Last weekend, I attended the mother of all blogging conferences: BlogHer 2017. Lucky for me, it was being held in Orlando, just a little over an hour away from me. I have always wanted to attend this conference, but plane tickets plus conference pass plus hotel was just not in the cards, so I was pumped when some of those things ended up being taken care of!
I arrived on Thursday to the beautiful Hilton Bonnet Creek. I LOVE this hotel yall. It was my 3rd time staying here, and it was just as beautiful as ever.
I had the opportunity to have snacks and drinks with some blogger friends and some of the marketing team at Bonnet Creek, and it was a great way to kick off the weekend!
Thursday afternoon was registration, and my roommates arrived just in time. We heard Chelsea Clinton speak, then got checked in.
With 2500+ bloggers trying to check in, the line was super long so we waited awhile before doing so. I went to the expo by myself after this, and compare it to the first day of a runDisney expo–a little crazy!
Then it was time for the Princess Cruise event. They are rolling out new technology similar to a Disney Magic Band but way prettier and more advanced. You can tap a screen and it will tell you how to get to the pool with the fastest route considering traffic flow on the ship.
I was pretty wiped out after that since I still had my cold, so I went to bed. The next morning we were up bright and early for the 7:30 newbie breakfast we had registered for. Imagine our surprise when we got downstairs and the line was well over 100 people long. We waited a few minutes then were told the breakfast was full to capacity and we would have to go to regular breakfast. Huh? We REGISTERED for this…why were they not checking names?! I was really irritated by this and it sadly wouldn’t be the last time this happened to people over the weekend. We got breakfast and headed in to the breakfast keynote, which was WAY more political than I was anticipating at a blog conference.
We then had our first breakout session, then lunch, then another breakout session. But let me backup. I was eating lunch with a Disney friend of mine, and he asked me if I wanted to meet Serena…Well, duh! So I ran off after him to the backstage area where we hung out for a few minutes before she took the stage. It was amazing! I was slightly starstruck and on a high the rest of the afternoon.
I ran over to another special event with HP, and then back for the afternoon session. The session rooms were super crowded as they did not have enough chairs so I had to sit on the floor. Not a huge deal, but just thought planning would have been better for the amount of people there.
After this, we were on our own for dinner. There was an event that night my roommates and I decided to skip, and instead we ubered to Disney Springs for dinner and drinks and had a blast.
My food was very good and I will definitely be back again.
We had a happy hour I was invited to that we attended next, so we ubered to a different hotel for it and met some more great people, and had yummy drinks and snacks.
We were all tired after that so we got in our PJ’s, made some drinks and watched TV in bed. Adulting is hard.
The next morning we had to pack up all of our stuff since we were checking out of the hotel, so we brought it all to our cars before breakfast. We ate, had another keynote (Gabby Reece and Laurie Hernandez!) and then I had another special event called “speed dating”. I had 90 seconds to talk with 6 brands and see if they wanted to work with me. It was super nerve wracking but also fun.
I went back into the expo after that was over because I had some time before lunch. I grabbed a mashtini from Bob Evans (yum!) and met with a couple more brands.
After lunch I had a meeting with another brand, so I missed part of the keynote but came back to see Carla Hall and Cat Cora speak.
Then we went to our last session which was by far my favorite. I am implementing things I learned as we speak, and can’t wait to do more! I decided to not stay for the closing party so I could get back to Tampa and help my husband with Emma Kate, but I was also too worn out to stay up late then drive home.
I had a blast getting to know my roommates more and also meeting other bloggers and brands. That in itself was worth it to me.
So to recap BlogHer:
Things I loved: Meeting new bloggers, hanging out with my roommates, meeting with brands, a couple of the sessions and special events. The host hotel was amazing.
Things that were just OK: variety of food. At breakfast there was no protein which made me sad. Some of the sessions didn’t have space/seating and were more surface level teaching than I would have liked.
Things I didn’t like: Being turned away for an event I registered for. This happened again later in the weekend for a special movie screening some people attended as well. Way way way too much political talk. And it was very obviously one sided. Was not a fan. Teach me about blogging! teach me about networking!
Would I attend again. It depends. If it was in an easy to get to location and my friends were going as well as great brands/sponsors, I would go again. I would just skip some of the keynotes and things I know that I’m not going to be a fan of hearing.
If you have any questions let me know, I would be happy to try and answer.
GiGi Eats says
I was invited to go to BlogHer but it was way too far away from me, so I couldn’t! But I would have loved to! I went a few years ago in San Jose and honestly, I wasn’t that impressed but I heard this year they put BlogHer + BlogHer Food together, so that is what attracted me a little more!
Jenn Thai says
You look like you had a great time, although I’m sorry to hear of your negative experience with one of the workshops – I hope to attend a BlogHer event in the future, and hopefully they’ll have implemented some learnings from this conference by then!
Jenn | http://www.thisjenngirl.com
Boo to the political stuff! I wouldn’t want to hear that at a blogging conference either! Glad you had fun!! 🙂
I’ve read two recaps so far that mentioned the politics. I had a ticket, which I sold, because I didn’t want to hear the negativity. I’m glad I skipped Blogher this year.
I loved meeting people and making brand connections but I definitely felt like there was a lot of agenda pushing. I walked out of a couple of the keynotes. If I want to hear politics I will turn on the news. I went to learn about blogging and networking! Hopefully it’s not as political next time.
I had an amazing time. As a newbie, I didn’t know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. I was turned away from an event that I pre-registered for as well which was disappointing. All in all, I was happy to connect with new bloggers and learn from the sessions and keynotes.
Heather, thanks for your honesty with this review! I felt the same way. Some of the events were a little too exclusive, people sat on the floor (which I thought was inexcusable), and there was way too much political talk. It was a good conference in that it allowed us to meet tons of other bloggers and speak with brands, but it could have done without all the distractions!
Agree! Distractions is a good word.