Starting tomorrow many of franchising’s finest will descend on Las Vegas for the 53rd Annual International Franchise Association Convention. Early predictions are that total attendance could exceed 3500 this year. Many of those 3500 people will be attending for the first time, or for the first time in a long time. I’ve talked with several veteran IFA Convention attendees recently and we’d like to offer some helpful advice to the newbies in a Q&A format. So, here goes…
Q1: I hear it’s a bit of a walk from the main hotel area of the MGM Grand to the convention area. Is this true?
A1: “A little bit of a walk”??? That’s like saying a marathon is just a short jog! Having attended this convention at this hotel no less than 3 times, I guesstimate it’s a solid 1 mile hike. When you pack your bag to go to meetings for the day, don’t plan on being able to just “pop” back up to your room real quick. Not gonna happen.
Q2: Where is the best place to meet the most people?
A2: Near an open bar! Us veterans are not suggesting you need to imbibe to meet people, we’re just saying, that’s where you’ll find us. Ahem, I mean them, the most people…
Q3: How important is proper shoe selection to my overall convention experience?
A4: Very! See Q1 for why. For the ladies, I recommend carrying your heels (if you’re so inclined to wear them) and wearing a pair of flats for the main walk from hotel to convention center. Bear in mind, you will likely be out and about from 7:00 AM to midnight each day – that’s a long time in heels. You could probably get away with just packing 2 pairs of shoes for this trip – a pair of sneakers and a pair of dress flats. That being said, I’ll be bringing 6 pairs of shoes. Gentlemen – wear whatever wingtips you prefer, but please do wear socks with them.
Q4: I’ve heard that franchise people are really friendly. Is this true, and am I going to be expected to hug everyone?
A4: You can’t believe it until you experience it, but generally speaking franchise people are very, very friendly folks. That being said, you will see A LOT of hugging, a fair amount of cheek kissing and the occasional butt/towel snap so be prepared. You’ll want to have your standard response, i.e. return hug, air kiss, fist bump, etc. practiced before Taste of Franchising kicks off Sunday night.
Q5: If I don’t know anyone, how should I identify who the best people to network with are?
A5: Easy. Ribbons. Look for the people that have the most nametag ribbons. Those are the folks who are the most involved and can offer you sound advice on most things IFA. What you will not want to learn from these people who have ribbons down to their ankles is how to say, “No”, because clearly they have not yet learned how to say “No” when being asked to volunteer their time, contribute money, speak on panels, etc. etc. The other reason you will want to watch out for the people with the most ribbons is because occasionally those ribbons will get zipped up in a zipper or stuck to a pant leg in a precarious place – very funny. Keep a look out for the ribbons!
That’s all folks. Good luck, God speed (down the longest hallway in the world) and we’ll see you in Vegas!!