Contributor Eric Calhoun – How To Make The Most Out Of Your Convention Experiences

In my 15 years of self-advocacy, and helping others, I have found State and National Conventions both rewarding and challenging.  But if you follow these important guidelines, your stay at the convention site will be anything but.

-First, plan early.  The earlier you make your convention plans, the less likely you’ll need to cram.  This means coordination of transportation, the hotel payments, and the registration fees incurred.

-Get to know hotel personnel.  When you check in, be ready to give to them your credit card number, how long you’ll stay, and your preference for a room.  If you’re rooming with someone, let them know.  NOTE: When and if you pre-registered, you were probably briefed as to the amenities of your hotel.  Make sure that you familiarize yourself with the Convention Program when you formally register.

-As stated in your Convention Program, you are required to wear your name tag.  This is so your hotel staff gets to know you, and for voting purposes.

Now, let’s move on to room etiquette.

-Use Room Service, wherever appropriate.  This means wakeup calls, extra towels, et cetera.

-Be prepared to keep your “key card” with you at all times.  This is true when you depart the room.

Convention Pointers

-You do not have to stay in the hotel for every single General Session or special-interest presentation. Try and go out of the hotel for an hour or two.  If you have a guide dog, why not take him or her for a leisure walk?

-This ties in with the preceding paragraph, but If you know if you’re getting drowsy, go up to your room and sleep.  Your information will still be with you in your chosen medium on your side table when you wake up.

Most importantly, thank your staff when your departure time arrives.  NFB, ACB-affiliated, and organization-affiliated people want you to know that they paid thousands upon thousands of dollars for you to stay at their hotel.  A courteous word goes a long way.

For those of you attending conferences, I hope that you enjoy your time spent there and encourage others to attend as well.  Take care!

Any other tips for conferences?  Let us know in the Reader’s Forum.

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