8 insider tips for AWS re:Invent first-timers
Get ready, cloud community – AWS re:Invent 2023 is right around the corner. We’ve got all sorts of good stuff planned, like live booth demos, speaking sessions with CloudFix experts, and as always, the best swag on the floor. But even as re:Invent veterans, we realize that an event of this size can be a bit overwhelming.
That’s why we sat down with Rohini Gaonkar, Principal Developer Advocate at AWS, to get an insider’s take on navigating an event of this scale. You can watch the entire livestream episode here, or read on for some quick takes on first-timers’ most asked questions.
1. With so much to do, how should you allocate your time at AWS re:Invent?
With 50,000 attendees and seemingly endless things to do, it can be tough to decide where to go and when. From the Expo floor to networking events to all the interesting speakers, what’s the best strategy for allocating your time? Here’s Rohini:
This is sage advice. Understand your priorities. Do you want to learn more about a particular topic? Meet certain people? Build connections with specific people, teams, or vendors? The important thing is to know why you are there and make your plan based on that. As Rohini said, if you wake up in the morning at re:Invent without a plan, “you’re already lost!”
2. But there are so many options! How do you stay focused on your priorities?
Let’s be real: re:Invent is huge. Not only does it attract 50,000 people, the “campus” is basically half of Vegas. Start with the campus map to get the lay of the land, then listen to this clip for some context on the sheer scale of this event.
Looking at the 3D Google Earth view, you can get a feel for how big these hotels are and how it can take a tremendous amount of time to get from one hotel to another (not to mention all the stores, restaurants, poker machines, roulette wheels, and everything else vying for your attention along the way.) It’s easy to get distracted and forget why you’re actually there. Here’s how Rohini stays focused on her objectives:
3. Any tips on starting the day with breakfast?
Glad you asked. I’m not a breakfast person myself, but Rahul and Rohini need a warm breakfast in the morning – and it’s not always easy to find. They recommend trying the Expo for a fast morning meal, or if that fails, look for smaller hotel food courts. If your hotel room or AirBnB has a microwave, invest in something quick and easy that you can heat up before you head out.
4. More importantly, coffee. What’s the insider scoop on staying caffeinated and hydrated?
This one is closer to my own heart. Breakfast: optional. Coffee: mandatory. Unfortunately, the Las Vegas coffee situation has a scaling problem (insert reference to AWS’s scaling capabilities here). There are only so many Starbucks, so if that’s your deal, prepare to wait 20-30 minutes.
If you’re not a coffee snob, you can always go with hotel room coffee, or swing by the Expo, where they have bulk drip coffee. While you’re there, stop by the CloudFix booth and say hi.
In addition to coffee, you need to stay hydrated! Between the air conditioned conference halls, the dry outside air, and the huge amount of talking (and walking) you will be doing, it’s easy to get dehydrated. I find it convenient to have a couple of these hydration packets nearby. You add them to water and it adds some salt and electrolytes to make sure you can stay on your feet. And of course, a good refillable water bottle is essential.
5. Are there any issues with connectivity?
There is WiFi throughout all of the hotels and the network SSID and password will be printed on the back of your badge. However, with any large gathering of techies, bandwidth will be at a premium. This is especially true at large gatherings like the keynote. If you are coming in from overseas, you may want to get a SIM card while you’re here.
6. What are the most important things to pack for AWS re:Invent?
The most important item in your suitcase will be good shoes that you can comfortably stand and walk in all day long. Here’s Rahul with a cautionary tale of poor footwear choices:
Some folks, such as my friend Aaron Hunter, put some serious thought into the shoes they bring to reInvent:
— Aaron Hunter (@aaronshunter) October 31, 2023
Even Adam Selipsky, AWS CEO, is doing some shoe-related planning:
— Adam Selipsky (@aselipsky) November 7, 2022
It may be hard to match Aaron on style points, but you can at least be comfortable. I’m going to be rocking my favorite pair of Brooks, in orange of course!
7. Can’t I just get rides to and from places?
Alas, the cab/Uber/Lyft situation is similar to the Starbucks situation: too many people, not enough supply. The cab pickups and dropoffs get completely saturated with traffic and are quite far from the interior of the hotel where you need to be. Unless you’re able to make special arrangements, you’re going to be pounding the pavement.
8. How can I come to grips with the crushing reality that I can’t do it all?
I get it: FOMO is real. With so many events, talks, parties, afterparties, discussions, meetups, and more, the truth is that you WILL miss stuff at AWS re:Invent, and honestly, you just have to be okay with that. Here’s how I avoid the dreaded Fear of Missing Out:
For Rohini, avoiding FOMO goes back to her initial recommendations about prioritizing your goals. If you know what’s important to you and why you’re there, it won’t sting as much to miss a few other things that sound fun.
To sum it up: Make a plan. Prioritize. Pack good shoes. Be okay with average coffee and missing a few things. And of course, don’t forget to have fun and meet people! I’ll leave you with one final clip, in which Rahul reminds us that re:Invent is the perfect time to connect with AWS product teams. If you have an AWS Technical Account Manager (TAM), reach out to them – they’re there to help.
We’ll see you at booth #1529– happy re:Invent!