A Guide to Learning and Development Conferences from Someone Who’s Been There, Done That
I have the privilege of traveling for work from time to time, representing Mindspace as a conference exhibitor or attendee, and in-person with our clients and prospects. While business travel can be a drag sometimes, I try to keep things exciting by visiting new places and making it an adventure, drawing inspiration from Uncle Traveling Matt.
As you plan your 2019 conference calendar, he’s a quick recap of the events I attended this year. Hopefully, these insights from “Uncle Traveling Chad” can inspire you to attend the right show.
ATD TechKnowledge 2018 was in beautiful San Jose, CA. “TK” is a great show to go to for hands-on workshops. There were several sessions that focused on building, creating, and doing right there in the room. Other sessions (in the “disrupt” series) were structured as town-hall discussions.
This is a smaller show (a few thousand attendees), so networking is a little easier. Even if you attend with colleagues, sign up for “Meet to Eat” and enjoy a meal (everyone pays their own way) with other attendees at a fantastic local restaurant. It was at Mezcal (great Mexican food!) in downtown San Jose that I found our new translations vendor!
If you’re not tuning in to the TLDCast every morning, you’re missing out! Brent and his crew do a great job of talking to the best minds in the industry. The inaugural TLD Conference held in Phoenix was an intimate mix of people which led to some deep discussions about real-world projects and issues. This show had the best takeaways… those things you could go and implement now! It also had the best swag of any show I attended—Mindspace-branded notebooks!
This is ATD’s International Conference and Exhibition, and they’re not kidding! It was awesome to meet people from all over the country and the world!
Mindspace was an exhibitor in 2018 in San Diego, and we had a fabulous show. Former President Barack Obama was the opening keynote. Oprah is set to open the 2019 show. Attendance is massive; over 10,000 people and the exhibit floor is big enough so that you’ll be able to get all of your steps in. This is a show where you absolutely need a plan to make the most of your time.
The best part about ATD ICE? It seems like “everyone” is there - so it’s an excellent time to meet up with former colleagues, vendors, and friends in the industry. Pro Tip: Pre-register for the “official” networking event called “Networking Night”.
“But Chad.” you might say, “HR Tech isn’t a learning, training, or talent conference.” That’s correct. Mindspace exhibited at this show in an effort to connect with our audience of HR professionals, other technology vendors, and potential partners. We also talked publicly about Fathom V2 for the first time! While the conversations weren’t as numerous as those at ATD ICE, the depth and quality of the discussions were better. It was exciting to meet so many decision-makers and people responsible for platforms and systems. Full disclosure, it seemed like there were too many vendors for the number of attendees.
If you’re not into things HR-related, this is not the right show. But if you’re a fan of cutting-edge HR technologies, this is indeed the right show for you. HR Tech is at the Venetian in Las Vegas, which means tons of walking. Wear only your most comfortable shoes.
I’ve been to DevLearn a few times now, and I’m not going to lie… it’s my favorite. First, an expo-only pass is free. It’s in Las Vegas, which typically means an inexpensive flight and cheap hotel rates. And the weather in October is awesome! So even if your boss won’t send you—it’s reasonable to consider going on your own.
This is a medium-sized show with a great mix of vendors and a solid lineup of sessions if that’s your thing. The in-expo demos can be—sometimes (depending on who gives them)—really good. The highlight for many is DemoFest at the conclusion of the expo. During DemoFest, the keynote ballroom is converted so that about 60-70 people can all demo their projects to small groups simultaneously. This continues for about 2 hours - with the winners determined by popular vote.
What, Never Been?
Never been to a learning and training expo? ...start with DevLearn… and don’t miss Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips while you’re there!
Words by Chad Bellin, Director of Products and Strategy at Mindspace.
Art by Toby Riley, Art Director at Mindspace.