This one may seem like a no-brainer, but traveling to NYC can get expensive fast! I could give you a list of great hotels, or link up to Travel + Leisure but instead I’m going to discuss weather, comfort and planning ahead.
A few things to know before you attend.
As soon as that deposit is paid to GLM for your NSS booth you can head on over and hit up TPHousing which is the travel planners for most, if not all, GLM sponsored trade shows. After really searching on my own I came to the conclusion that if you are going to hotel – book through TPHousing. You get discounts much more affordable than booking on a discount travel site like expedia, hot-wire or kayak. First and foremost, if you have card-member rewards, bonus! Use those for your travel. If you don’t (like me) then starting the search early is key. A great thing about booking this way is that no money is due for the reservation, just a credit card number. So there is really no harm in booking a year in advance and getting a killer rate (try $165/night for a 3-star hotel). That same hotel in April will either be booked for exhibitor reserved rooms, or 2-3 times as expensive.
Both last year and this year I booked in July for hotel for the longest amount of stay I anticipated. You can change with most locations represented up to 2 weeks before the show. I booked at the New Yorker Hotel which only requires 72 hours notice for reservation changes or cancellation.
By booking early, you also have peace of mind of having one thing that you don’t have to worry about (unless you want to). This year, I’m exploring the option of renting an apartment short term. By booking hotel early, I can still continue to search but without the stress of a deadline in case I don’t find anything that is a right fit.
If you decide to go the apartment route, you’ll want to make sure you search for short-term vacation rentals, or short-term apartment rentals. When I first started exploring this avenue, I kept ending up with long-term rentals and monthly rent costs which I didn’t want. The advantage to doing an apartment is the option of having a kitchen and a little more space than a hotel room provides. You can usually get good apartments that are larger than a standard hotel room at close to the same price as hotel. Also with the benefit of a kitchen, you can do a little grocery shopping and not be forced to eat out for every meal (unless you want to live off snack food which is another viable option). The disadvantage to doing an apartment is the lack of hotel-service. You don’t come home to a made bed and fresh sheets/towels – that is something you have to do yourself. There also isn’t wake-up calls or concierge. Pick your preferences and weigh them in.
When exhibiting for a first time, you’ll want to factor in not only your travel expenses but any travel for people you are bringing along. I would NOT have survived without sibling help from Matt last year. There are so many variables that I was unsure of when attending for the first time that it was great to have a stress cushion there to help me not lose my mind. When deciding to bring the help, ask yourself the following questions: Will you pay for their full trip? Will you pay them for their time on the show floor and have them split cost of flight/hotel? Do they love you enough to foot their own flights? Are you going to cover their meals? Transportation? Is this an all expenses paid trip for them because they are your other half? If yes to any of these, put that in the budget and plan for it.
Location, location, location
Another first-year tip that I’m glad I focused hard on was location. I wanted to be as close to Javits as possible and MAN am I glad I was. I could walk in the mornings if I wanted to, and cabs were cheap to Javits if I decided to go that route. This year I’m more willing to venture further out into Manhattan but still don’t want to feel like I’m commuting to Javits. I shipped a few boxes of important booth stuff to the hotel that I had to drag to Javits. It was nice being close when hauling that stuff down. As you get more familiar with the city and metro, I think your options open up substantially with travel and you can spread your wings a little when figuring in location.
This one was something I didn’t think about at all! I was so excited to get out of our 5′ of snow that I didn’t really think about anything else last year. It RAINED the whole time we were there. Plan for cabs (and the lack thereof when it rains) and budget it in. Then if the weather is beautiful, you have saved yourself a few bucks, or you can go spend it on yourself. Pack clothing that can be layered and comfy shoes as well as wet weather shoes. And DON’T forget an umbrella. With inclement weather, consider location (hotel) in addition to transportation. It will be a long walk in the rain or muggy subways if you can’t catch a cab and your hotel is up by Columbus Circle. With that said, with a little planning you’ll survive (I did which is a miracle in and of itself)!
Buy a metro card and get a map. If you are as unfamiliar with NYC as I am, you’ll want to give yourself ample time to get to your destination. A metro card for a week will give you unlimited rides so if you mess up (and take that express train instead of the local) you won’t be kicking yourself when you have to shell out another couple of dollars (and are late for a very important date).
Since I’m a west coaster, there is absolutely no option for me to drive. I think that would be the death of me. Depending on the airline you are flying, you can book pretty early and get a great rate. Remember that sometimes if you call and book instead of booking online, you can book farther in advance too securing the lower rate. I always book with my AmEx miles on JetBlue. I use the card enough for the business that it gets enough points to buy a couple of round-trip tickets per year. Use those cards if you’ve got them for big ticket purchases for your business and those miles will stack up fast.
If you plan well, you can hit up the holidays too for great travel deals. Black Friday is my favorite time to book for spring travel as the airlines usually are reserving online through June at that point and you can get a stellar discount if you plan enough ahead.
As indicated above with reserving the longest amount of time you anticipate being at the show, when you book your flight, be sure to update your hotel reservation as well if necessary. Also plan to give yourself enough time for set-up, take-down and any sort of tourist activities you plan on doing so you don’t get stuck last minute with expensive flights home on peak travel days.