Top Ten Things to Do NOW
for FLOAT 2019
As we get closer and closer to the start of FLOAT 2019, here's a list of things you should be either working on now or getting finished so that you can more thoroughly enjoy your time with us in St. Louis!
1. Book Your Hotel Room NOW - If you have not already done this, you REALLY need to get this handled this quickly. FLOAT's host hotel, the St. Louis Airport Marriott, sells out every year and it can happen at any time during December. Yes, the website says the last day for discounted rooms is December 26th, but that's ONLY if the hotel has not sold out. Once it sells out, it sells out. And that means you'll be left to find another hotel to stay in.
Here's another bit of good news....FLOAT's host hotel offers a free shuttle to and from the airport, so that's one thing you don't have to worry about arranging or paying for!
2. Get Your Travel Arrangements Secured - No matter whether you are coming to FLOAT by plane, bus or train, ticket prices never get cheaper as you get closer to the date you need them. So it's a REALLY good idea to get your tickets secured sooner than later.
Now, with Cyber Monday Deals, you might be able to score some cheap airline tickets if you haven't already done so.
And if you are driving to FLOAT, make sure you're putting aside your gas money now! But remember that parking at FLOAT's host hotel is free for FLOATers who are also registered guests at the hotel. If you're not staying at the St. Louis Airport Marriott, well....let's just say parking won't be free....
3. Review Optional Classes - Yes, you get ten free 90-minute class sessions with your registration to FLOAT 2019. However, many people ask for added opportunities to learn at the convention, so we created optional Master and Bonus Classes at FLOAT.
When we say optional, we say this because the costs of these classes are not included in your registration fee. In other words, you have to pay extra to take them.
Many of these classes will sell out before the convention starts, as is the case already with two of our Master and two of our Bonus Classes. And undoubtedly more will sell out between now and the convention, so if you wait too long to sign up you might lose out.
Plus on top of that, prices for these classes will increase after January 15th. So let's say you're lucky enough to get into the class you want to take, but you might end up paying more for it.
So take a good look at the various offerings and if you think you want to take one or two, get signed up for them now. Remember, unlike your registration fee (which is 100% non-refundable after December 1) Master and Bonus Class fees are refundable if you change your mind.
4. Order Your Academic FLOATBook - How would you like to get your hands on ALL the class notes for all 26 of FLOAT's general classes? Well, you can! You just have to order the Academic FLOATBook.
Look, you just can't possibly go to FLOAT and take 26 classes adequately in a 10-class session period. So for the low cost of only $40.00 US, you can purchase your own copy of the Academic FLOATBook and get all the notes from all the general classes, whether you take them or not.
But we need to be very clear here. There's always someone at FLOAT who thinks that they don't have to buy the FLOATBook and they'll just get the notes from the classes they take. That is incorrect. We do NOT hand out individual class notes in the general sessions. Bottom line is we can't possibly do this when we don't require pre-enrollment; there's just no way to know how many people are going to walk into a classroom. And we're not prepared to print off 350 copies of each class just in case it completely fills up, so if you choose not to purchase the FLOATBook, you're on your own for taking notes.
Now here's another thing. The Academic FLOATBook does NOT contain the notes from optional classes, like the Master and Bonus sessions. Those ARE handed out individually in class because people paid extra to be in those classes and we DO know exactly how many people are going to be there. So if you want those notes, you'll have to enroll in those classes and pay the extra fee.
5. Create a Budget - Look, just because you've paid your registration to FLOAT and gotten your airfare covered doesn't mean there aren't going to be other expenses along the way. You need to plan out for how much your hotel, food and extras are going to cost.
Are you planning on doing any site seeing when you're in St. Louis? Maybe you'll want to stay an extra day or come in early so you can do that before or after the convention. Either way, it's extra costs you need to consider as you plan.
Also remember that FLOAT's Vendor Showcase encourages their participants to have things to sell that you can take home right then and there. From equipment to supplies to fun new gadgets, FLOAT's vendors often include discounted deals to go with their wares. So if you don't plan for that, you won't be able to take advantage of these opportunities.
6. Connect with Others and Build a Team - No, I don't mean for the competitions (but of course, if you ARE competing this applies to you as well!) but let's face it...conventions are always better with friends. So before you head to FLOAT, make sure you "establish a tribe" of friendly faces to hang with and better enjoy the convention.
So maybe you're new to the convention and don't have a lot of friends who are balloon people? No problem! Here's two big pieces of advice for you:
A. Make sure you go to the FLOAT 101 session on Sunday, January 27th, right before Opening Night. There not only will you get some pointers on how to best handle the convention, but you'll also meet a whole bunch of other people there who don't know anyone either! What a great chance to make a friend!
B. Have you joined the FLOAT Facebook group yet? If not, click here to join right now! There you can connect with lots of people headed to St. Louis in January!
7. Start Working on Your Press Release BEFORE You Go - When people get back from a convention, there's always so much to catch up on. And while everyone knows they should do it, the press release tends to get put off in place of more pressing issues. Eventually it can get forgotten about and then it's too late to do one!
It doesn't matter if you're competing, teaching or just attending....you should absolutely do a press release on your involvement in FLOAT. After all, it's an international educational convention featuring over 400 balloon artists from literally around the world. If you're in a small town, you're almost guaranteed a story because they're always looking for interesting content. And if you're in a big town, they might just save your info for a later date when they need a good human interest story. You just never know.
There are all kinds of articles online about writing press releases....grab one and get started!
8. Get Your Marketing Materials Ready - Always make sure you have plenty of business cards, flyers or brochures, whatever you want to hand out to other professionals you meet. Plus vendors will often use business cards for giveaway drawings and you do NOT want to be that person with the plain white piece of paper shoved in the jar....it just doesn't look good.
Plus on top of that, make sure you bring along your portfolio. Now don't bring entire photo albums....just bring along a dozen or so of your favorite designs and creations so that you can share during our first ever "FLOAT Gallery" event during the Foil Jam on Monday, January 28th. There people can bring and exchange their portfolios as well as create sculptures and designs and show them off in front of everyone! It's just another fun opportunity to exchange ideas and inspiration, so you'll want a portfolio so you can join in the fun.
9. Plan Your Time - Take a good look at the FLOAT Academic and Activity Schedule and plan out your stay in St. Louis. Pick your classes in advance, but also create a Plan B in case you walk into a maxed out classroom. Look into being part of a build team for either Opening Night or the Designer Awards Gala. Schedule times to network with other delegates, eat your meals and just have fun! The more you plan ahead, the better your experience will be!
10. Get Your Outfits Ready for Opening Night and the DAG - Yes, believe it or not, we take your attire at FLOAT seriously....well, sort of.
FLOAT's Opening Night event is always themed, but it's also got an unofficial theme of "ORANGE You Glad FLOAT is Back?" to it. So everyone wears orange! Orange shirts, orange hats, orange feather boas, orange tutus, you name it, they wear it! So if you want to join in the fun, bring along something fun that's orange to FLOAT for Opening Night.
Now our final night event is known as the Designer Awards Gala, or DAG for short. It's always a semi-formal affair, but formal attire is also both accepted and encouraged. Just PLEASE do not be that person who shows up in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.....this is a professional forum and you are expected to conduct yourself accordingly.
And this year we are asking all of our delegates to wear something green to the DAG in honor of our fallen friend and fellow FLOAT Family member, Deborah Fellman, who passed away earlier this year.