IAAP Summit: National Harbor

The Gaylord National Harbor Resort is a maze!! I can’t believe how huge it is! With 95 different conference rooms and 2,000 guests rooms within the 19 story building, it is any wonder how I didn’t get lost! From the lobby bar and reception area, to the atrium with stores and restaurants. There was even an arcade and an indoor pool! There wasn’t much left to be desired! And that’s all just inside!

The restaurants were good within the hotel, but nothing could beat the lobby bar. It had a perfect view overlooking the river. You could see the bridge, the ferris wheel, and the water taxi all from your seat on the open platform with a drink in your hand. The atrium was a busy place, but the lobby with it’s small bites and amazing cocktails was the perfect place to unwind and watch the sunset.

I could have thought of a better location for the IAAP Summit! Wait, did you say next year will be in Lake Buena Vista, Florida? Umm, I may need to rethink this.

IAAP Summit: Series & Logistics

Welcome to the IAAP Summit Series! The next few posts will be all about the Summit experience and how I managed to get the most out of my attendance. If you don’t know what IAAP is, hop over to their site with this link. For those of you who are familiar, let me explain why I found the Summit valuable!

PROS:

The entire conference was in one place. My lodging, food options, other entertainment, and the conference/ training classes were all on the Gaylord Hotel. It was so convenient and easy to attend, and I felt at ease not having to worry about finding a place to eat or what I was going to do when I wasn’t in class.

Huge classrooms! I mean, most of the conference rooms were referred to as ballrooms, so let’s just out that into perspective. A total of 1,300 people showed up to the Summit, so it was paramount to have these large rooms. There was never a time I felt crowded or a room overpopulated.

Standing desks are a huge deal in my office right now. The flexibility to go from standing to siting every couple of hours is not only good for your health, but it is also a smart commodity to keep you audience awake and engaged. Creates more room for people as well!

There were so many great presenters/topics! My favorite two were Vonetta and Julia. Vonetta Watson provided many technical topics that I loved! Her courses were amazing overviews on the latest office software, tips and tricks! Julia Kristina spoke about difficult people, but with a twist. Her words are still ringing in my ears: “There aren’t difficult people; only difficult situations in which you have a choice to react to.” Overall, the sessions were impactful!

As I mentioned, there were about 1,300 attendees at the Summit. That’s a lot of people! During the opening ceremony, there was a presentation of flags for all the attending participants countries. Such diversity! It was amazing to see and meet so many different people!

CONS:

I found it interesting that there wasn’t a lot of complimentary items for attendees. Even water that was provided was scarce. Sitting in a class all day without water is like sleeping with your mouth open. Your mouth gets dry, and you become distracted by your basic physical need. I’m sure the point was to make people buy their water, but what a waste of plastic!

Even thought some of the classrooms had standing desks, they were fee and far between. They were advertised as if every room had it, but that was not the case.

While most topics were amazing, and I was dedicated to ensure I found at least one useful bit in every session, there were a very few topics that were dry. One in particular was about document retention. I don’t believe it was the speakers fault as the course matter is dry, so it was one that I think should be scratched for the next go around.

Overall, the Summit receives a solid 9.5 out of 10 for me! This experience was amazing from a networking view, an educational opportunity, and an overall wonderful conference! I truly hope that I am able to continue to attend in the years to come.