Yesterday I left work at noon and picked up my three genea-buddies for the 5 hour drive from South Bend to Cincinnati The trip went fast as we spent the time visiting and planning our sessions for the next 4 days. Plans which changed many times as we dissected the syllabus and discussed speakers and topics. There was plenty of excitement in that van!
We arrived at the Duke Energy Convention Center by 6:30, just in time to get registered before they closed at 7:00 pm. This saved us from having to arrive extra early in the morning to complete our registration. I endured a few minutes of panic when they were not able to locate my registration and I didn't have my confirmation!
Crisis averted, we headed over to check in at the Hilton which is just a few blocks away from the convention center and connected via a skywalk. The Hilton is a beautiful historic hotel listed in the Historical Hotels of America book. The art deco style of the lobby is breathtaking! We received adjoining rooms on the 20th floor with a wonderful view of the river.
Parking for the hotel is located a block away and available for self parking. By the time we unloaded and parked the car it was 8:00 and I was too tired from the drive to locate a place for dinner and decided instead to take a shower and put on my p.j.'s! It had been a long day!
Although the conference had not yet begun, I learned a few things as a 1st time national conference attendee.
1. Attending a national conference is expensive! Beside the cost of registration and hotel, you have the cost of gas and meals on the road. Then there are the incidential costs of the bellhop (the Hilton does not loan out their luggage carts)
2. While the Hilton is a beautiful hotel, it has not been upgraded to wireless in the guest rooms. You must connect via an Ethernet cord which in our room wasn't working. A more modern hotel would serve us better when you are looking at 4 days of uncertain Internet connection.
3. Instead of working half day I would take the whole day off and arrive in the afternoon. We encountered road construction along the way which added to the stress of the long drive. Better to be less stressed and better rested.
How I counted my pennies:
1. We opted to take our own bags to the room and save on the expense of the Bellhop.
2. We opted for self-parking which will still cost $40.00 for 4 days with the conference discount (and no in/out privileges.
3. My roomie and I added a refrigerator to the cost of our room and brought food for breakfast and lunch. The cost of the fridge was $60.00 for 4 days ($30.00 a piece) but will save us lots of money and time purchasing meals during the day.