It’s that time again, APCO 2019 - THE conference for public safety communications professionals! If you’re like most, you’ve probably planned out quite a bit of your trip to Baltimore. If it’s your first time, it has been a while or you’ve been before here are a few tips, tricks and survival hacks to making it a successful conference.
Many of you will travel to the Baltimore, MD area prior to the actual start of the conference, either arriving on Saturday or Sunday depending on your schedule and needs. This is an excellent time to get the lay of the land, do a little taking in the scene or maybe scouting out that restaurant you know you will want to eat at. I also always scope out where the nearest Walgreens or RiteAid is, because inevitably I’ll need something (usually Band-Aids and water). Which brings me to my next point, don’t over do it before the conference even starts. Pack those comfy, site-seeing shoes and wear them (don’t wait), your feet will thank you later in the week.
Next, look online at APCO’s “Program” page where you’ll find info on the Sessions, Luncheon, Block Party, Tours and Wellness programs. Start mapping out what you would like to attend and when. Now, get some rest and make a plan. (Heck... that’s why you’re reading this blog…right?) It’s going to be a LONG week. I’ll tell you that now. Between walking, chatting with colleagues, friends, attending all the great sessions APCO has lined up and taking in the sights, I promise you’ll be exhausted by the time you head home. Pace yourself and you’ll enjoy APCO and Baltimore a bit more.
Monday, August 12th
The actual APCO Conference week kicks off Monday with the Opening General Session. This year’s Keynote speaker is Bret Baier, Fox News Chief Political Anchor and Host, Special Report with Bret Baier. While I’ve never actually been able to attend the Opening Session, I’ve heard great things about the speakers chosen in the past and how inspirational and relevant both the speaker and the topics covered are. So, mark this event as a MUST attend.
The exhibit hall hours start on Monday at 10 am with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony, (HINT: the Professional Development Tracks don’t start until 2pm, so there is a large chuck of time between the Opening Session/Keynote and your tracks.) This is what the conference organizers call “exclusive exhibit hall hours”. This simply means this is your time to visit the hall and it shouldn’t conflict with anything else, meaning you won’t miss a track or session during this time. Also, there is a $10 lunch credit (with your registration) to be used from 11:30-1:30, redeemable in the exhibit hall.
As you’re scheduling sessions be sure to check out the ECC Tour’s (offered Saturday – Wednesday at various times and locations) as this is always a great opportunity to visit another center and check out how they do things (VERY cool if you ask me!). Then, the evening is yours. There are plenty of groups that go to dinner or vendors that take clients out. Find something you’ll enjoy, and some good company and the rest takes care of itself.
Tuesday, August 13th
I’d recommend you grab a bite at your hotel or on your way to the convention center. There is a Distinguished Achievers Breakfast at 8 am, but it’s not included in your registration and the tickets are $20 each. After that, you’ll have a bit of extra time to stroll through the exhibit hall before the Professional Development Tracks start at 1:30 pm. There is also the same $10 lunch credit to be used from 11:30-1:30, redeemable in the exhibit hall. Then it’s off to your tracks. Just a word to the wise: if you haven’t visited the expo hall until this point, you only have until 4 pm. Then that’s it - exhibitors pack up and we are on to the next show.
Next up, is the APCO Block Party, which starts at 7 pm. This year is very cool in that it’s at Oriole Park at Camden Yards (The O’s aren’t playing but you’ll get to explore the grounds). Admittance is free with Conference registration or a Tuesday Day Pass. Wear/dress appropriately as the event is outside and you’ll be walking for at least part of it. There is a bus shuttle service to the park, or you can walk. Either way, this event has been great in the past, so I’d mark it as a must attend.
Wednesday, August 14th
This day I call “Rinse and Repeat”. By now you know the drill. The Professional Development Tracks start earlier this day, 9 am (no exhibit hall), so just a heads up. The day is capped off with the Connect & Celebrate Dinner Reception, which looks super cool. Taylor Mason is a comedian, entertainer, musician, ventriloquist and actor and will be the entertainment for the evening. Tickets must be purchased for $50 and be sure to check the suggested dress for the evening.
And, that’s a wrap folks. There are so many details I may have left out, but this should get you on your way towards a successful APCO conference. Stop by Xybix's booth #230, say “hi” to me, let me know you read my blog, as well as check out our newest eagle dispatch console furniture.
Don’t forget to eat, hydrate and be kind to yourself. See you in Baltimore!