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Microsoft Ignite: 10 Tips and Tricks for Attending

by Mackenzie Ellis | Published On January 21, 2020


Microsoft Ignite is an annual conference for developers and IT professionals hosted by Microsoft. The conference normally lasts for five days and consists of presentations, white board sessions, and hands-on labs. Ignite offers great opportunities to meet Microsoft experts, MVPs, community members, and partners. Networking is enhanced through an exhibition area where vendors can show off technologies and products, ‘ask the experts’ sessions and after-hours parties. It has taken place in several locations around the world and we are excited to hear that 2020 will be in New Orleans, Louisiana!

Ignite 2019 was my second year attending Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, Florida. I have learned a couple of dos and don’ts during my journey, which I wish I had of known while planning my travels, sessions, and booth. I hope these tips and tricks serve as a helping hand during your planning stages, allowing you to have the best experience at Microsoft Ignite!

1. Microsoft Ignite conferences sell out fast.


Microsoft Ignite conferences sell out fast. Planning to attend this upcoming Ignite conference? Start planning today. General admission passes and booths will sell out before you know it. Microsoft does an excellent job of getting those on the waitlist a pass, but when your admission is on hold, so are all your other bookings. Flights and hotels book up just as fast as the conference does.

2. Check your spam mail for Microsoft Ignite emails.


Check your spam mail for Microsoft Ignite emails. Do you fall into the category of a seasonal bird that attends Microsoft Ignite every year? Are you worried that Microsoft has not sent you the registration email for your booth or general admission pass yet? You are not alone, and chances are they have! Check your spam mail around the time you are used to getting the emails.

3. Try your best to book a direct flight.


Try your best to book a direct flight. I was flying from Toronto, Canada to Orlando, Florida for Ignite 2018 and had a layover in Atlanta. Long story short, my flight was delayed, I missed my layover, and it took me 24 hours and 4 different standby lists to get on a new flight. Approximately 25,000 people are traveling to the same place in and around the same time. My recommendation: do yourself a favor and book a direct flight. P.S. Don’t forget to pick up your Ignite badge at the Orlando airport upon arrival. The badge pickup locations are clearly marked in the baggage claim area to make the first step on your Ignite journey as smooth as possible.

4. Do not worry about booking a hotel close to the conference hall.


Do not worry about booking a hotel close to the conference hall. The transportation to and from the conference at the select Microsoft approved hotels is excellent. No matter how far your hotel, Microsoft will get you to the conference in a relaxing, air-conditioned bus in a timely manner. My recommendation is to get a hotel close to Universal Studios. I personally would rather be closer to the great restaurants, shops, and activities that City Walk has to offer. Most importantly, by getting a hotel closer to Universal, you are walking distance for Microsoft’s Thursday night event at Universal Studios when there is less transportation provided.

5. The keynote.


If you would like to see Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella live, get to the conference hall early on day one. The keynote presentation at the start of Ignite is one that everyone looks forward to hearing. If you would like to get a seat in the live viewing room with Satya, I would recommend showing up no later than 8:00 AM. Not to worry, there are various other rooms where you can watch the keynote being streamed, and seating is no issue.

6. Wear good walking shoes.


Wear good walking shoes. The Orange County Convention Center is a massive building. In fact, it is multiple buildings. It is important to consider where your sessions will be and allow enough time to get from one to the other. Microsoft does a good job of keeping specific Microsoft products (Teams, Azure, Dynamics, PowerBI, etc.) in one section of the conference hall but if you are someone that wants to learn a touch about everything, prepare to walk.

7. Dress for the temperature change.


Dress for the temperature change. If you are someone like myself, traveling from a colder climate, you may be thinking this will be a balmy vacation heading to Orlando, Florida. Think again; you will be spending all hours of the day inside the conference hall. The conference hall is an air-conditioned building that, some would say, is kept cooler than usual. I would recommend dressing in layers since when you go outside, it will be a drastic difference in temperature.

8. Make time in your schedule for The Hub.


Make time in your schedule for The Hub. The Hub is a great spot for meeting new people, talking with Microsoft MVPs, learning hands-on about new features being released, and touring around all the booths Microsoft partners have spent a lot of time putting together. It is important to plan breaks in your schedule to take advantage of what Ignite is all about -- networking and hands-on learning. If you are like me and heading to Ignite with a checklist of questions or clarifications points, The Hub is where you will get a lot of your answers. Most importantly, this is where you will find ComputerTalk’s booth for all of your contact center and omnichannel questions!

9. Tips for sponsoring a booth.


Tips for sponsoring a booth. Before attending Ignite, sit down with your team and assess which types of leads you would like to get from Ignite -- quantitative or qualitative. For quantitative, the key to success is having a great giveaway. You will be surrounded by a culture of people that love anything free. Booths that were giving away something as simple as a speaker and drawing names once or twice per day would have hundreds of people surrounding the booth. For quantitative, I would not bother spending a lot of money on your booth. The smallest booth version that Microsoft offers will suffice. If people have planned to come by to speak to you, they will find you. Focus your time on where, when, and how you can book one-on-one meetings. For the qualitative folks, the pre-Ignite reach outs are going to be the most important. If you will be scheduling meet-ups at your booth, don’t forget to have chairs and a meeting area. Anytime an attendee can get their feet off the ground, they will appreciate it.

10. Get involved.


Get involved, socialize and make the week one you will always remember. Microsoft Ignite is a work hard, play hard environment. The sessions are great and the knowledge you gain will be overwhelming. The real value I have gotten out of Ignite is the relationships I have made. If you have questions around the Microsoft stack, you are probably not alone. Attend the social hours in The Hub, stop by the booths, chat with the Microsoft MVPs and attend as many of the after-hours VIP events you can. You have one week to absorb as much knowledge as possible, resolve workplace productivity, and come back to your team with a solution. Building relationships and making connections will not only make Ignite one to remember, but it will allow for further learning and exploration outside of the conference.

Will you be going to Ignite 2020? Send us a message – we’d love to meet you there!

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