General Questions

What the heck is a SpiceBuddy?

SpiceBuddies are SpiceHeads just like you! We're a group of veteran SpiceWorld attendees who are super passionate about helping their fellow IT pros get the most out of the conference, both on a professional level and a personal level.

I'm a vendor or Green Guy/ I welcome at SpiceBuddy events?

Absolutely! The vendors that pay for booths help make sure that the conference happens every year, and the vendors that sponsor events make the conference a ton more fun for all attendees! Our one rule is that while you're with the SpiceBuddies you're a person, not a salesperson. We definitely encourage vendors attending the conference to come visit our booth and our events, just make sure your focus is on hanging out with fellow attendees and not on selling your product.

I'm feeling super overwhelmed...where do I start??

Attending a conference for the first time can be nerve-wracking, especially if you've never been to one before or just feel uncomfortable in big groups of strangers. A SpiceBuddy is a friendly face you can look for in the sea of strangers. Feel free to reach out to any of us on the Meet the SpiceBuddies page, and join us on Discord to meet people before the conference. You can also stop by our booth outside the Tech Talk Theater in the main conference hall if you want some face-to-face contact in a smaller setting.

Travel Questions

I'm arriving early for (or leaving late after) the conference; what other stuff can I explore in the area?

The SpiceBuddies put together an Unofficial SpiceWorld map which labels restaurants, bars, hangouts, and other awesome stuff to do while in Austin. It's embedded on our home page, or you can open the map here. You can also take a look at a great map of all the food trucks in Austin - they're definitely worth hitting up!

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When should I arrive in Austin? How about leaving?

While Monday is the official first day of SpiceWorld, Sunday is the unofficial start! Several vendors usually have events scheduled for Sunday evening. Monday during the day belongs to the Powershell workshop, the Carbonite Salt Lick trip and the HQ tour. Monday evening is the official kick off of SpiceWorld with the Welcome Shindig and your first opportunity to hit the vendor hall! Post-Conference weddings aside, most people head out on Thursday. For the first time in a couple years, SpiceWorld isn't bracketed by the ACL festival, so lodging is a bit more affordable this year if you wanted to stay a couple extra days. There’s usually a few low key farewell events scheduled on Thursday, but most people are stumbling towards the airports Thursday morning.

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How do I get downtown from the airport?

The most direct way is to take a taxi or use a ridesharing app, though this is a bit more expensive. You can check details on ATX's ridesharing pickup locations. Another, cheaper, option is to find the shuttle for your hotel (if it has one), or find a shuttle for a nearby hotel and use that one. The best way to do this is to call the hotel ahead of time and ask what times the shuttle leaves from the airport and what times it leaves from the hotel. This will help you plan your travel times.

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The hotels near the convention center are so expensive!

The last couple years, booking accommodations in downtown Austin has been expensive since SpiceWorld had landed between ACL festival weekends, but there are a few good tips to save some money regardless of what other events are going on. If you want to stay in a hotel, keep an eye on the SpiceWorld travel page; every year Spiceworks organizes blocks of rooms at a bunch of hotels in the area, so it's a bit cheaper to book as part of the hotel block than separately. The hotels within walking distance are the best option for convenience but tend to be a bit pricier. The further hotels all have shuttles to and from the convention center, so if you're willing to give up some convenience you'll save some cash. Many SpiceHeads also look at options through Airbnb. This can be a much cheaper option, especially if you get a bigger apartment/condo and split the costs with other SpiceHeads. There are tons of options within a block or two of the convention center, and many include a free parking spot for those who drive or rent a car. Cyali books a big Airbnb every year and usually looks to lock down who's staying with her a month or 2 before SpiceWorld; feel free to reach out any time to see if she's got a bed open for ya! Her deals usually come out to $350-$500 for the entire week for a bed.

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What’s the ACL?

Austin City Limits at Moody Theatre is the location of the SpiceWorld party Tuesday night. The hotel shuttles will start ferrying people to ACL Tuesday after the Happy Hour, then later will start running from ACL back to the hotels. Fill out the trivia card on the bus on your way to the party and drop it off at the party to enter a raffle for some really neat prizes! The SpiceWorld party is also where you’ll get (free!) dinner on Tuesday. There’s a live band and a great time to be had! If the dance floor and the insanity therein isn’t your cup of tea, keep climbing the stairs and you’ll find some terraces and indoor lounge areas that make for great corners to settle down with some food and network!

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How do I get around in Austin?

For most stuff, your feet will do you just fine; many (if not most) official and unofficial events are within easy walking distance of the conference center. For everything else, the bus system is pretty good (make sure you have exact change). Austin has a great article on their bus system. Uber and Lyft are back in town. Pedicabs are fun (but only take cash), and the rental bikes and scooters are everywhere! If you haven't tried the Bird or Lime scooters, we HIGHLY recommend you give them a shot - they're a blast! You can also check out the SpiceBuddies Discord or Hangouts or post in the SpiceWorld group and see if there’s anyone going where you want to go that wouldn’t mind sharing an Uber or has a free seat in their car - a few of us drive in and have a car available.

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I'm arriving hours before I can check into my hotel/Airbnb...what do I do with my stuff?

The Austin Visitor Center has a Suitcase Stash program noted on their website. Quoted, "If space allows, the Visitor Center will hold your luggage for $7 per piece per day, freeing you to explore Austin unencumbered. Restrictions and limitations apply. Call (512) 478-0098 for details." If you're staying at a hotel, many of them have a free luggage check before check-in. You can also reach out to the SpiceBuddies through the Meet the SpiceBuddies page or on our Discord to see if someone will let you stash your luggage in their hotel/Airbnb/car - many of us have offered to others in the past.

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SpiceWorld Advice & Info

What should I pack?

As little as possible to make more room for swag! Pack enough shirts to get you through Monday night. After the Vendor Showcase, you’ll have more than enough shirts to get you through the rest of the conference. Plus, some vendors will do contests where you can win a prize if they catch you wearing their swag during the conference. Bring an extra bag or suitcase (that can be checked, if you're flying) for swag. You’ll need it. You will get a backpack at registration and some vendors give away drawstring style bags as swag, so you should be set for swag storage during the conference. If you’re concerned about being around so many people, stock up on Vitamin C pills before the conference. Unless your doctor says otherwise, it can’t hurt, and may just keep away the dreaded Con Crud. Make sure to bring a pair of comfy shoes; expect to get your 10,000 steps in each day, more if you explore the downtown! A reusable water bottle that clips onto your backpack is a huge help; it's important to stay hydrated so you can get the most out of the conference.

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What should I wear?

As long as all your naughty bits are covered, no one cares. Almost everyone will be in vendor shirts and jeans/shorts/leggings/kilts. (There’s a special Kilt badge you get on your profile for wearing a kilt to SpiceWorld.) Notable wardrobe choices at SpiceWorld include a bacon suit, capes, costumes, and a bright orange bathrobe. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure you’re comfortable. If you’re most comfortable in business casual, you won’t be alone. Austin is hot and the convention center sessions rooms can get cold, so be prepared. Tentative weather forecasts for SpiceWorld 2019 show high 80s to low 90s with a moderate chance of rain throughout the week, so pack accordingly. You’ll also be doing a lot of walking and standing, so comfortable shoes are a must.

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Should I bring my laptop?

As always, this depends on you, your note taking preference, how much support you have back at work, and the distance to your hotel room. You may be better off taking the pen and paper, smartphone, or tablet route for taking notes rather than pulling out your laptop. However, the SpiceWorld curse is alive and well and you could end up being one of the techs sitting against a wall, remoting in back home and putting out fires. (My Spiceworks instance crashed while I was at my first Spiceworld!) If your hotel is within walking distance of the convention center, you may want to leave your laptop in your room and run back to do your fire fighting if you don't want to carry your laptop around.

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What sort of things should I expect from events?

The events are as plentiful and varied as the many vendors, Spiceworkers, and SpiceHeads that make this conference what it is, and what to expect from an event depends a lot on what sort of event you're attending. If it's a vendor-sponsored event, generally you can expect some free food and/or booze, and usually some of that vendor's swag as a door prize. For events put on or coordinated by other SpiceHeads, generally you'll simply find a gathering of other SpiceHeads who buy their own food/booze and enjoy each other's company. In any case, at any event you go to you can expect to find a good time with good people in a pretty laid-back atmosphere!

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Should I make a schedule of things I want to do, or just wing it?

A bit of both works out really well. It's great to have a schedule of things that you want to do/see throughout the conference. The week before SpiceWorld, take a half hour or so and plan out your week, adding every panel or event you want to attend into your phone's calendar with a reminder a half hour or so beforehand. As the reminders come up, you can determine whether you want to stop what you're doing and go to the panel/event, or skip it.

This way, you keep tabs on all the things that actually interest you and can filter out the rest, and as each event reminder comes up you can make a judgement call on whether you're still interested and/or up for it. This also keeps your planned events all in one place. If you feel too overwhelmed one day, it's easy to look at your calendar to plan some down time between panels, or decide to go see a panel to get away from the crowds. It's not a big deal to over-commit to seeing panels because there's no RSVP and you're not wasting anyone's time if you don't show up.

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What are these 1-on-1 sessions I'm hearing about?

This is a really cool newly-added offering from SpiceWorld: if you have a project or issue you'd like to talk to a vendor about, or if you'd just like to chat with them about their products, you can schedule a 1-on-1 session. This is a really great way to get some face time with vendors on those sticky issues you can't seem to resolve in your environment. You can also schedule 1-on-1 sessions to chat about products, get feedback or suggestions on a project you're rolling out, get help with licensing issues, pretty much anything you can think of! To schedule one, head to the SpiceWorld Sponsors page, click on a sponsor icon, and click "Schedule a meeting."

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What's this I hear about swag?

You will get lots of swag from all the vendors and Spiceworks! Backpacks, bottles, pens, toys, stickers, t-shirts, maybe polo shirts, socks, sunglasses, golf towels, flashlights, hats, boxers (yes boxers; at SW17 one of the vendors was giving boxers away!). When you go into the Convention Center, bring a reusable bag or two or three. Sometimes a vendor will be giving those away. The backpack that Spiceworks gives you is not enough for all the swag. It helps staying at a hotel or Airbnb close by so you can make drop-off trips for your swag. You will need at least a half of a large suitcase to lug your haul back home, so pack light with plenty of space to take your swag back to kids, co-coworkers, spouse parents, friends, and in-laws. Some people even pack an empty bag or suitcase when they travel to Austin so they can check a full bag of swag on the way home, and others ship a package of swag home (there are multiple shipping storefronts near the Convention Center). If you are a SpiceLeader: At the end of the conference, a lot of vendors don't want to ship their leftover swag home. Reach out to Cyali or Jimmy T. to coordinate getting a box of leftover swag shipped to you for your SpiceCorps!

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What's the Passport to Prizes?

Passport to prizes is a booklet with a grid of all the vendors that are sponsoring an item in the raffle during the Final Hurrahs. In order to be entered into the raffle you will have to visit each and every vendor booth that is listed in this booklet and have them stamp their name in your booklet. When all of the squares are stamped, fill out your personal information and turn it in at the Registration Desk. You must be present during the Final Hurrahs if you want to be eligible for a raffle prize. Reach out to Jeff Grettler (Spiceworks) if you're curious about what happens to the raffle tickets of the people not present. Tell him the SpiceBuddies sent you!

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What are the sessions?

Sessions are presentations put on by SpiceHeads, vendors, and special guests on a topic of their expertise. There are panels on all sorts of topics, all of which are listed in the official Agenda and in the SpiceWorld app. There are usually 2-3 keynote presentations by big names in the industry, as well as some Spiceworks-branded sessions such as their On The Air Live. The rest of the sessions are put on by SpiceHeads and vendors about topics they are passionate about. There are usually various sessions on career advancement, asset management, security, training, the Spiceworks app, futureproofing (yourself and your work), soft skills...the list goes on, but it's pretty much guaranteed you'll be able to find at least a few that are relevant or at least interesting to you.

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I don’t want to miss any of the sessions! What can I do about two sessions I want to see at the same time?

Some of the very popular sessions will be repeated on Wednesday. All the sessions will be recorded by SpiceWorks and posted in the SpiceWorld group some time after the conference. All the major stuff (Opening Address, keynote speakers, maybe the Raffle/Final Hurrahs) will be streamed.

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Just how big of a conference are we talking? How many people are going to be there?

2017 had 2500 people descend on Austin for SpiceWorld, and 1500 were SpiceHeads!

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I’m not sure I can handle that many people!

SpiceWorld is what you make it. If you’re just there for the sessions and the vendor hall, you’re good. But, if you’re a SpiceHead, everyone at this conference is one of your people. Pick a table at breakfast or lunch and talk with people. Everyone at that table will know exactly what you’re talking about. Try to take a step or two outside your comfort zone. Then come back the next year and take another step. Before you know it, you’ll be a SpiceBuddy! If you do find yourself in need of some quiet alone time, the conference center has quite a few small lounge areas in the halls outside the main convention floor, as well as upstairs on higher levels. You can also check out our Unofficial Map for some great hangout suggestions.

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I’m a major introvert. I need survival tips!

A great deal of IT Pros are introverts, and probably a great deal of SpiceBuddies as well! Get to know your fellow SpiceHeads! Get active in the SpiceWorld group! Join the SpiceBuddies Discord to chat there! Make friends in the Community that you can’t wait to meet IRL at SpiceWorld! It's very often easier to reach out to someone online or over chat before meeting them face-to-face. Make sure to also schedule in some "me time" to decompress. If there’s a session block with nothing that catches your eye, head back to your room or grab a chair in the hallway with your laptop or phone. Hang out in an empty session room for a little bit. SpiceWorld is a marathon, not a sprint. Take a break when you need to!

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How bad are vendor follow-ups going to be after the conference?

If you do the Passport to Prizes and visit all the vendors, then you can definitely expect some vendors to be reaching out. When the emails and calls are coming in, remember: the vendors are why we get SpiceWorld. The vast majority of the vendors are very respectful if you tell them “no,” and even with their initial contact are not overly pushy like many salespeople. If you do have any SpiceWorld vendors that are being disrespectful or overly pushy, please reach out to the Spiceworks' SpiceWorld staff to let them know! When this has happened in previous years, Spiceworks stepped in and spoke to the problem vendors to explain how to better interact with SpiceHeads. Generally the wave of follow-up emails dies down by the end of the year, but if the volume of email is an issue we suggest creating a new email address to register for SpiceWorld next year. Many IT pros own their own web domains, so it's generally a simple thing to create a [email protected] email.

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Top SpiceBuddies Advice for Surviving SpiceWorld

  • Attend our bootcamp sessions on Monday! This is a fantastic way to meet some friendly faces - both SpiceBuddies and other first-timers - as well as get some tips about SpiceWorld, Spiceworks, SpiceCorps, and all sorts of things.

  • Dress comfy! Comfortable and supportive shoes are a must, and clothes that will keep you comfy both in the convention center and outside are important.

  • Hydrate! Make sure you take care of yourself so you can enjoy the whole conference. There's usually a vendor or 2 giving out reusable water bottles.

  • Shop around before booking lodging! Check out the hotel blocks, Airbnb, VRBO, and any other similar sites to find the best deals. Book 4-6 months before the conference for the best prices!

  • Split lodgings with another person or 3! Lodging can be expensive, especially if you're staying in downtown. Splitting a hotel with another attendee is a great way to cut costs. The cheapest way to stay is to book a large Airbnb that can fit multiple people comfortably and split the cost.

  • Stay an extra day or 2! If you can swing it, it's definitely worth it to stay a couple extra days. There's some unofficial pre-SpiceWorld hangouts on Sunday afternoon/evening, and some post-SpiceWorld meetups on Thursday. This gives you time to explore Austin, attend more events, and rush less for your travel.

  • Scope out the weather before packing! It's often hot or rainy or both during SpiceWorld; make sure to pack accordingly. If it's gonna be super sunny, make sure to pack some sunscreen too - those of us from more northern climates will definitely burn spending too long outside in the Texas sun.

  • Missed out on the $99 ticket? Keep an eye on the SpiceWorld forum the entire month before SpiceWorld. There's always at least a half-dozen or more $99 tickets being offered for sale because the purchasers can no longer attend.

  • Save luggage room for swag! You'll get tons of it! Most veteran attendees don't even pack shirts because so many vendors give out shirts. If you're flying, you may want to consider packing an empty bag for swag that you can check on the way back (or use as a 2nd personal item/carry-on).

  • Network, network, network! SpiceWorld is great for making connections with reps at vendors as well as other IT pros. Don't eat lunch alone, and don't be afraid to strike up conversation with a stranger. You never know who'll you'll meet, or who might benefit from YOUR expertise!

  • Take time to decompress! This is especially important for introverts. Make sure to take care of yourself! There's lots of nooks and crannies in the convention center that are great to get a few quiet minutes alone to relax.

  • Bring snacks! A great way to save a few bucks is to hit up a grocery store or pack some non-perishable snacks to keep in your lodgings. Breakfast and lunch are provided Tues and Wed, and dinner is provided Tues, so having some snacks available in your room prevents you from having to go out for other meals.

  • Join Discord! Discord is a great way to network with people at the conference. You can hit up the #spiceduck or #spiceworld channels to find people to meet up with, rideshare with, ask about events going on, ask questions, pretty much anything! If you're not a drinker or into big parties, the Discord is a great way to find other like-minded SpiceHeads to hang out with. You can join by clicking here

  • Use the SpiceWorld app! The app is a fantastic organizational tool for the SpiceWorld! You can download it for Android or Apple and find a little more info in this thread. You can also use it to tag the vendors offering a Passport to Prizes stamp so you can easily find their booths on the map.

  • Plan a schedule beforehand! While you don't have to stick strictly to your schedule, it helps a ton to have a list of all the sessions and events you wanna attend along with their info. Your phone calendar is great to store this! You can also use the SpiceWorld app to put pins in various vendors as a reminder to hit up their booths.

  • Don't try to do everything! You'll burn yourself out if you try to do every single thing you planned. Keep your schedule as a loose guideline, and if you miss something remember there's always next year! It's a good idea to prioritize things that you know you won't have a chance to do again - such as listening to the keynote speakers.

  • Eat lots of BBQ and TexMex! Texas (and a lot of the south) is known for great barbecue, so if you're not from the area definitely try some out!

  • Hit up some food trucks! Food trucks are a huge culture in Austin, and their food is usually fantastic! You can check out a map of food trucks.

  • Spend time exploring! If you've got the time in the evenings, or before or after SpiceWorld, there's tons of stuff in Austin to check out. The Congress Bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony. There's a whole bunch of hidden speakeasies that are open to the public. 6th and Rainy streets are both great for bar hopping, and 6th is great for live music.

  • Try the scooters! There are Lime and Bird scooters all around downtown. In addition to being a cheap, quick way to travel around downtown, there are so much fun! Happy scootin'!

  • Scope out Spiceworks icons! There's some well-known faces you'll see wandering around. Grab a selfie with Jay if you see him; as one of the founders, this is all possible because of him. Dana is one of the masterminds behind SpiceWorld, and also hugely important to the SpiceBuddies program. Sean and Suzanne can often be found at the Spiceworks Hub; Sean's our Community Director and Suzanne works as a Community Manager, and because of them we have an amazing forum that runs pretty smoothly. SpiceDuck, the SpiceBuddies mascot can be found at our booth, and often makes an appearance at the welcome presentation, keynotes, final hurrahs, and various events.

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Adding the extra Spice to SpiceWorld since 2016!