VMworld EMEA 2016 – Tips and Tricks

VMworld US has come to an end and VMworld EMEA is only 41 days far off. Preparation for this event has already started. This is the perfect time to give some advice or tips & tricks for people who will attend VMworld for their first time as well as for recurring attendees. These tips & tricks are the outcome of 7 previous attended VMworlds (1x US, 6x EMEA). Some of these are general for both, US and EMEA conference and some are especially for EMEA conference.

General Tips & Tricks

Wear comfortable shoes and clothes – my preference for dress code is Jeans, T-Shirt/Polo and sneakers. Use wear in shoes, you don’t want to have blisters at your first day at VMworld. If you are a vExpert, CiscoChampion, EMCElect or any other community award holder don’t forget to bring your customized T-Shirt/Polo if you have one with you.
Use large luggage – when you visit the Solution Exchange you will get a lot of vendor swag especially T-shirts you have to carry home! 🙂
Attend Partner day / TAM day – there is a special day for partners where you get the latest info about the partner program, how to sell products, acquiring new customers, etc. On the same day there is also a TAM day, where customers who have a TAM (Technical Account Manager) can join great exclusive sessions. Personal note: I only attended Partner day once and it was a waste of time if you’re a deep technical person. For company partner managers or people who are responsible for the partner program in their companies it’s not bad.
Get certified – If you want to get certified with VCP or VCAP/VCIX use the 50% off promotion when you are at VMworld. This can save you 200$ when doing a VCAP/VCIX. I always used partner day for exam scheduling so I don’t miss the other cool stuff. Let’s see if I schedule some exams this year. Personal note: Don’t do 2 VCAPs on one day. Did this once and it was really exhausting and cold after 8 hours in the certification room.
VCDX workshop– At the moment there is no information if there will be a VCDX workshop at VMworld EMEA. As soon I have more information I will post it here as an update. If you pursue VCDX then this is a must attend. For more information follow Chris Colotti, Karl Childs or #VCDX on twitter.
Schedule your session – When scheduling your sessions do not schedule to many sessions. You will have long walks between the sessions especially at the EMEA conference and you will do other stuff beside sessions like visiting the Solution Exchange, doing some labs or get in touch with other people. Remember that all sessions are recorded and will be available for all attendees as well as for all VMUG advantage subscribers. Personal note: The last 3 VMworlds I only scheduled 1-2 sessions. For me networking is more important.
Network, Network, Network – This is for me the most important reason why I’m attending VMworld. It’s once a year where I can meet all the tweeps, bloggers, vRockstars of the community and maybe blog readers, if there are any :). Get in touch with everyone you know and would like to talk to. Don’t be shy, say hello they are people like you and me.
Solutions Exchange – The Solutions Exchange is my second most important reason for VMworld. There you will get a pretty good overview across the whole ecosystem. I’m a technology junkie and I like to learn what’s new and what’s hot in the industry and the Solutions Exchange is a great place to satisfy this curiosity.
Vendor Swag – You probably can pack your luggage with only one shirt because you will get a lot of shirts in the Solutions Exchange. Try to get most of the swag you want at the first day when the Solution Exchange is open because on later days there range of sizes available will drop to M or XL. L is always “sold-out” really quick.
Attend Parties – there are a lot of vendor parties everyday. The best I was at were Veeam, PernixData, Nutanix and certainly VMworld Party itself. If you’re a vExpert or VCDX you should also attend vExpert/VCDX party. There is no recommendation how many parties you should attend. I have scheduled last year 3 parties a night and it was not optimal because they were spread across Barcelona which means a lot of travel time. I would recommend a maximum of 2 parties a night if you need to juggle to many balls at once or how I like to call it in austrian german “Mit an Oarsch auf 10 Kirtog sei”.
Taking pictures – You can take pictures at VMworld with your DSRL if you have one, but keep in mind you need to carry it and the lens(es) with you. With the backpack (incl. Laptop) and the DSRL bag it’s getting very heavy over time. So use a small camera – it should be sufficient even when you take pictures of the general sessions. I carry a Canon S110 with me for videos and photos which is also pretty good when it comes to low light situations.
Get a Twitter account – it’s easier to get in touch and follow people. You will also get a lot of information when using twitter e.g. new blog posts or information about parties at VMworld. Don’t forget your twitter handle during ticket registration. It’s much easier when it’s on your badge.
Prepaid SIM Cards – Data roaming is still very expensive, so I would recommend buying a local SIM if you need mobile internet access. I found this site which is unfortunately german language only. It has a variety of SIM cards from nearly all countries around the world and shipping is for free worldwide. Only the costs per SIM is a little bit high from my view, but it’s the best way to get one before starting the journey. For VMworld EMEA check the Prepaid SIM Card section below. IMPORTANT: Don’t forget the tool to open the SIM card slot!
Charge It – You will use your mobile devices a lot during the conference, so be prepared to have some power banks with you. Personal Note: I used vendor swag power banks recently and they are all crap. Get as a minimum a 10k mAh bank. I’m currently looked at this guy and I maybe will buy it. Looks good with a lot of positive customer reviews.
AC power plugs – If you come from the US, UK or Irland we have here in Barcelona AC power sockets for power cords using Type E and F connectors. In the US they are using Type A and B connector and UK/Ireland using Type G connectors. That means you would need a converter when using your default power cords. From the experience of my recent travels I saw that the hotel rooms I booked were lacking power sockets. Sometimes I had 2 and sometimes only 1 I could use. With 3-4 devices this is not so good. Therefor I found this beauty. It’s a power cube with 4 output ports, 2 USB ports and has 4 interchangeable wall plugs. Just search in an Amazon Store near you after “allocacoc PowerCube DuoUSB ReWirable”.
Drink, Drink, Drink – And I don’t mean alcohol (except for the parties). A typical IT person disease is to drink too little over a long distance of time. There are a lot of refrigerators spread across the venue, so grab your water or two and drink it. In my case a lot of drinking will also help with headache.
Alcohol – As I said there are a lot of parties and a lot of alcohol. Don’t drink to much because the next morning starts early and you don’t want to miss something. Personal note: There were 2 parties where I didn’t listen to myself and the next morning still starts early. 🙂

EMEA conference Tips & Tricks

Watch your wallet – In Barcelona there are a lot of pickpockets so don’t put your wallet in the back pocket or it may get stolen.
Be wary of the coloured women of the night – When attending the Veeam party located at the Shoko Club or when e.g. walking around the Las Ramblas at night you will see multiple coloured ladies hanging around. Some of them try to provide sex, other try to paw you. Be aware of them and secure your goods and I mean wallets and mobiles :). Always try to stay in groups and don’t get to much drunk.
Free time – if you have free time, take the opportunity to visit the most interesting spots in Barcelona (Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, Las Ramblas, Gothic quarter). One personal recommendation if you want to buy fresh fruits and fresh fruit juices visit the La Boqueria market (Maps), it’s quite in the middle of the Las Ramblas. Just take the Metro L3 (green line) in the direction of Trinitat Nova and get out at Liceu.
Public transportation – If it’s like the last years you will get a free public transportation pass with 10 rides sponsored by a vendor. If you need more and trust me you will need more except when taking a taxi, you can buy a multi-person travel card (T10, 10 rides) starting at 9.95€ depending on zones you will need. Getting to the conference center (Fira Barcelona Gran Via, north entrance) could be little bit different this year if you have already attended a VMworld in Barcelona before. In 2016 metro line L9 was opened which has a station called Fira where you will be directly at the north entrance. To get there you can use the lines L8, S4, S8, R5, R6 or S33 from Placa Espanya to Europa Fira station or Metro line L1 to Torrassa. From there change to metro L9s (direction Airport) and leave it at station Fira. Here you download the most recent metro plan. In previous years there was always a shuttle bus service from station Europa Fira to the conference center but I think with the new metro L9 this will be obsolete. If you’re using public transportation to get to parties be aware of the operating hours of the metro which are mostly only until midnight. After that you need to take a taxi.
Taxi – When using taxis to get somewhere in Barcelona always ask if the they take credit cards and don’t forget the receipt for your expenses. Be also aware that there are 4 different fares depending on day and time.
Airport transfer – There are shuttle buses which goes directly from the BCN Airport to the conference center. Search for the ladies with the VMworld sign! 🙂 This year you can also take the metro L9 and go directly to the conference center located at station Fira.
Prepaid SIM Cards – Vodafone Spain has a really great offer called the tourist SIM card. You will get 60min for either international or national calls and 3GB traffic volume for mobile internet for only 15€. There is one Vodafone shop at the airport so get your SIM there. The SIM is a combined SIM (Normal, Micro, Nano).
Attend #vRockStar Party – if you’re in Barcelona on Sunday then you have to attend vRockstar party invented by Marco Broeken and Patrick Redknap. Follow these guys on twitter to get the latest updates about the party. In recent years it took place at the Hard Rock Cafe Barcelona.
Attend #vBreakfast – it’s something I invented for the EMEA conference. It’s my version of Shane Williford’s vBreakfast US 🙂 More on this in a seperate post.
Carry a vest/light jacket with you – October in Barcelona is quite warm (20-24°C) but the conference facilities are all air conditioned and it’s getting a little bit cold inside. If you will take an exam DON’T take a vest/jacket with you because you have to take it off for the exam (security guidelines). Use a sweater or something similar instead. See my exam experience here.

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