Pubcon is one of the nation’s biggest SEO-related conferences, with upwards of 3000 people attending it’s Vegas event yearly. It has been going for many years, and hosts some of the most terrific panels on everything from social media to video. I’ve never been to a big conference like Pubcon, so I didn’t know what to expect.

Before the event, I tweeted that I was wondering if there was a list of things that are suggested to bring, but no one stepped up and sent me any links. So I had to make some assumptions and do the best I could.

What I Remembered

I remembered my laptop, which actually isn’t a necessity. It’s nice because I enjoy the interactivity of the conference, but pen and paper work just as well. I also remembered a jacket, which is good because Vegas in November (at least this November) is cool. About 48 degrees on day one.


As with most conferences, I made assumptions that some things would be provided, and in some cases I was wrong. This year, as maybe in years past, they gave a nice bag full of goodies at the registration desk. I learned quickly that carrying my laptop around like a schoolbook sucked, so I thought the bag would be a great tool. The bag, unfortunately is a bit small, and the handles are short. So a backpack is probably the number one item I wish I would have brought along.

While on the topic of freebies, there are a lot of them. The vendor area this year had about 16 or so companies represented (which is apparently nowhere near the amount of vendors at SMX and SES), and most of them were giving things away. They were smart, though – they didn’t put out all their goodies on day one, so bringing your backpack or Pubcon bag is definitely an every day requirement. On day two there were about five different companies giving out T-shirts, plus one giving out beer (yeah, beer) in a mug, another giving out nice pint glasses, and lots of other various sundries.

Things I Shoulda Brought

This list will obviously change for each person, but here’s a list of things I wish I had brought.

By the way, I’ve learned that the official pickup line at Pubcon seems to be ‘Where are you from?’. I’ve been asked that question by many of the people I’ve sat next to at the various sessions and food breaks.

The Sessions

At Pubcon, there were a small amount of tables/chairs with extension cords/outlets, and they weren’t easy to get. If you’ve got a laptop, you’re going to be part of a special crew of people that leave sessions a few minutes early so you can make it to the next one and find a outlet. If you have a second battery, you definitely want to bring it along.

I also learned that picking sessions simply by their title is not always the best strategy. After the first day I realized that most people pick them out by who’s going to be on the panel, and that was probably a good idea. It doesn’t bode well for the newer speakers to the circuit, but from my experience the best panels were done by the most well-known panelists. For instance, the panel on SEO 2010 with Greg Boser was just terrific, even though his presentation wouldn’t work. That one session was worth the price of admission, to me. There’s a reason they are well known – they know what the hell they’re talking about.

Other Notes

Hotel selection can save you money. Paying an extra $20 a day for a closer room may be better than taking a taxi back and forth to the event. We stayed at the Encore, which is next to the host hotel, the Wynn. Pubcon provided a free shuttle from and to the Wynn for the event, but it’s best to find out how to catch that shuttle way ahead of time. I ended up missing it the first day because I couldn’t find the pickup spot.

Probably one of the biggest conference must-have tool is a twitter-friendly phone. If you’re an active user, it’s a great way to see what is going on both at the event and after. My phone (Palm Treo Pro) is not the best and most friendly when it comes to twitter, so either have a twitter-friendly phone or miss out on a lot of the after-conference tweets.

One Response

  1. Those are great basics Will and nearly all of us learn these things as we go. For Vegas, I nearly always choose a hotel based on location to the convention center (think Marriott next door or hotels along monorail), I also travel w/backpack and items you mentioned. What I forgot this time around was chapstick, was not expecting it to be so dry. See you next year!

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