It has been said that Dreamforce is like Disney World for Salesforce customers, so here are some suggestions on making the best of both Dreamforce and Disney World.
At Disney, you don’t want to be the person who arrives at the Magic Kingdom saying, “So, what can we do here?” You’ll waste a lot of time wandering the park looking for attractions or you’ll be so distracted by Main Street USA that you’ll never get to the rides. Before you arrive, understand which attractions are appropriate for your children and where they are located in the park. Remember that if your child doesn’t meet the height requirements, they are not getting on the ride. Don’t waste time waiting in that line!
At Dreamforce, if you haven’t used the Agenda Builder to book sessions, now is the time to do so. The campus is spread over multiple venues, including the Moscone Convention Center, Marriott Marquis Hotel and even the San Francisco Hilton. Take some time to study the campus map. Understand where each venue is located in relation to each other so you don’t get lost as you move from one session to another. If you want to attend Marc’s main keynote in person, you have to arrive early.
Plan Your Route
At Disney, you need to plan your day. What’s most important to you: shopping on Main Street, character greetings or the RIDES! Plan a route through the park. Most people enter a park and turn right. You should turn left. Arrive at the park when it opens and try to get to the most popular rides first. Then take your time and do everything else. Every ride ends with a gift shop, but there’s no need to stop in every one of them.
At Dreamforce, you’ll need to plan your agenda around the session locations. If you spend your day walking back and forth from the Hilton and the Marriott, you will be tired and frustrated by the end of the day. It may be necessary to miss a session just to give your poor feet a rest. You will never get all of your sessions in a single location, but don’t spend your entire day running between venues.
Ask for Help
At Disney, if you are not tripping over strollers and mobile scooters, you are bumping into extremely friendly Disney staff. They are there to help, so don’t be shy if you have a question. Some will even have a treat or trick for the kids.
At Dreamforce, event staff are everywhere. If you are lost or confused, ask them for help. If they don’t know the answer, they will find out for you. And of course, ask other attendees. The Salesforce Community is renowned for its willingness to help and this is especially true at Dreamforce.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
At Disney, it’s easy to just go to the attractions you like. But if you really want to have a memorable vacation, try something new. If you don’t like roller coasters, Disney is a great place to start with easier rides like Thunder Mountain and Test Track. If you like those, step up to Expedition Everest or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Besides, your kids will love seeing the look of terror on your face as you plunge over the side of Splash Mountain.
At Dreamforce, take a session outside of your normal business requirements. If you are Button Click admin, take a session on learning APEX or Visualforce. If you only use Salesforce for fundraising, take a session on the Service Cloud or the Marketing Cloud to learn other ways you can be using Salesforce. Use Dreamforce to expand your Salesforce horizons.
At Disney, you need a plan of which attractions you want to see and when you want to see them but you must be flexible. Letting your kids go on a ride two or three times may put you behind schedule but does that really matter? If they want to leave at 2:00 pm but you had planned to stay until 4:00, you need to adapt. Don’t be upset, just be happy that they had so much fun they can’t take any more.
At Dreamforce, you will also have to be flexible. With over 1,500 sessions and about 130,000 attendees, something will go wrong. AV equipment will break down, a session may be cancelled or you’ll arrive late for a session you have reserved but not be allowed in because the room is at capacity. Roll with it. Don’t get upset, just look for something else to do. You might be able to get into a nearby session or start a conversation with a stranger. Some of my best moments at Dreamforce have occurred after I struck up a conversation with other attendees.
Escape the Bubble
Disney World is a fantastic place to bring your kids for a vacation but living in the Disney bubble can be exhausting. Don’t forget to leave the parks and experience some of the outside world. Downtime isn’t wasted time; you and the kids will need to recharge.
Dreamforce can be overwhelming and exhausting so it helps to step outside the Salesforce bubble for a while. Make sure you experience more of San Francisco than the Moscone Center. San Francisco is a beautiful city and it has a lot to offer; so take the time to relax and enjoy the City by the Bay.
You Can’t Buy Everything
At Disney, it’s fairly easy to get caught up in the moment and start spending money in every gift shop. But does your daughter really need that $15 balloon or 10 new t-shirts and hoodies? Can you fit that huge stuffed toy on the plane? Remember, the Visa bill comes next month.
At Dreamforce, the Partner Expo can seem like a dream come true for a Salesforce Admin who wants to impress their boss with all of the ways one can use Salesforce. Take your time in the Expo and learn what’s possible but don’t get carried away. Don’t forget, every time you give away a business card or get scanned, someone is going to call you.
Preparing for either Dreamforce or Disney takes some effort but will pay off in the long run. Dreamforce can be overwhelming so please spend some time getting ready for an awesome event. You won’t believe how rewarding it can be to be around so many people who have the same goals and interests as you do. But most importantly – HAVE FUN!