Tag Archives: travel

How to Balance Work and Life During Conference Season

19 Apr

conference seasonConference season is in full swing, and I’m excited to see old faces and meet new ones. No matter your role at these events, they begin before they even start. In other words, you’re preparing for your conference days, weeks and even months ahead of time. If you’re sponsoring, you’re creating materials, promotion strategies, and booth swag. If you’re speaking, it’s all about writing and rehearsing a killer presentation. (Always strive for your next presentation to be better than the last.) If you’re attending, you want to make the most of your time, and create your own agenda. You want to find out who will be there, so you can schedule key meetings, register for the best parties, and attend the most relevant sessions.

Preparing for the Conference

Before all of this, you have to determine if you can attend. Is there too much happening at work? Can your significant other hold the fort with a smile? Attending a conference doesn’t just affect you, it affects the people around us. We’re out of the office and need coverage. We’re away from home, and need someone to get the kids off the bus, walk the dog, and mow the lawn.

The decision to attend events may not always be our choice, but when it is, there’s a lot to weigh. I always talk to my husband first, but I have a few key events that I love to attend each year, and we plan them in advance. We have a shared Google Calendar that we block with each of our favorite events — personal and professional — so that we can cover and support each other.

During the Conference

During the show, you’re completely enveloped in that world around you. From expo halls, to sessions, to parties, it’s a whirlwind of people and events. You’re sitting, standing, walking, and walking…and walking. Sometimes you forget to eat or drink for hours, and you can’t remember the last time you sat down, went to the bathroom, or had a drink of water.

With session after session, there isn’t much down time to check in at work or call your family. You could easily go the entire event without contacting either of them. However, it’s important to make time for both. My agenda may be packed with all of my favorite sessions, but I’ll skip one or two to use those 45 minutes to check work email, talk to my coworkers, and make sure I’m touching base.

Typically there’s a small break between breakfast and the start of sessions in the morning. There’s also a small break after the sessions are over for the day, and before the evening activities. I use this time to call and text my husband. I love to hear the voice of my kiddo, and the bark of my dog. I make sure my husband is well, and I hear stories about his day. These breaks are crucial, and while my husband would understand if we didn’t speak for the show’s duration, I truly want to make time for this.

After the Show

Once the event is over and you’re en route home, reality starts to flood back in. Your notepad is full, your iPhone is dead, you’ve got a big bag of laundry to do, and somehow, you have to digest the information overload, also known as your conference experience. Even more, you have to share your insights with your team, and apply them. Hopefully the conference was engaging, exciting and inspiring, so that you’re enthusiastic about bringing all of your new found knowledge to the table.

I use the plane ride home to start crafting my next steps and notes. If I lack WiFi, I draft emails and blog posts in Word docs, and I plan the meetings that I need to schedule, including the agenda and who should attend. After a few hours of this work, I take a look at my phone and scroll through pictures and videos of my family. It psyches me up for the moment I drop my bags on the kitchen floor and open my arms for a running hug from my son and dog. Then, over a glass of wine, my husband I recap the week, sharing pictures and stories. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, and after a long conference, that couldn’t be more true.

How to Use Social Media When on Vacation

21 Oct

social media vacation tipsWhile we work hard in our professional lives to balance our social media postings and sharing, this seems to all go out the window as soon as we take off toward our destination.

Vacationers are so excited about their travels that they over-share, driving most of their followers extremely jealous and/or to the brink of an unfriend.

I just got back from a long, amazing weekend in Florida and for this trip, I kept in mind that the more social media grows, the more we need to keep our professional hats on, even when they’re in the shape of a sombrero.

The best way to do this is to remember that, just like in the business world, social sharing is a balancing act. Over-publish and you’ll lose followers. Under-publish and you won’t exist. Consider these ideas for your next vacation.

Post On Facebook Once a Day

Many brands follow the rule of 1-3 postings/day on Facebook, depending on their industry, audience, etc. This enables you to space out your content and ensure only the best of the best gets shared. It also makes it easier to engage and focus when your content is selective. Post your best vacation photo of the day on Facebook. With the photo, you can include who you’re with and check in to the location. This way, it’s all contained in one post and summed up in a sweet photo.

Space Out Your Instagram Photos

I often see a few pictures in a row from the same person in the same place. No matter how beautiful the pictures or people are, it is repetitive. Like Facebook, choose your best photos, current or past, and Instagram a few times a day. Space them out by a few hours so you’re not inundating. This way it’s easier to consume those photos of the same people in the same place. If you’re worried that you’re not posting in real time, just use the #latergram hashtag.

Check in Using the Same Social Channel

To post a picture on Facebook and then check in on Foursquare with a link to Facebook causes, well, too much Facebook. In other words, if you are already on Facebook posting a photo, check in using Facebook versus using Foursquare. This works for Instagram as well. If you’re not using a photo and just want to check in to your location, Foursquare is great for that. I tend to keep my Foursquare check ins disconnected from Facebook and Twitter unless they are super exciting. But for an airport or a beach, I skip the Facebook check ins.

Keep Professionals Channels, Professional

Twitter and LinkedIn are my go-to channels for professional, work-related content. This is true for many professionals, especially when it comes to LinkedIn. To suddenly start posting vacation updates or photos there would be disjointed and potentially unappealing to my audience. Consider the channels you use for your content and don’t post if it’s out of the ordinary.

Wrap it Up

The best way to share a trip is to wrap it up in a nice package once you’re back home. Create a Facebook or Flickr photo album, a dedicated website, a photo book or blog about it. This will be exciting to your ideal audience: your friends and family. They want to hear all about your vacation and may even want to print or share the photos. This is also a great way to remember and organize your trip. Consider this end result, and you’ll post less during your trip.

To summarize, space out your postings, consider what channels you use when you post, wrap it up neatly when you get home, and don’t check in to the same spot four times. And for those of you who don’t post at all: I am a fan. Sometimes you just need to shut it off and focus on the people right in front of you.

What tips and tricks do you have for a great vacation experience?

Using Social Media to Boost Customer Experience

27 Nov

I recently climbed aboard a giant ship the length of three football fields, with 13 decks and over 3,000 people. It was my first Carnival Cruise and with an ear-to-ear smile glued to my face, we were heading south to the eastern Caribbean.

We all do a good job of pumping ourselves up for an exciting vacation. We set countdowns (this Google countdown gadget is my favorite), buy new clothes and get the camera charged and ready (or even buy a new one, as my husband just got this Canon G12 for our trip).

But what if the travel organization was right there with you, planning for the excitement? Wouldn’t that establish a stronger relationship between you and the business? If you booked a vacation, whether it involved a hotel, cruise line, rental car or even a house boat, these organizations know who you are, when you’re traveling and even what you’re planning to do while on the vacation. For me, Carnival Cruise Lines knew this and how to capitalize on it.

From tweets…

Carnival Cruises Social Media Tweet

To email notifications…

Carnival Cruises Email Notification

To a custom web experience…

Manage my Carnival Cruise Webpage

After the cruise, they sought to keep the conversation going with blogging opportunities and photo sharing with other guests. I’ve even tweeted with my (adorable) cruise director Butch.

There are some easy ways to make connections with your customers, especially when you’re selling an exciting product, such as a vacation. Carnival boosted my excitement from a 10 to an 11 and I’ll never forget my experience with them. Have you experienced something similar?

Technology on Vacation

17 Mar

Florida, I’m coming your way.

The husband and I are planning a spontaneous camping trip to Florida. As a Type A account planner, I admit, the word “spontaneous” is not in my vocabulary. But with this smartphone society, there’s really no such thing as “spontaneous” anymore. And that’s why I’m okay with this trip. Here’s a perfect example:

The Florida State Parks iPhone App

This app is crammed with photos, videos, slideshows, GPS directions, comments and maps covering the entire state. Anywhere we want to camp, hike, picnic, geocache, take photos, explore…well, you get the idea…it’s got opportunities.

This app was made in 2010 by @sandrafriend, a Floridian with intense knowledge of the parks in her state. It covers all 160 state parks and more than 1,700 images (with free updates so it’s hardly outdated).

I’m a big UGC fan and I appreciate how user comments rule this app. It keeps it fresh and credible.

Oh, and while I’m more of the free-app-downloading type, this is worth the $2.

Check it out.

What does this all mean? It’s not just about aiding in the revelation of my inner spontaneity. Technology continues to be a part of our lives and craft who we are and how we live. And so, I’m taking this technology on vacation with me.

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