The countdown is on: 28 days until the start of the 2014 USANA International Convention (#USANA14)!
It’s set for Aug. 27-30, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Whether you’re a first-timer or a convention pro, there’s always so much to see and do it can seem a bit overwhelming.
Not to worry; we’ve got you covered.
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With a little planning, you’ll be prepared to take full advantage of everything convention — #USANA14 for social media types — has to offer. And to help you along the way, Kathleen Rockney, a USANA Gold Director who will be attending her 20th convention, graciously shares with What’s Up, USANA? readers her list of Convention Travel Tips (it’s the fourth year she’s shared her invaluable information on the blog).
Here we go…
This year’s convention theme — IGNITED!
We are weeks away from a life-changing convention, so I thought I’d send out my annual convention tips list…with a few updates from last year!
First … three websites to access:
- USANA Convention Website — Includes agenda, speakers, training stage seminars, breakout sessions, FAQs, and hotel reservations to view or modify. The general daily schedule and training stage topics are now posted (with more specific schedules coming soon), so you can start to pre-plan your days. Check these frequently as schedules are subject to change. Hot Tip: USANA offers a free convention app for smartphones to keep agendas, maps, etc., at our fingertips leading up to and throughout #USANA14! Download it now for Apple and for Android.
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA) — At this time, we are still allowed 3-ounce liquid/gel bottles in carry-on if we put them all in a quart-sized clear Ziploc bag, and they fit comfortably in one Ziploc per passenger. Your separate prescription meds, including spare contact lenses, can be put in another Ziploc for easy clearing by the agents. Remember, we may leave our laptops inside their bags if the bags comply with TSA guidelines.
- Weather Underground — Keep watching the weather reports so you can be prepared for possible rain. Also, late August can be hot during the day, and chilly at night. A 30-degree swing in temperature is not uncommon.
Next … confirm your reservations:
- The week or so before convention, confirm your airline reservation. A few days before, it’s helpful to confirm your hotel reservation directly with the hotel (not before, because they won’t yet have the reservation list from Passkey). Find out if your hotel provides airport-to-hotel shuttle service. Xpress Shuttle is an inexpensive downtown hotel shuttle service at the airport if your hotel doesn’t offer one for free. Or three of you can share a taxi for the 15-minute trip to downtown. It’s $8 one way per person for the Xpress Shuttle, and about $20 + tip for a taxi, regardless of number of passengers.
And now, tips to help you get the most out of an incredible event:
1. Pack comfortable shoes. Definitely pack more than one pair because the Salt Palace (Registration, Store, Training Stages, etc. — aka Convention Center) and Energy Solutions Arena (General Sessions — aka ESA) are HUGE! The TSA recommends that all shoes be packed on top of your suitcase contents, in case the suitcase needs to be opened for inspection.
2. Dress in layers. Always have a sweater or a jacket with you for inside the cool convention center. The last few years, the Salt Palace was very chilly. Have an umbrella as well. I’ve been caught in a few showers running from the hotel into the center. Plus, the Wednesday night USANAfest party is held outside.
3. Keep an eye on the weather. Check Salt Lake City weather the week before you pack because mid-August begins a shifting weather pattern in Utah. (And I mean SHIFTING! Could be very hot, could be cold. Could be BOTH!)
4. Bring an empty small suitcase. Or a large purse or even a collapsible duffel bag or tote for bringing home purchased items as a carry-on. USANA always has sales in the store inside the Salt Palace — product sales, logo merchandise sales and business tool sales. Bringing these items home with you on the airplane saves on shipping (Check for extra fees for checked luggage. More and more airlines are charging even for the first checked bag, though some offer a discount if you check in early online, or if you pay for your ticket with their supported credit card.). NOTE: If you do prefer to ship home, a UPS station is now in the USANA shopping area in the Salt Palace, and a USPS post office (with free priority mail boxes) is within walking distance. Direct shipping might be cheaper than paying for a checked bag.
5. General attire is smart business casual. Remember that you are representing USANA to the public as you wear your convention badge. So kick it up a notch, and leave the jeans or shorts for another time. Dress for success! And bring your latest rank pin to wear proudly!
Three exceptions to business attire…
5A. USANAfest outdoors. This year’s Wednesday evening opening celebration/concert — USANAfest — is on the plaza outside EnergySolutions Arena from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Grab a healthy early supper — hmmmm…maybe a USANA Nutrimeal? — and arrive early! Dress in layers that night. This is one night where jeans are totally fine! Rumor has it that this year is a beach party theme. Hot Tip: If you haven’t yet made airline reservations, make sure you consider either a Tuesday arrival or early Wednesday arrival, so you’re rested for this first NETWORKING event!
5B. **NEW** Thursday night “Recognizing You” event. Our popular “Oscars Style” evening event is back! You’ll have time for a light dinner, and be sure to arrive in your best dress (party/evening attire) for a combination of entertainment and top awards (many other awards will be presented throughout convention). Then migrate to the Salt Palace at 9:30 p.m. for food and dance!
5C. Run (or walk) for a good cause. Remember to throw in your workout clothing and walking/running shoes for this year’s Saturday morning Champions for Change 5K race. You can pre-register now, then pick up your number and commemorative T-shirt at the True Health Foundation booth when you arrive at convention. Proceeds from your entry fee and any additional donations you gather go to the USANA True Health Foundation.
6. Bring your camera. Always have your camera with you for that spur-of-the-moment photo op with Dr. Wentz or other leaders — and to post photos on Facebook showing your friends all the fun you’re having! Be sure you bring your camera charger with you as well to recharge at the hotel. Hot Tip: Social media will be conducting a #USANAselfie photo contest throughout convention. You’ll definitely want your camera so you can participate. Look for more details on What’s Up, USANA? on Aug. 11.
7. Bring extra pens for writing, and notebook paper. Often, USANA provides notepaper or leaves space in their Convention booklet, but it never hurts to bring your own. Plan to take lots of notes and even journal your experiences (and your feelings in the middle of the experience.) Hot Tip: Bring a mini-flashlight if you think you might want to take notes when the lights are down! If you have a smartphone, there are free flashlight apps to help you.
8. Bring a tote bag for your pens, paper, binders, etc. Again, in some years past, USANA provided tote bags. But I remember tossing in that spare tote bag the years that they didn’t provide them. Boy, was I glad I did!
9. Pack the business cards. You’ll want to swap as many cards as you can as you connect with other USANA Associates and even corporate leaders and staff.
Take a break to eat & drink…
10. Buy bottled water once you arrive, and drink LOTS of it. You’ll want to remain hydrated in Salt Lake City’s high altitude and dry climate. Some folks pack a portable water pitcher with filter to filter the hotel water. Hot Tip: Regardless of the source of your water, pack a BPA-free (Bisphenol A is a chemical found in some plastics that can leach into your water, especially if exposed to warm temperatures) plastic bottle or a glass water bottle for carrying your water around with you.
10A. Bring USANA Protein Snacks to snack on. These are great on the airplane, for quick snacks in Salt Lake City, and during convention sessions. I don’t mind hearing the crackling of a Protein Snack wrapper, during the sessions! 😉
10B. Bring Nutrimeal. This is great to not only save $$, but also to enjoy a very healthy meal in your hotel room! Our collapsible Nutrimeal bags (both full size and single-serve size) are perfect for packing! My husband, Bill, and I like to pre-mix our favorite combination of flavors into one gusset bag each (remember to put the scoop inside) and then reinforce its opening with extra masking tape. Or, you can bring Nutrimeal and/or Fibergy Plus in their separate gusset bags or Ziploc bags with scoops inside to mix and match as you desire. For packing, we place them inside a gallon-sized Ziploc, just in case of powder leakage.
10C. Bring a BlenderBottle®. Great to mix your shake with hotel ice and your bottled/filtered water. My favorite travel appliance is an electric hand-blender wand from either Braun or Oster, because I prefer the consistency that a blender provides. It works great for crushing hotel room ice and making a nice, slushy drink. The last several years, USANA offered a smoothie booth in the Salt Palace where you could purchase blended USANA drinks.
10D. Bring your Rev3. Bring a handful of the lightweight Rev3 Surge packs to add to your mid-morning or mid-afternoon water for that additional healthy lift (if you bring the cans you’ll be swamped by Rev3-starved friends)!
And we’re back…
11. Bring your Sensé facial care products! Also bring your Sensé shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, shower gel and hand therapy to keep your hair/body moisturized in the dry, higher altitude. Of course, include your USANA toothpaste as well! (Most of our regular-sized facial products meet the 3-ounce or less rule for carry-on. The rest needs to go in your checked luggage).
12. USANA vitamins. Our HealthPak and MyHealthPak offer convenient packing. I put two days worth of vitamins inside my one-quart Ziploc bag allowed in carry-on, and pack all my other vitamins in a checked-in piece of luggage. Our tablets should be fine in carry-on (CoQuinone, Palmetto Plus and BiOmega might be considered a gel, though), but I want to be 100% sure of clearing the TSA agents, and two days worth of vitamins will hold me over in case the checked bag is temporarily lost. If you fill a pill tray with your USANA vitamins, put two days worth in your quart Ziploc in your carry-on bag, and pack the rest of the tray in your checked luggage. Also note, the handy HealthPak and MyHealthPak pillow packs are perfect for packing in carry-ons.
13. Use your breaks to shop — especially Wednesday. The USANA Store will have USANA products, logo merchandise and business tools. As new products are announced, there will be more product specials at the USANA Store. On Wednesday, I do my serious logo merchandise purchasing. I also do any current-product purchasing that I need/want, or is on sale. The rest of the time, I add purchases as new products or sales tools are introduced.
Special “plug” for product: If you see Cappuccino Nutrimeal available, buy TONS so I can convince Kevin Guest to make it a “regular” flavor! LOL! 36-40 gusset bags are a one-year’s supply!
13A: Handy receipt tip. Since products that we consume aren’t tax deductible, but logo merchandise and business tools are, I separate them out at the cashier and run them as separate orders. That way, I can file the receipts easily as either business or personal expenditures.
14. Current airport regulations. If you haven’t flown for several years, airline security rules have eased a bit for a few items. We can now travel with nail clippers, tweezers, eye-glass repair kits, etc., in carry-on. Also, be aware airports still require that your checked luggage be unlocked. A good alternative is to purchase a TSA-approved lock. It keeps your luggage safely locked and closed, and the airport has its own key to unlock it, if they feel the need to search your checked bags. Otherwise, use a strong twist-tie to at least keep your suitcase zippers closed, yet unlocked. I also pack a few extra TSA locks, because sometimes the agents lose or break my approved TSA lock somehow in the clearing process.
15. Bring your cell phone. Cell phones are a godsend at convention. So before you leave for convention, swap cell phone numbers with everyone you know that you might want to contact for lunch or a meeting. Also, be aware that cell phones should be turned off or put on vibrate inside all the meetings and seminars. That’s just etiquette! And, remember to pack your cell phone charger to recharge back in your hotel room. Hot Tip: During the sessions, tweeting and Facebooking are encouraged (quietly), to report news immediately and to create a buzzzzzz! Use the #USANA14 hash tag.
16. Bring your laptop or iPad. For the third straight year, the Salt Palace will be equipped with free WiFi! Most hotels have free WiFi and any nearby Starbucks has free WiFi as well. Hot Tip: There are a handful of computers in the Tech & Tools area of the USANA Store that are available for you to check your email or update your Facebook. It’s also a great place to give your devices a quick charge before heading over to the ESA for the General Sessions (and, of course, to say hi to the social media team).
17. Go on a tour. Carve out time to tour USANA Corporate Headquarters. There are free home office bus tours all day Wednesday, Friday evening and Saturday evening, leaving from the corner of the Salt Palace that faces the Shilo Inn. My favorite time is Wednesday before the serious networking and meetings begin. Hot Tip: Friday is generally the busiest time for tours, so try to make it to the Home Office on Wednesday or Saturday.
18. Keep your receipts. Remember to keep all your Convention receipts for business expenses: hotel, shuttle, airfare, all meals, and business tool receipts.
19. Carry Kleenex. Keep a little Kleenex handy. Some of the speakers will touch your heart.
20. Think of this as your time, to absorb, to network, to have fun, to grow! Leave your worries behind and give yourself the best Convention experience ever! After all, this is our annual celebration — and it is truly a gift from corporate to us!
How About You?
Other seasoned convention goers, please feel free to add to my list!
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