|2016 AAA Five-Diamond Kai Restaurant Terrace, Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa | 2016 BlogPaws Destination|
I bought my early bird-rate*, full blogger pass to the 2016 BlogPaws conference in Phoenix, AZ a year in advance (like right after I got home from the 2015 conference in Nashville). Because I'm a bargain hunter. And folks - for all the resort-quality food that was coming with that (practically free), three-day pass (plus maybe a bonus ice cream social the Wednesday evening before, and a red-carpet, sit-down awards affair the last night) - even if I fell in a sinkhole and temporarily lost the ability to type another blog post - there was no way I was letting that deal pass me by. I just love to eat food someone else prepared (and will clean up) too dang much!
Don't think I only go to BlogPaws for the food, though. Nope, I go for the important, professional reasons most other people do: networking (a fancy word for talking to like-minded, pet people); learning about things that can help me get ahead in my pet-centric career endeavors; and getting in front of brand people who might want to pay me some day (for my influence, or writing, because I've worked my tail off to get this far and getting paid is a necessity in life), among other things.
But I'm here today to tell you: there's more. I don't go for purely professional reasons; I go for all these rave-worthy UN-professional ones, too!
|I took this photo from inside my poolside cabana at the 2014 BlogPaws in Las Vegas.|
1. People (and their pets)-watching.
Introverts will truly appreciate this...No matter where you are in the main conference venue, if you take a seat for a little "me" time (there will be plenty of seats to take; it's a hotel lobby and conference center), you'll spy all sorts of people and their pets. Just like at the mall, or airport, but with a heaping side of critters! It's a sight that I can't even justify with my words. You just have to experience it to appreciate it!
Pausing to simply "watch" is also a great way to get one's bearings after just arriving at the conference. Without a doubt, you'll notice people congregating in areas; that's a sure sign that something important is going on! When your "me" time is over, you'll definitely want to head that way and investigate. You might even get to meet a pet industry celebrity!
|Oh, yes it is. Instagram sensation, Priscilla pig (@prissy_pig) with 599k followers, at BlogPaws 2015.|
2. Pet-industry celebrity sightings.
Ever watched the old Animal Planet Dogs and Cats 101 shows? They were popular in the network's line-up about five years ago. Here are the Animal Planet synopses.
Anyway, each show featured a panel of pet experts who would introduce and describe particular breeds of dogs and cats. I - along with most every human in my house - have seen every episode. Some episodes (Cardigan Welsh Corgi) I've viewed an obscene number of times (and I'd do it again). Well, one of the show's regular expert panelists was nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and radio host, as well as Chicago Tribune blogger, Steve Dale.
|Steve Dale and his pooches via Dogster|
My point is, you never know who you'll see at BlogPaws! But I'm telling you, there will be pet industry celebrities there (including some who are pets themselves)! Oh, and Steve Dale is SPEAKING this year! (I'll just be the one hiding her splotchy red face in the corner.☺)
|Donkey shirt at BlogPaws? You bet your @ss!|
In layperson's terms: You get to let your crazy pet lady (or dude) flag fly! Oh my gosh, y'all! I loooooove getting to wear my "Ask Me About My Cats" t-shirt, corgi ring and earrings, cat necklace, cat print boots and shoes, and carry both my personalized Dewi and Jon Farleigh needle-felted bags from Etsy! I could go on! Yes, I love getting to display my inner self on the outside almost as much as hunting for more pet-themed adornments to pack for the next BlogPaws! (Guess who just scored a screaming deal on an animal print dress for the Nose-to-Nose awards in Phoenix? ME! Aagh!)
But don't worry, if your wardrobe is light on pets, you'll get a fabulous, free BlogPaws conference t-shirt (last year it had dogs and cats on it) at registration, and you might even get to fashion yourself a pair of cat ears or glasses in the Cat Style Lounge! Yay!
4. That euphoric, out-of-body, stupefying, and otherwise indescribable feeling you get when you meet a close online friend in person for the first time.
|Laurie was my blogging idol!|
OMG! Like your mind flew straight out your ear and is floating about two feet above your head looking down, that's what! Like your brain is seeing them speak, but it can't reconcile their face to their voice. It's nuts! And it's happened to me at all four BlogPaws conferences! (And you can bet I'm already making a list of people to find and speak to this year!)
|How I spent my "me" time at BlogPaws 2014 (The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa)|
5. IT'S A VACATION!
Some people like to use the term "working vacation" to cover themselves when they're having too much fun doing "work" at a place where most people go to have a vacation. I guess I'm OK with that. But what if even the work feels like a vacation? Let me think...It's a vacation! Have you ever taken three kids to Disney World in August? Never mind. My point is, yes, BlogPaws is fast-paced, it's busy, there's a lot to absorb, you might get outside your comfort zone a bit...but it's so. much. FUN! The hotel is pampering (especially when it's a resort hotel like this year), you're surrounded by dogs and cats, and people you feel like you've known your whole life, there's a ton of food (in case you forgot), entertainment, built-in night-on-the-town (or by the pool with a waterslide) time, TWO happy hours, a red carpet awards affair, free stuff galore to take home to your pets, and memories that might last you a lifetime.
Though, I can't guarantee - while you're having all that fun - you won't end up opening a career door or two, like I did.☺ (But who cares - don't let anybody tell you it's not a vacation! It is! A vacation with career benefits. OK, I'll be quiet now.)
* The early-bird rate has expired, but even the regular rate is a huge deal, y'all! Have you ever been on, or heard someone else brag about, the food on a cruise ship? How it's so plentiful? Well, this is what I'm talking about. BlogPaws is like a pet person's conference cruise on land! And I've been on a cruise, so I should know! Wait! I didn't even mention the conference venue - Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa! It's in a desert oasis! Check it out!
But wait! Use my discount code and get 10% off the already reasonable, regular blogger rate (and by blogger, they mean conference cruise passengers. OK, not really, but don't let the word "blogger" hold you back; its umbrella covers lots of people).
** Are you going? Yay! Now remember - after you go to BlogPaws in Phoenix this June - to snatch up that BlogPaws 2017 early-bird rate as soon as you get home!