I recently had the chance to travel to Boston for a Marketing Conference/Expo called InBound. Hosted by Hubspot, InBound is quite massive. The sheer volume of people all mashed together reminded me of Blizzcon. The majority of the attendees make up customers of Hubspot, but there were a lot of other people there too. 10,000 total, or so I was told. Most were marketers to some degree, though there were also sales people. The speakers represented a broad cross-section of professionals including marketers, sales people, web devs, seo experts and more.
At one point, I thought someone – maybe even me – was going to be trampled. The keynotes were held in a gigantic space on the ground floor. There was one way in/out of that space, which led to another gigantic space called ‘Club Inbound’. There were two exits from there – we’ll call them ‘east and west’. On the west side, you had an escalator to the 1st floor. On the east side, you had a door out into the meeting spaces, and then an escalator up to the 1st floor. After the keynotes, people would break and head to their meeting rooms on the ground, 1st and 2nd floors. As everyone crowded out the east side and onto the escalator, the 1st floor landing created a bottle neck as people were trying to make the sharp curve to head up to the 2nd floor. That bottleneck meant that while the escalator was still pushing people up and out, there was nowhere for them to go but to smoosh into the people waiting to make the turn. Instant mosh pit. Luckily, no one was hurt and the women in front of me, who suddenly found themselves being pressed up against me and some other people, were unscathed as well. I put my hands above my head, actually. It was that tight and I didn’t want to accidentally offend anyone in the mad crush with an awkward touch.
I enjoy traveling, except for the inevitable sleepless nights. I brought sleeping pills with me and they did nothing, absolutely nothing, to help me sleep. Two pills and I was still awake most of the night, tossing and turning. Hate that so much. No sleep means cranky atfmb whose immune system is also cranky and not working at 100%, which usually leads to concrud. Bleh. Too early yet to tell if that will be a consequence of this trip.
EDIT: Turns out, I have an ear infection. Not sure whether it was already in play when I went to Boston, or if it started there. One thing I’ve noticed – if I wear ear buds, I tend to get ear infections. And I wore ear buds on the plane to Boston, and back to Denver. Sigh. (I prefer headphones that sit on top of the ear)
Boston itself was pretty cool. I’d even go so far as to say ‘nifty’. Here are some nearly random Boston photos:
Being the headquarters for Hubspot, the conference did some cool things to make sure attendees got a little slice of Bostonian culture. First it was the food trucks. Every day, local food trucks lined the park areas surrounding the convention center. These areas were fenced off and the food trucks accepted the little meal tickets we were issued when we registered, which meant we didn’t have to deal with paying cash or waiting for other people to pay, get change, etc. Second, there was a trolley that would take you into the surrounding neighborhoods where you could, again, sample the local restaurants (they didn’t accept the food tickets, btw). The end of each days sessions including a Happy Hour event where, you guessed it, Sam Adams was readily available. I know you can get Sam Adams elsewhere, but it was still kinda cool.
Those Happy Hours were insane. Similar to the escalator mosh pit, it was all about cramming thousands of people into the exhibit hall – arguably more space versus the 1st floor landing – where dance music loudly thumped from every possible corner and angle, and the roar of the crowd drowned out even the most persistent conversationalist. I believe the open bars set like little kiosks throughout the space might have been the only draw for most people as conversation was impossible.
I went to the North End several times for dinner with my coworker. The first, well, we didn’t quite make it all the way to the North End. We were North End adjacent due to the fact that A) It was the first day, B) we’d been traveling all day, and then C) were walking a lot, and sort of gave up and didn’t feel like walking any more (we were also, mostly, possibly, lost) so we jumped into the first ‘local and historical’ place that served food. Union Oyster House is an interesting place – three stories (at least?) with lots of narrow staircases and sharp turns followed up with cozy booths and tables. The menu? 98% seafood, of which – alas – I am not a fan. There were three items, I believe, which were not seafood – 2 steaks and a piece of chicken. The chicken, at $35, was the least expensive option (O_o?!) and the one I went for. I can honestly say it was the best $35 piece of chicken I’d had that day. Would I go back? Absolutely not.
Our next trip was, again, on the edge of North End – though it still qualified as North End. An American Grille where I got buffalo meatloaf medallions atop red potato mash with bits of bacon and some form of dried and / or rehydrated cranberries. All in all, it was quite tasty and less expensive than the night before. Although, I did get some looks from the staff as we walked in. I was wearing my hoodie, which I think of as a second skin half the time, even though I can’t wear it at work. After, we walked down the pier (wharf?) to look at the water and some of the boats in berth. The calm of the water mixed with the sea air was quite nice. We decided to hoof it back to the hotel rather than pay for a cab, which allowed us to view a little more of the Boston night life as we walked.
As a side note – I had forgotten how big Dunkin’ Donuts is back east. We have only a couple of them in Denver and out where I grew up in California, everything was Winchell’s. But Dunkin’ Donuts is on every corner, if not every other corner, the way Starbucks is in Denver and churches are in Madera (very old, very IN, family joke of mine…). It was a trip. One morning when we were waiting for the shuttle, I asked the shuttle organizer dude – whose name, btw, was also Patrick – about where I could get some coffee and he pointed out that Dunkin’ was up on that corner there or down on that corner over there. Oddly enough, he didn’t point back to the hotel where a coffee bar was setup in the back by the restaurant and the water (the Intercontinental sits on the pier/wharf).
Our third trip was as North End as you could get. Narrow streets clustered dozens of businesses serving every kind of Italian feast you could ever want. Yes, there were other kinds of food, but the Italian food was broadly represented and it was damned good. We hit a pizza and pasta place called Benevento’s. Oh. My. Gawd. So good! All the places are crammed together and narrow, but long – so once you step in, they stretch back, and back, and back. The food was wonderful, and so was the staff. We wanted to hit one of the local bakeries and our waitress told us about one just up the street – her favorite – which is open 24 hours a day. We went there and HOLY FRACKING FRACK was it AWESOME! It’s called Bova’s and if you’re in Boston and have a hankering for a peanut butter canoli at 3 am, this is the place for you!
I want to tell you that I did some sight seeing beyond all of this, that I’d walked the wharf (I kinda did), or toured the fire department museum (I passed it several times), or jumped on one of the boats in the harbor for a whale watching expedition (Wait – that’s a real thing?!) but, alas, I did not. There wasn’t enough time for these things, or, to be honest, energy for that after all the sessions, bold talks and deep dives I attended during the day.
I know not everyone who reads this blog will be particularly interested in the marketing aspect of this trip, but suffice to say – it was incredibly informative for me, a marketing professional. I learned a lot. Not everything was a surprise because I make a point of watching the industry and being on top of this stuff. But it was good to go anyway. A few nuggets here and there made me go, “huh.” And meeting with like-minded individuals is always good.
Which makes me think about the cons I’ve attended – different from professional Conferences, really. Worldcon, MileHiCon (Which is coming up soon). Again, the draw for me there are the people – people like me who enjoy SF&F and want to talk about it and celebrate it. My people.
Wonder if we can get food trucks to show up for MileHiCon…