Altitude Summit or Alt Summit as it's nicknamed, is often referred to as "THE" conference for creative entrepreneurs. Kind of dramatic, I know, but after attending this winter's conference I totally get it. It's four days jam-packed with experts there to inspire you to be more creative, purposeful and better at your business or blog. This year's event was held in sunny Palm Springs at the swoon-worthy Saguaro hotel (that was almost reason enough for me to attend). If I'm honest though, I was actually getting pretty nervous and intimidated leading up to the conference. I felt overwhelmed that I'd feel out of place and worried I would feel exhausted as an introvert facing full itineraries with non-stop networking and events. However, I can attest that it's totally worth it and Alt Summit makes it pretty easy to connect with people. They say "85% of Alt Summit attendees have come back more than once" and I can see why. The excitement, attention to details, and energy from the event was so inspiring. Here's a few tips and tricks I've found from attending my first Altitude Summit Conference:
Stay at the location:
Staying at the hotel where the conference was held made things really easy. I could quickly run to my hotel if I needed to grab something, drop off my jacket, take a short break, etc. It also allowed for extra networking time with people and sponsors. Plus, the location wasn't too shabby. The Saguaro hotel reflects an entire rainbow of colors with each retro room and door a different vibrant shade of the color sphere. The 360-degree view of skinny palm trees and the backdrop of mountains are pretty hard not to swoon over, especially at sunset. Add in a pool complete with a bar, coordinating yellow umbrellas and lounge chairs with bubbling jacuzzis right and left and you'll never want to leave. Naturally, it was a perfect location for a week-long conference for creative gals (and guys!) to mingle, learn and soak it all in.
Attend at least one keynote speaker event:
The hard thing about Altitude Summit is choosing which events to attend; throughout the day there are multiple workshops, classes, roundtables, and keynote speeches happening simultaneously and you have to pick which ones you want to attend most that day. I went into the conference really focused on making sure I got tactical information to take home, so I mostly focused on the workshops and roundtables. That being said, I'm so glad I opted to break up my schedule with a keynote speech from Geronimo Balloons and Darcy Miller! It was kind of like story time, only I left feeling really energized to approach work (what a trick). Jihan of Geronimo Balloons has about the most magical entrepreneurial story I can think of; her job is literally playing with balloons with a mission to delight people. When her company expanded and was selling balloons but not able to take part in witnessing the delight of delivering said balloons, Jihan found a solution: outdoor balloon installations! She also found self-reflection to improve her company through being trolled on the internet -- if that's not a happy ending in the digital age, then I don't know what is.
Darcy Miller is the founder of Darcy Miller Designs and the editor at large for Martha Stewart (again, NDB). She just released the book Celebrate Everything, which I can't wait to pick up a copy of and use some of her ideas for my next girl's night or book club. I loved her tips about thinking outside the realms of convention and harnessing the creativity you had as a kindergartner to host special and thoughtful events. So, do yourself a favor and choose at least one keynote speaker to enjoy at the next Alt Summit, if only to delight yourself!
Do the bonus activities!
One fun group activity for this year's Alt Summit were tours around Palm Springs. From an Instagram tour with photographer Justin Hackworth to a trip to the Cabazon Dinosaurs structures (with donuts) to brunch and shopping, there were plenty of options to enjoy something extra fun and extra "Palm Springs". I happily opted for the mid-century modern house tour with Robert Imbers and it was a delight to see such unique architecture. One thing I didn't know about Palm Springs was the amount of celebrities who lived/currently live in Palm Springs since it's a close spot to Hollywood, but just far enough to get away, something that was especially relevant when actors were under stricter contracts with studios back in the early movie days. Now I'm guessing it's more about having a space for parties after Coachella, but it was still magical to see the former digs of Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis, etc. Fun fact: Leo Dicaprio currently owns what was once Dinah Shore's home and you can rent it out for a cool $4,000 a night.
BRING A NOTEBOOK, PEN AND FORGET WHAT YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW:
Conferences, if anything, are great for inspiration. I left with pages of notes and thankfully, a lot of the information was very practical and specific to apply in approaching my blog and social media. There's so much marketing/PR noise it can be hard to cut through it, but it's actually really easy to do when you gather some top industry professionals and they give you no-nonsense advice. That's what makes conferences worth the money (although Alt Summit packs extra punches to ensure your experience is memorable every single day). Even still, not every workshop was totally on point with what I needed, but that was usually a result of me not researching the speaker beforehand. I definitely suggest doing a little research before deciding which events to attend. Note to self: if you're not in the wedding industry, it's probably safer to skip anything led by a wedding industry professional. I also learned to throw a lot of "do's and don'ts" out the window that I had previously heard. While there are some tried and true media techniques out there, what works for you isn't always going to work for someone else. One of my biggest takeaways: implement what I've learned (from website analytics to social media techniques) and make it work for me. Putting out something with real, strategic purpose and exploring what works is the key to growing a business or blog. Alt Summit provided a lot of the "how" and it's up to me to figure out the "why" and put in the work to make it matter.
Go to every Party (duh):
Another fun thing about Alt Summit is they like to throw parties -- which should indicate that this isn't exactly your typical conference. The first night we had a pool party with the theme "Glow" and a couple nights later we had a Task party, which I had never heard of, but oh man are they fun. Basically, we entered a giant room and in the center is a table with a huge box surrounded by paper and pens. People write tasks (i.e. go do a headstand on the stage, have a cotton ball fight, etc.) and you have to do whatever task you draw from the box. At the corners of the room were various stations of craft supplies to get crazy, a DJ, a bar (complete with sippy cups of wine so as not to spill when dancing - genius, no?), and a pizza bar. We even suited up in white paper suits to ensure our clothes didn't get dirty during a messy task. So silly and so fun. So, even if you're tired after a long day of information overload, go have some fun and let loose.
Go a day early or leave a day late:
If possible, why not make a conference feel like a vacation? We flew in a day early to have a little extra time to explore Palm Springs and I highly recommend it. Even though Palm Springs itself is quite small, there's a lot to love in the town. One of my favorite spots was The Parker Hotel, which is designed by Jonathan Adler and incredibly dreamy. Gray Malin actually stopped by to do a shoot with an elephant the very next morning after I visited and I was so bummed to miss him! On the other hand, we had much more freedom to take some photos around the hotel and that was a definite perk (especially since I was with two great photographers, Heather Selzer and Morgan Chantelle). We also enjoyed coffee at Koffi and Common Grounds, which is right down the street from Ice Cream Shoppe, there to serve your fanciful ice cream needs with flavors like rosewater and coachella dates (with an adorable store inside). Next time I'm in Palm Springs, I'd love to explore more of the architecture and design and splurge on some fancy restaurants with a side mid-century style boutique shopping. Next time!
- They recommend bringing 200 business cards, but unless you're going to this conference with an intention to viciously speed network, I'd just bring 50 or less business cards. Maybe that's just the introvert in me talking though? Ha!
- Bring snacks! They do feed you, but not quite enough if you're a serial snacker like me.
- Say hello to people around you. The nice thing about Alt Summit is that basically everyone is there to chat about what they do and why they're there. So, you've got two major conversation starters before you even meet them - tah-dah!
- Come with extra room in your suitcase -- they don't miss any opportunity to spoil you with freebies and swag!
- Practice your business/blog pitch beforehand to give you confidence before approaching sponsors at the event.
Have you ever been to an Alt Summit conference? Would you consider going?