As people are getting prepared to depart for Orlando and the Digital Dealer Workshops followed by the 10th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition, I thought some advice from someone who’s been to 6 of the 9 previous conferences would be helpful for those first-timers. This will be my first conference as an employee of Dealer Communications so these tips are derived from my experience gained from attending as a dealer.
1. Registration: Show up early to pick up your badge. Unless you like to see and wait in a line similar to one at Disneyland, make sure to find out when registration opens and get there early. Many people show up at the last minute and end up having to wait spending time they could be using for more productive purposes.
2. Planning: (click here to print the agenda before you go.) Read the session descriptions and plan (even if it’s tentatively) which ones you want to go to. There’s not a lot of transition time from one session to the other and there’s nothing worse than having to decide in-between sessions which to go to and then having to find the appropriate room and be late to a session.
3. Dress: Dress is business casual. These is an intense day of training. Be comfortable so you can concentrate on what’s being taught. You’ll be doing stuff from 7:30am-7:30pm on the second day so make sure whatever you wear (including shoes) will work for you for 12 hours of activities. Also keep in mind that there are plenty of post-conference opportunities to network so it could even be longer.
4. What to bring: You don’t want to be carrying around 20 pounds of “stuff” for 12 hours, I promise. It will get old fast. Bring only the necessities. Pads and pens are provided at every session. Refreshments are provided throughout the day. If you feel the need to bring your laptop, remember that electrical outlets are at a premium. If I could rent them out, I’d make a fortune. Also, while the rooms do have outlets, the setups may not make it convenient to charge items while paying attention to what’s being taught. Veterans carry only what’s necessary. Keep in mind that you will be provided with a bag to carry any exhibitor information or swag that you attain. Oh, and bring lots of business cards. You’ll need them. Keep in mind that most speakers will be happy to e-mail you their Powerpoints after the conference. All you need to do is ask them after their session.
5. Round–tables: Don’t miss the Peer Networking Round-tables on Tuesday morning. This offers you the chance to meet and ask questions of your peers. We’ll have 40 tables all split into different categories for you to choose from. This is a great way for you to meet some non-competing dealer peers that you can utilize as future sounding boards and/or share information with after the conference.
6. Exhibit Hall: Don’t be afraid of it. This is a unique opportunity to explore and see what new services and products are available. Nobody likes getting 20 solicitation calls per day while they’re in their store trying to sell a car so look at this is an opportunity to get all of your questions answered (and curiosity satisfied) in one place and at the same time. I always discovered at least one new thing. Whether or not you’re looking to add something to your store, knowing what your competitors may be using is valuable information. It’s also a GREAT opportunity to collect some cool swag and enter drawings and contests for some sweet prizes. Most vendors restrict their prizes to dealers so you’ll have an excellent shot at winning just for dropping off your business card with them. By visiting them, you may also get invited to some post-conference networking event that they are hosting.
7. Networking: Another valuable activity at the conference is the ability to network with your peers. We provide several opportunities to so this during our cocktail receptions. Use this time to get to know and meet new people. The exhibit hall is also open during this time so you could use this as another opportunity to visit with the exhibitors as well as enjoy a beverage and some appetizers.
8. SCVNGR: This year we’ve partnered with SCVNGR to offer attendees a fun promotion and way to earn some cool prizes like a MacBook Air and iPad 2 (and more) to dealers and managers just for participating in this fun promotion by completing challenges to earn points. Everyone who participates can earn an extra free drink at one of the networking receptions and unlock a custom DD10 virtual badge! You can also use this promotion as an educational opportunity. It’s a way for you to explore location-based services (if you’re not familiar with them) and see how they can be used to promote interaction with your business. You can find all the information you need to participate by checking in the conference program or, if you want to get a head start, you can text “DDFUTURE” to 48696
9. Opt–in for Text Announcements & Alerts: By opting in for text alerts and announcements, you’ll be up to date on any changes to the agenda or special announcement s. This will also provide you with a mobile agenda for you to use to navigate around from session to session. It’s as easy as texting “DD10” to 48696
10. Don’t Miss A Thing: You’ll be getting a lot of information in a relatively short period of time. Some people get overwhelmed. Don’t. There are plenty of ways in which to maximize your experience. If you missed a session you wanted to hear because there were two sessions held at the same time, track down the speaker for the session you missed and I’m certain they’ll be happy to share their presentation with you. If you can’t track them down, find me and I’ll get a hold of them for you and have them e-mail you the information if I can’t connect you two at the conference.
I hope this was helpful. For first-time attendees, welcome. We are confident that not only will you return for future conferences but will bring more people from your dealership next time. For returning attendees, thank you for your support and patronage. We strive to bring you a bigger and better conference every time. Please feel free to e-mail me at arnold(at)dealer-communications.com if you have any questions you’d like answered before the conference.
See you in Orlando!