By Richard Echeandia
This January over 8,000 people will descend on Orlando, Florida, "The Big Orange", for Lotusphere '99. What kind of people make up that chunk of humanity? Just some of largest Notes bigots on the planet, Lotus, IBM and Iris employees, Lotus Business Partners, Domino administrators, Notes and Domino developers and corporate free loaders looking for some warmth in the winter months. [That sounds like us! Warmth. We like warmth! --DG]
What's it like? What should you do and where should you go? Well, Lotusphere '99 will be my fifth Lotusphere and with this article, I hope to answer those questions and impart some of the lessons learned from prior years. This will hopefully be a fun article but remember many of the items regarding the conference haven't yet been finalized by Lotus. So in addition to this article, check out the other sources of information listed at the end of the article.
What's it all about? Lotusphere is the annual pilgrimage of the Lotus faithful to one of two spots worldwide to get the latest information on Lotus products, get trained on their technologies and meet with other members of the Domino, SmartSuite and cc:Mail community of users. Which Lotusphere is right for you? I know many people who come from France, Germany and Great Britain to Orlando, Florida. They're almost completely unanimous in stating that the US version of Lotusphere has many more vendors, is better attended, and has more energy. [Plus, it has theme parks, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, cranky locals, and hot tubs. -- DG] So, unless you really like the weather in Berlin in September, you'll probably want to come to the US Lotusphere.
For the purpose of our discussion, I'll divide this article into several stages of planning and execution: getting ready to go, going and once you're there.
Long range planning
Believe it or not, it isn't too early to start planning for the Lotusphere 2000! This year Lotusphere sold out in seven days. Not exactly Pink Floyd tickets, but pretty close in terms of a business conference. If you've been left out in the cold this year, you'll want to avoid missing out next year. Here's how you can plan ahead.
Get your PO approved first, then get a ticket
With an increasingly small window from the time of announcement to the time of sell-out, Lotusphere is a tough ticket to get. My advice to you is start prepping your boss NOW for next year. If you wait for Lotus to announce the dates and then starting getting your company's required approvals, you'll probably be disappointed. Go to the Web and download a copy of the registration form (available at http://www.event-online.com/lotusphere99). [We have occasionally found this link to be a little inconsistent. --DG] Pull it into your word processor and with a little judicious editing (all in the name of clarity of course!) you'll have the document which you can attach to your travel/PO request form for your company's internal processes. You know how long these things take in your company better than I do, so leave yourself enough time to get it approved before the tickets go on sale.