VMworld is one of the most anticipated and largest tech conferences. My VMworld tips are based on my own experiences at VMworld Barcelona 2017 & 2018, however, I’m sure they will apply to 2019 in both US (San Francisco) and Europe (Barcelona)
Most good hotels will let you book with free cancellation ahead of the check-in date. Even if you are unsure if you will be attending, you may as well book a room to take advantage of early rates, just set a reminder to cancel it before your card gets charged.
When purchasing your VMworld pass there will also be a list of hotels provided that you can book, these will have a special VMworld discount applied. Follow the instructions once logged into the VMworld portal for further details.
2. Free Food and drink
There is no need to bring lunch or any drinks with you to VMworld. VMworld provides hot and cold lunch and there are countless numbers of fridges complete with water (Still and sparkling) plus soft drinks such as Coke and Fanta.
If you are in the breakout session area you will also find coffee to take away with you.
During lunch, instead of walking to the lunch area, hang out in the breakout sessions area and there will be cold packed lunches brought out. If you are lucky you can grab one of those to save the trip.
If you go to the free VMworld party (In Barcelona, this is within the conference facility) then there are a selection of free alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, food and ice-cream.
As an attendee, there is no strict dress code. Wear whatever is comfortable (Sometimes there are prizes for what you are wearing, such as a VMware Code t-shirt etc) Jeans and t-shirt are perfectly acceptable. It can get quite cold in some of the break-out session rooms (Breakout sessions are simply presentations on a specific topic) so bring something to keep the draft off you too.
You will do a lot of walking during the event. Even in Europe which is slightly smaller, the distance between main sessions and breakout sessions can be a fair distance. (In fact, I turned up 5 minutes late to my first breakout session due to the distance, sitting at the front of the general session has its disadvantages!) You might be making several trips between locations each day so be sure to wear good shoes.
4. Free training
Use VMworld as a week of free training. Attend the right sessions and you’ll learn more than you would on a week-long course. Book sessions with “Meet the Experts”, talk to vBrownBag hosts and try out VMware exclusive live Hands-on-Labs to learn more about all of VMware’s current and new products and services – Become the expert in your field at work!
5. Discounted Exams
If you have time, take advantage of the VMworld exam discounts. Last year they were half price. They open quite early and finish fairly late so you can still attend and not miss out on too many sessions. Need to skill up for work, why not have a shot at a new track or renew your VCP for half the price?
6. Free metro
If you are going to VMworld Barcelona, last year there were free metro tickets available. The taxi rank queues can get quite long. The metro can be much faster so ask at the reception desks for any available tickets that you may be entitled to.
7. Discounted & free access to VMworld
Do you hold a valid VCP or are a member of VMUG Advantage? Perhaps you are both? – Good news, you are entitled to a discount to a full VMworld Conference pass! You can use these in combination with the early bird prices too! Register with your education email address to receive the VCP discount.
Speakers get free passes and if you follow the main vendors on Twitter you might also see some competitions giving away free passes. The Early Bird rate finishes 21st June for US and 26th July for Europe so be sure to book your VMworld pass before then to save even more.
Another tip here is to ask your boss, or think ahead and see if you can get a conference pass added to your benefits at work, perhaps suggest this at your appraisal meeting? There is also a sample “Convince your boss” letter. US Letter here Europe Letter here.Learn more about or sign up to VMworld 2019 – San Francisco (US) or Barcelona (Europe) here
8. Free stuff (including parties)
At VMworld you will be offered a lot of free stuff or “SWAG” (Stuff We All Get). This includes free t-shirts, backpacks, jackets, pens, notebooks, books, water bottles. The list is endless. Ensure you have a large suitcase otherwise, you won’t be able to get it all back home!
Walk round solutions exchange and scan your badge at various “stands” to claim your free gifts. Every stand has something to giveaway. If you’re looking for some t-shirts or water bottles for co-workers etc then hand around on the last day and there are usually extras available to grab.
By day 2 I had 2 full backpacks and had to start apologising and saying no to anything else as it wasn’t going to fit in my suitcase!
Be sure to pick up your VMware branded backpack at the collection point, this is included in the price of your ticket.
For the free parties, keep an eye out for invitations on social media for the VMworld parties. Also, the official VMworld party you can attend for free. Last year in Barcelona The Kooks were the band and it was a fun night.
Also, complete the challenges to earn extra VMware SWAG!
9. Breakout sessions – “Queue jump”
Attend all the interesting breakout sessions. The key to this is to use the app / VMworld session scheduler and pre-book your access. If you book a session, you scan your badge and walk right in. If you don’t book access then you will find yourself in a queue outside and scrambling for a seat just a few minutes before the start.
The real secret to VMworld is to get involved. Keep your eye open for hackathons which often have free spots open in various teams & attend the vendor events which might be in a different location on an evening.
Visit the Solutions Exchange stalls, the smaller companies are often really interesting to speak to. I was able to meet face to face with vendors that I had been in contact with via phone and email. It’s nice to put a face to a name and have an informal chat about their products to learn about their direction and roadmaps. Be sure to attend community sessions in the Education & Communities lounge. They tend to be less formal and are a great way to meet people.
Never be shy to talk to speakers after the session if they invite you, provide feedback or ask deep dive questions. What surprised me is that feedback I gave was often written down or I was asked to email it in so it wasn’t forgotten about.
People are really friendly, just ask if you need anything or post out on Twitter if you have a free hour. I met loads of people by posting on Twitter my location in the venue with the #vExpert hashtag, I keep in contact with many of the people that I met that week. Also, be sure to meet the awesome VMTN team in the Communities area!
There are also free re-charge stations around the place to site and charge your laptop/phone. These are good places to get to know people too, everyone is super friendly so don’t be afraid to say hi, you never know who you’ll meet!Learn more about or sign up to VMworld 2019 – San Francisco (US) or Barcelona (Europe) here
Don’t forget, the Early Bird rate finishes 21st June 2019 for US (San Francisco) and 26th July 2019 for Europe (Barcelona)
Bonus: VMworld 2019 Backpack revealed