Complete Guide to AWS re:Invent 2019

Posted on September 5, 2019 by Christophe LimpalairChristophe Limpalair

With over 55,000 attendees at AWS re:Invent last year, showing up without a plan will leave you lost in the massive shuffle. To maximize your time there, we created this ultimate guide to help you expertly navigate the AWS re:Invent conference. At the end of our guide, there’s a handy packing checklist to help you remember important items for your trip!
Each year, AWS looks for ways to encourage its tradition of “learn and play” for the conference by expanding activities, sessions, and attendees. And when AWS says play, they are not joking around. Last year, they hired Skrillex to perform at the re:Play party, with numerous pulsing lights and high-paced adult games.

But if live music isn’t your thing, don’t worry, there’s plenty of other things going on.
What you’ll be interested in doing depends on what brings you to re:Invent. Is it to learn more about AWS or get certified? Is it to meet vendors to help you solve challenges? Or are you trying to network? Regardless of your answer (which might include one or more of the above), this guide will help maximize your time for your goals.

Table of Contents

  1. Dress Comfortably
  2. Prep for allergies and dry air
  3. Sessions and keynotes 
  4. Transportation tips
  5. Get certified & join the certification lounge
  6. Hands-On Labs
  7. Networking & Events 
  8. Get SWAG and meet awesome vendors
  9. re:Play party
  10. Packing Checklist
  11. Restaurant Recommendations
  12. More tips from AWS

Dress Comfortably

This is probably not the first tip you’d expect from a conference guide, but whether working a vendor booth or attending the conference, you can expect a lot of walking and standing. Combine that with the fact that you will be among thousands of other people, you’re going to want to dress comfortably.
A big part of dressing comfortably is wearing comfortable shoes. Sure, it’s important to look great, but this is probably an event where you’d want to choose comfort overlooks if you have to make a choice. Worse case, you can always head to your hotel room and swap out shoes for client meetings or networking events.
Brings jackets, because it will be cold. Vegas is in the middle of a desert, and it will be December. There will be no humidity and you can expect a glacial breeze, especially in the evening.
Don’t wear wool socks (or wool clothing). Dry air and wool socks mean lots of static electricity. When you’re walking down a hall should-to-shoulder with thousands of others, you’re going to regret putting on wool socks. Everything you touch will shock you.

Prep for allergies and dry air

Since the air is so dry and cold, your throat and nose may end up getting scratchy so if you have one, consider bringing a portable humidifier.
Speaking of dry air, don’t forget chapstick. Luckily, vendors bring branded chapstick pretty much every year we’ve been, and in fact, Linux Academy will have chapstick, so if you forget your own, swing by our booth.
Not only will you be traveling in December, where airports and planes are consistently spreading germs, but you’ll be surrounded by a lot of people. Before heading to re:Invent, make sure you stock up on vitamin C and boost your immune system. This is a helpful life hack too as AWS re:Invent is right around the holidays when you can’t afford to be sick.
If you are a vendor, we highly recommend cough drops, tea, or anything else that can soothe your throat. You will be talking to a lot of people, in a very noisy environment, which means raising your voice for people to hear you. And this noise level also means moving closely to the person you are talking to. That’s a recipe for a sore throat and shared germs. Cough drops and hot tea will help this. 
After a day or two at the conference, you will need extra energy. If coffee is your thing, there will be coffee shops around, but if you’re picky about your energy source, don’t forget to bring it with you.
Remember that hotels are also casinos, and most casinos allow smoking. Smoking combined with a whole host of other allergens can trigger allergies. A few members of the Linux Academy team almost immediately get allergies upon entering these hotels. This can put a huge damper on the AWS re:Invent experience, so be sure to bring your allergy meds if you are susceptible.

Sessions & Keynotes 

When you think of conferences, you typically think of sessions and keynotes. What might surprise you is that going to sessions is not the only thing we’d recommend you spend the majority of your time at re:Invent doing. 
Wait, what?
Yep — turns out the sessions are recorded and available online after the event, so even if you miss them you can always watch them later. So don’t worry so much about trying to attend a bunch of sessions that are far apart or overbooked. They even have specific areas within the conference that replay popular sessions.
Now, of course, if your company is paying for you to go and attend sessions, we’re not saying to not attend sessions, but keep in mind that this is just one piece of AWS re:Invent.
When scheduling your sessions, make sure you take into account the distance you have to travel to get to the session. Check the “Transportation Tips” section for advice here.
The same is true for keynotes, but those are different because keynotes are where the biggest announcements happen. Not only is this exciting, but you get to be one of the first to find out about these announcements, which means you can tweet about it…post about it…or login to the platform and play around with the new technology!
Keep in mind that these keynotes fill up very quickly. They do have overflow rooms, but even those can get crammed full. There is a live stream available for keynotes, so you could always pull it up on your laptop or phone and watch it that way.
To find a list of all sessions, go here.

Transportation Tips

There are two major “groups” of locations for events and sessions at re:invent:
Group #1
  • Venetian
  • Mirage
  • Encore
Group #2
  • Aria
  • MGM
  • Bellagio
While you can usually walk between the different AWS re:Invent venues within each respective group, you’ll likely want to take transportation to get to either group. For this, you have multiple options:
  • AWS provides shuttle access. There are many shuttles, so usually, the wait isn’t too long.
  • You can always hop in an Uber/Lyft, but of course, you’ll have to pay for that.
  • AWS’s competitors typically give free rides in Teslas to specific locations (clever advertising!)
  • There’s a monorail that goes between the MGM and LINQ. The LINQ is right next to the Venetian, so you won’t have much of a walk. This was underutilized last year, so it might be a good option this year too!

Get certified & join the certification lounge

If you are already AWS certified, you will be eligible to visit the AWS Certification Lounge. There, you will find custom swag, free food and drinks, and other certified professionals for the opportunity to network. They even have video games.
Additionally, this is a quiet place to hang out, catch up on emails/work/studying or anything else you’d like.
If you’re not AWS certified yet, re:Invent offers you the opportunity to take certification exams on-site. 

Hands-On Labs

If you can’t get enough of  Hands-On Labs, AWS will be hosting their Hands-On Labs on-site with limited seating. While the selection of labs available on-site will be quite limited (~100) compared to our size of offering (900+), it’s still a good way of continuing to train and trying out new services you haven’t used before.
Because seating is limited, you will want to register ahead of time. 

AWS re:Invent Networking & Events 

Conferences are a great way to network and meet people you may not otherwise get a chance to meet. Take advantage of that!
Here is the best way to find AWS re:Invent events: http://conferenceparties.com/reinvent2019/
Some events to look out for:
  • AWS Certifications Appreciation
  • Pub crawls
  • Boardgame nights
  • Sponsor parties
  • Linux Academy event (TBD)
  • Deep Racer Finale (not familiar with DeepRacer? Take a look)
There will be networking lounges at all of the venues where content happens. Some of these will be industry-based lounges like AI, Databases, Financial Services, and more. These are set up to provide networking activities to make it even easier to meet others in similar industries. If you’d like to find these, you can find them in the sessions catalog
AWS also mentioned setting up more activities for introverts based on customer feedback. Think arts & crafts, movie nights, board games, and more.
Keep in mind, though, that if you’re looking to meet anyone specific, you could always reach out to them on LinkedIn or Twitter. Worse case, they’ll be busy and won’t be able to meet, but you’d be surprised who will say yes to grabbing a cup of coffee. It never hurts to try.
If you’d like to meet up with the author of this post, reach out!

Get AWS re:Invent SWAG and meet vendors!

Make sure you leave some room in your suitcase for swag you will be bringing back because you’re going to want every item at the conference.
Come visit our booth for the best swag! Our booth location is to be determined. We’ll update here once we have it. But you can expect our friendly faces, plushy penguins, stickers, and more!
Linux Academy at AWS re:Invent
Learn more about expo hours here: https://reinvent.awsevents.com/learn/expo/

re:Play party

Last year, AWS had to host the re:Play party away from the venues, and they will likely have to do this again in 2019. Don’t worry, though, they’ll have shuttles available and you can always grab a Lyft/Uber to get there and leave.
While they haven’t announced who will be performing at re:Play this year, last year they had Skrillex on the big stage, so you can rest assured that they don’t spare expense for the party on Thursday.
They also have an adult playground with different games and competitions.
This is something to experience at least once, so add it to your calendar now!

Packing Checklist for AWS re:Invent

 Jacket(s)

 Toothbrush + toothpaste

 Socks

 Underwear

 Headphones or headset

 Comfortable shoes

 Evening shoes

 Business cards

 Glasses / contacts

 Phone charger / tablet charger / laptop charger

 Medicine bag (cough drops, allergy meds, Tums)

 Chapstick (don’t have any? Swing by Linux Academy’s booth)

 Lotion

 A valid government ID that matches your registration information

 Toiletry (deodorant, soap, shampoo, hair products)

 Let your credit card provider know you will be there so they don’t block transactions

 Vitamins

 Portable battery charger

 Neck pillow for the plane

 Things to keep you entertained on the plane

 Portable humidifier, if you have one

 Power converter if you are traveling from outside the U.S.

Restaurant Recommendations

This list is based on reviews and location to the Venetian
  • Yardbird Southern Table & Bar – Southern, American
  • Hash House A Go Go – American, Breakfast & Brunch
  • Momofuku – American, Asian Fusion
  • Mon Ami Gabi – French, Steakhouse, Breakfast & Brunch
  • Jaburritos – Japanese, Sushi Bars, Seafood
  • Chica – Latin American, Wine Bars
  • Joes Seafood Prime Steak & Stone Crab – Seafood, Steakhouses, Wine Bars

Want more re:Invent tips directly from AWS? Subscribe to their playlist:

 We hope to see you at the conference! If you can’t wait to get your hands on AWS content, get your start HERE. You still have time to take Linux Academy courses to prepare you for AWS certification, so don’t wait!

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