MVP 2013 Global Summit

In my previous posts I provided a couple of tips based on my experiences from previous Summits. I already mentioned that not all things are the same for each of the Summits. This is also the case for the 2013 edition of the MVP Global Summit.

One of the things that struck me most this year was that for me and a huge group of others there are no sessions scheduled at Microsoft Campus. Instead this year they decided to keep a large group of MVP’s in Bellevue and scheduled a lot of the sessions in the Hyatt conference rooms.

So what does this mean for MVP attendees? Well first of all, you won’t see a single thing of the Microsoft areas. For me that’s not so much of a problem, I’ve seen most areas and been to many of the developer buildings, lunch areas, conference rooms etcetera.

For new MVP’s it is however a sad thing, a setback maybe. You probably expected to see a lot of Microsoft’s working areas for the first time in your live and now they just ‘canceled’ that for you!

To solve that, and you probably wanted to do some shopping in the Microsoft Company Store (the store where employees and guests can buy Microsoft hard- and software at cost price, not the Microsoft Store in the mall) you now must pick your time to leave the Bellevue area and hop on one of the shuttle busses to the Campus area. The bus will stop at the education center, building 92 from the top of my head, close to Commons The Mixer lunch area.

By doing so you opted to cancel some of the sessions and probably spend your time on driving to the Microsoft Store, do some shopping and use the option that allowed you to spend YOUR OWN money in the Store and drive back again. Downside is that you lost two to three hours of your sessions time by doing so.

The education center (store and guest visitor center) is still not in the center of the ‘real’  campus area. If you want to explore more of the Campus area you can hop on to one of the shuttle busses that go to Building 36, the other conference center more in the middle of Microsoft Campus.

Driving over there will give you a good impression on how buildings are arranged and their environment. Without sessions scheduled -inside- the work areas you won’t however get the ‘feel’ of it.

Despite the relocation of the sessions to Bellevue for many of us the MVP Global Summit still is a great place to be, to meet your ‘old friends’ and connect and make some ‘new’ friends. But most of all, sharing all sorts of technical geek stuff just is the best!

Oh, and a new tiny -but important- tip:

Check the time on your alarm clock in your hotel room! This morning I woke up one hour early as the clock of the alarm was one hour ahead of time. I never noticed it last night when I set my alarm time. Maybe it was still set to Daylight Savings Time. Oh well … there is a benefit to that and that is that I now had an extra hour to slowly get up and do some extra things and read some more before the breakfast room opened.

What we learned: … Check your alarm clocks for the correct time!

Enjoy the remaining days at the MVP 2013 Global Summit!

PS: Another sad thing is that, as I can see it so far, there probably are not enough Surface Pro 128 devices available to bring one home 🙁

2013 MVP Global Summit Tips IV

So far we have seen in the 2013 MVP Global Summit Tips series what it is in general in Part I, a very important section on how to get around and what to use for transportation when you arrive at the airport in Part II while Part III covered some information about hotels, where to stay and how to get at your locations where the sessions are planned.

This section, part IV, is trying to cover some topics around finding your way in your ‘free’ time. Where to go and maybe get something to eat if you didn’t already get enough from eating the session snacks, welcome party food etc. etc.

Party Time

Besides interacting with your Product/Program Group the MVP Global Summit is all about networking, meeting new people. Other MVPs or Microsoft employees and maybe some local contacts.

The first and most obvious option at the MVP Global Summit are the scheduled evening events put together by the MVP Program. In general at an MVP Summit there are three types of evening events where you will get the opportunity not network and meet others that you can find in your schedule planner:

Welcome Reception

The Welcome Reception is in general planned at the first evening of the Summit. They will provide you with enough food and drinks to get around so although it is not staged as a full dinner you probably won’t feel the need to get out and have -another- eating event that night. This first event is mainly meant to be a social event to find others from your country, expertise or whatever works for you.

Product Group Dining

Another event is highly depending on the Product Group of your expertise. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of different events, some smaller events if your PG is a small team. Maybe going to a restaurant and have a PG dinner with members of the team. Or bigger dining areas are shared among more than one Product Group. You can imagine that groups like the Developer Division or the Windows group are large enough to fill up places like The Commons Mixer building and have a huge social event with just the developer geeks or the Windows dudes. It’s hard to tell you anything around these events as they are all in different locations, on and off campus, and with complete different groups of people. Just wait and see what is going on in your expertise area. Maybe nothing … if that’s the case there are plenty of other options to get around in the Bellevue area.

MVP Party

The third, and main event is often the MVP party. A large venue to go to with -all-, yes -all- attendees and a lot of PG members from Microsoft. These events are never the same, sometimes (how can’t it be after 20 years of MVP) the same venue but food, music and fun things to do are never the same. This is the main planned event to have fun after a full day of information and listening.

Party Transportation

So, you had a couple of drinks while eating … should you hire a cab? No! Same as with the sessions transportation between the event venues and hotels (at least the hotels available and booked through the MVP site) are all arranged for. You can just drag your tired body into the bus and wait for the driver to call your hotel. Hop off and go to bed! Easy as that.

Unofficial events

Besides the events arranged and scheduled by the MVP Program Group there are several other events going on outside the scope of the MVP Global Summit. There are MVP’s organizing their ‘own’ events like the famous Party with Palermo or events by the big software and courseware boys Telerik, Pluralsight and lots and lots of other events. Some of the events are restricted to smaller groups of ‘Insiders’ others are available on a first come first serve base where only so much tickets are available.

For a quick overview of events identified there is a small website available called MVPSummitEvents. A long list of events, where the art is to find someone to get you an invite. Best option to get is is often to ask a veteran MVP, someone who has been there for years already. Maybe he/she has another ticket left and you could be the lucky one!

Parties Only?

So if you read all of this you may think that the MVP Global Summit is all about partying, eating, drinking and sleeping. I can tell you it is NOT. The main part of the Global MVP Summit is still hard work, interacting with your product groups, discussing technical issues, giving your view of what you think is completely wrong and should be changed or showing the areas where they really did the right thing in your opinion. The Product Group wants to hear from you in this week stuffed with sessions. It’s all about feedback and learning from your peers and Microsoft technicians.

But be careful, if you are asked NOT to share information on specific items, topics or subjects not ready to share to the outside world you just can not talk to anyone about it.

If you break that trust there is a big chance this was your last MVP Global Summit you ever visited. But even worse, you also spoilt it for the ones privileged to be invited for the -next- MVP Global Summit because the team might be holding back on information until the group of MVP’s earned a new level of trust. So don’t do it, keep it to yourself, study the information you received and learn from it.

What’s Next

I am quite busy, so not sure if I can write you another post before I’ll be flying over the ocean but I want to try to at least share another post on shopping in the Bellevue area. So hang in there … and if not … have fun at YOUR MVP Global Summit in about a week from now!

2013 MVP Global Summit Tips III

This week I am giving you the third part of the 2013 MVP Global Summit tips, first for MVP’s going there the first time but also for the ones who have been there before and maybe pickup some thing they did not know. Part 1 was more or less an intro and explained my background a bit related to the MVP Global Summit but in Part 2 “2013 MVP Global Summit Travel Tips” I went over the travel options, especially from the airport to the hotel venues but also pointed you to important things like the ESTA form. As I write this third part in the series we are just two weeks away from the 2013 MVP Global Summit so if you haven’t checked your transportation options go back to part 2 and start doing that!

Your place to stay

The MVP Global Summit organization provided you with an impressive list of hotel venues to stay: Courtyard, Hilton, Hyatt, Red Lion, Sheraton, Silver Cloud and Westin. Prices vary from $114 to $240 a night excluding taxes and it is really up to you to select the hotel of your choice. I have been in the most expensive ones, close to the Bellevue central shopping area, and this year I am in the cheapest as I experienced at the \\Build 2012 conference when I selected the same hotel that, besides the distance to downtown Bellevue, the quality was really OK and as I explain later you won’t be there much.

So is the distance really an issue? No! It isn’t as each of the hotels included in the MVP Global Summit offer is providing you an excellent bus service (if you know how to handle it, that is, but I’ll explain that later to you in this post). The MVP Global Summit sessions and events are this year either located at the Hyatt Regency Hotel or at the Microsoft Campus near Microsoft Visitor Center or the Conference Center, Building 36. The organization will provide shuttles, big busses or smaller ones depending on the volume to move people between these locations.

When you arrive at your hotel you need to register at the counter, bring your registration records with you that helps finding your reservations and get the keys for your room. Most hotels require you to have a credit card at hand or cash if you don’t have a credit card to make a deposit covering damages or incidental charges in case you cleared the mini bar or rented some in room movies. If you don’t do anything of that sort, taking your credit card will not be charged other than the agreed room rated according to the regulations as posted on the MVP Global Summit website on the hotels section.

As experienced Global Summit attendee I can tell you that your hotel room will be the place where you won’t spend much of your time during the MVP Global Summit week! You will either be at one of the technical sessions or your Product Group (PG) arranged an event you should not miss. Between the technical sessions and PG events there are the social events (Party at Palermo, Insiders events, Sponsored Events and of course the Welcome event and the MVP Party Event!). More on the events in my next blog post!

Busses, Shuttles, Cars

It is important to know that while there is enough transportation to move everyone from point A to point B there are some tips here to be told by the experienced MVP’s the help you on your way and not miss out too much of your content.

Lesson 1: Prepare! Make sure that you prepared everything for the next day. Look at your schedules and BingGoogle the locations if you are not sure where to go to. Prepare your bags –and charge your devices for the next day before you go to sleep to avoid running out of battery power!

Lesson 2 is: BE on time! The earlier you arrive at the bus stop (usually just outside your hotel) the quicker you get to your point of destination. You can jump on the last bus if you like but be prepared for some heavy queuing if you do. The best option is to try to get on the first bus. It is just the average workweek for everyone around us so commuting at high traffic hours will not help you to get to your destination on time. Another thing is that a bus can only have so much seats as there are in the bus. There is no option to stand in between or sit on the floor. When the bus is fully seated it is leaving your venue, no matter what, you just have to wait for the next one.

Lesson 3 i: TAKE  your time. As you, in lesson 2 you learned to be on time, you now have enough time to get around when you arrive at your destination. There is often coffee and some additional food items to consume so take some of that if you haven’t had breakfast at your hotel. Now you are all relaxed and ready to go and listen to your sessions slowly move to your session rooms and enjoy!

What’s next

So much about your stay at the hotel and moving between the hotel and events. As there are only two weeks from now until the Summit I’ll add some extra posts over the week as it won’t be enough to cover things in the weekend (only one weekend left between you and your 2013 MVP Global Summit!). Things to discuss are food, shopping and what not. Oh and if you haven’t started to fill out your schedule planner go over there and select the sessions of your choice. The program management needs your input to select the right room sizes and plan transportation between the session rooms.

If you have comments or more tips … just add them in the comments below and share them with the community!