to seeing you there!

-Katie Ellis, Marketing Manager

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