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August 13, 2012

10 Things About BlogHer '12

As many of you already know, we recently attended the 2012 BlogHer Conference in New York. This is our recap. It's really long, so you might wanna go grab a snack now before you start reading.

This shit's about to get real...

1. The Back Story and a Big Disclaimer


This was our fourth year attending this totally unique, crazy, fun, sparkly, inspiring event for women bloggers. Every year our BlogHer recap gets a little more detailed and we need an even bigger disclaimer. For instance, this is what we wrote last year:
Apparently we think we are cooler than everyone else and hate everything, so read at your own risk. (This is the recap that is going to earn us 15 new fans and at least 75 new enemies. Bring it on.) We honestly did have a great time at BlogHer '11, we just have a lot to say this year about, well, everything. So let's get to it.

This year, we're expecting 15 new fans and 100 new enemies, although every time we expect there to be a big backlash to our posts, there never is, so who knows? Although we do kind of feel like this might be the year. We've sort of gotten the reputation that we're complainers and well, okay, maybe that's true. But it's just that we have high standards and we want the best for conferences like BlogHer. We may be known as complainers, but we also are known for telling it like it is, for being willing to say what others are thinking but are too afraid to admit and that's something of which we're actually very proud.


It took a very long time to write this recap because we have a lot of feelings.

It pains us to say this, but in our opinion this was BlogHer's worst year (out of the four that we've personally experienced). Now hold up, don't get pissed off just yet... we're not saying that it was all bad or that BlogHer sucks or that the organizers and staff didn't bust their asses yet again. They certainly did and BlogHer will always be awesome and there were a lot of things that we truly loved this year. But we just feel that it has been better in the past and we have to admit we were disappointed in a lot of things this year. We promise this recap won't be all criticism and not all of our criticisms are aimed directly at BlogHer. But yes, we do have a lot of criticisms and we feel that they are valid concerns that we know others share.

We've seen a couple of posts already about how people who criticize BlogHer are just whiners or must be newbies with no experience going to big conferences and unrealistic expectations. Obviously we disagree, and we think the opposite is actually true. Many of us who have complaints this year have them because we're conference veterans who know that it can be done better because we've experienced better in the past. When you pay money to attend a large, long-running conference and stay in a hotel with lots of conference experience, you should expect a well-run conference and good customer service. And if you don't get that, you should speak out and offer constructive criticism so that these problems can be fixed in the future.

So we hope you can bear with us this time... and we hope that the powers that be at BlogHer are listening and take some of our ideas into consideration for next year.

2. The Conference


We honestly feel that the conference has gotten too large at this point. This year there were an estimated 5,000 attendees (up at least 1,000+ from last year) which is just too many. It's out of control. We know that the goal of any conference like this is to continue expanding every year and to try to reach as many people as possible. But when that leads to long lines, overcrowded rooms, people being turned away from popular sessions and general chaos... then maybe it's time to slow down and reevaluate. This was the first year that we felt that we weren't valuable and instead were just another deposit in the BlogHer bank account.

In general it just seems like BlogHer is cutting corners a little more each year. Take the food for example. We've gone from full breakfast and lunch with multiple options each day to last year having a sort of half breakfast with oatmeal to this year just having a continental breakfast on Saturday and fewer options overall. Why? The price of the conference isn't going down and the number of attendees keeps going up, so why all the cut-backs?

Tote Bags

For some reason this year we had to pick up our BlogHer tote bags at a separate time and place from the regular registration and badge pickup. We thought this sounded strange when we first heard about it, and it turned out to be a bad idea with worse execution. Not only was it inconvenient to have to come back four hours after we registered to get the tote bag (which we imagine was even more of an inconvenience for those who didn't stay at the Hilton), but it was extra weird because the tote bags were not in the main expo hall or at the registration desk but in the back corner of the Mercury Ballroom all the way across the floor and down the hall. There were also some sponsor booths in this room, so we're assuming that putting the tote bag pickup table in there was a way of making sure that we all visited those sponsors, but it really just ended up confusing people. When we were walking around with our BlogHer bags we were stopped at least a dozen times by women who couldn't figure out where they were supposed to go to get them. Even on Saturday afternoon there were still people who had gone all weekend without being able to find them. It made no sense and was a waste of everyone's time.

Lunch Keynotes

On Friday there was a lunchtime keynote with Martha Stewart. We just have to ask - who the hell thought that combining lunch and a "celebrity" keynote was a good idea? Lunch runs from 11:45 to 1:30, and usually what happens is that people go earlier or later depending on their schedule. But since everyone wanted to see Martha, everyone went to lunch at the same time, and chaos ensued. By the time we got into the ballroom with our food, we couldn't find anywhere to sit (until the lovely FC Mom rescued us because she had an extra seat behind her stroller). The room was so packed that people were sitting all over the floor in the back of the room and there was even spillover outside the doors. It was hard to actually hear Martha over the sounds of everyone eating and talking and other people shushing the people who were talking, so we finally just gave up and left when we were done eating.

In fact, we were so stressed after dealing with that overcrowded claustrophobic loud crazy mess that we went back up to our room for awhile just to get some alone time and ended up skipping the first afternoon session, which we hadn't originally planned to do. And on Saturday when we walked by and saw a super long line forming 20 minutes before the Katie Couric Lunch/Keynote was even scheduled to start, we just said fuck it and went somewhere else for lunch. We would have liked to have attended that keynote, but it just wasn't worth dealing with that chaos again.

Next time we think that lunch and keynotes should be kept separate. Even if this keynote had been held in a room that was actually big enough to hold everyone, there's still the noise factor of everyone eating and the people who didn't care about Martha and just wanted to have lunch talking through the entire thing. Not only is it inconvenient for those of us in the audience, but we feel like it's disrespectful to the person doing the keynote to put them in a position where they have to try to talk over such a noisy room just to be heard.

While we're talking keynotes, we have to shout out the fact that President Obama appeared live (via video) at BlogHer this year. We have nothing negative to say about this at all (I know, try to contain your shock) and we think it's awesome that BlogHer was able to pull that off and that President Obama recognized the value of speaking to the BlogHer community. If you weren't at BlogHer or you missed his remarks, you can watch them on the BlogHer site now. And we will say something negative about the small minority of people who reacted to the announcement that the president would be appearing at BlogHer by immediately asking if Mitt Romney was invited too or complaining that he wasn't also appearing. If those people had bothered to actually read the press release that accompanied the announcement, they would have known that Romney was invited and declined the invitation, and that representatives from both campaigns were participating in BlogHer sessions. It's not BlogHer's fault that Mittens doesn't have his priorities straight.

Swag Recycling Room

Were we the only people who were shocked to see how... empty... the swag recycling room was? We went to drop off a few things and possibly pick up a few things and the place was dead. We're not sure if this was because the sponsor giveaways this year were so minimal or because no one could find the room. We did see some tweets asking where it was and when it was open. We didn't see it mentioned in the handout we got at registration so it was unclear what dates/times it was open and it was listed as "Recycling and Shipping" not "Swag Recycling" or "Swag Exchange" so we're thinking maybe people just didn't even know it was there?

And speaking of "recycling" - what happened to the BlogHer green team that used to make suggestions and help the conference stay as environmentally friendly as possible? If they were around this year, it was hard to tell. In past years we always got a water bottle in the BlogHer tote bag and there were usually water stations all around this conference. This year there were some water coolers around, but without any reusable water bottles easily accessible the result was a huge mountain of little plastic cups in the garbage next to every single one. We also heard that there were some issues with water not being available at the BlogHer 5K, but we can't confirm that since we're lucky if we can get our hungover asses out of bed to make it to breakfast on time, let alone get up at the crack of dawn to run a 5K before the conference starts.

Badge Scanning and Privacy Concerns

It didn't come as a shock to us that BlogHer, yet again, chose not to respect the privacy of its attendees, especially those anonymous or semi-private bloggers. Every year we make this criticism and this year it seems to have gotten even worse. Everywhere we went there were cameras in our faces and there are absolutely no privacy considerations. Basically, if you're at this conference, you can expect your face to be plastered all the fuck over every website for the rest of time. (This goes for the parties too - we don't remember anyone at the parties making an announcement that photos and videos are going to be broadcast everywhere but yet go on Twitter and there are a gazillion slideshows up.) Luckily, our photo-dodging reflexes have gotten really good over time, so we were able to avoid most of the roving cameras... but we have to say it was pretty damn annoying.

We realize that we go to BlogHer at our own risk, but it'd be really awesome if BlogHer could follow the example that the Momentum and Catalyst conferences have set when it comes to privacy and consent. Based on all the pseudonyms that we saw on various badges, we know we're not the only ones who don't blog under our own names and faces. I know this is a strange concept to a lot of the BlogHer community - where many women blog openly and publicly about their personal lives, spouses and children - but we all know that this is the Internet we're talking about, and some of us have our reasons for wanting a little more privacy and safety for ourselves and our families.

This year, BlogHer announced at the last minute that they would be implementing a new badge scanning system. This year sponsors could scan our badges in order to retrieve our contact information (instead of having to sign up on mailing lists or exchange business cards). This sounds like a great idea in theory, but the execution was a different story. There was no mention of this new system when we registered and no way of letting us choose what information we shared. The only notice of it came on August 1st (one day before the conference began) in a "Must Read" blog that many people probably missed because they were busy traveling or prepping for the conference:
Speaking of privacy…
For the first time since we started our conferences, our sponsors will have the option to order lead retrieval scanners and some, if not all, have done so. What this means for you is that if you allow the sponsor to scan your badge you are authorizing them to have access to your registration data. If you do not wish to have all of the information you provided during registration be shared, you may opt out of having your badge scanned and simply hand the sponsor/exhibitor a business card…the choice is yours!
The choice is ours? Well, maybe technically it was, but every single sponsor we encountered asked to scan our badges and very few of them were understanding when we declined. Many of them were completely unprepared for those of us who made the "choice" not to be scanned and didn't have a system set up for collecting our information in another way and we feel that in some cases we "missed out" on opportunities because of our reluctance to be scanned. Did BlogHer neglect to inform the sponsors that the choice was ours? Their reactions ranged from puzzled to annoyed and we were frustrated by having to explain a zillion times that we blog anonymously (and then having to justify why we blog anonymously to some of them, as if that's their fucking business either). Half the time the sponsor representatives just lost interest in our explanation and walked away before we were even done.

The badges should never have been linked to our registration information, especially not without advanced notice and consent. We should have been able to choose which information we wanted to share. It just shows a total lack of respect for anonymous bloggers or anyone else with privacy concerns. Even those who aren't anonymous, might not necessarily want the name and address that they used at registration (or any address for that matter) to be given out to sponsors. If the choice is really ours - give us the choice! Let us choose what information and how much we decide to give to sponsors. Don't choose for us and then give us the choice to "opt out" with added inconvenience.

3. Expo Hall and Sponsors


This year we felt that there were too many companies offering totally irrelevant "experiences" like a massage or manicure instead of actual information/coupons/samples related to their products, or making people jump through hoops like going on a scavenger hunt around Manhattan just to "win" a contest entry, or hiding their coupons as if we had to prove we 'deserved' one. If you want to provide something fun that's fine (and we realize that some people do enjoy that kind of thing), but value our time and intelligence enough to actually engage with us about your brand and products instead of thinking that we'll all fall in love with you as a company because you gave us a free manicure or had a hot guy in a goofy outfit at your booth.

Some of the new sponsors seemed totally unprepared for what to expect, how many samples to bring, etc., like one company who told us that they didn't bring nearly enough samples because they thought the expo hall would be empty while the sessions were going on. We had assumed that BlogHer would prep new sponsors on that sort of thing, but apparently not. And did anyone else find it interesting that Jamba Juice showed up as a first time sponsor and chose to hand out samples of smoothies with weight loss powder in them? As if that's all we care about as women bloggers.

Of course, there were some brands who still managed to do a great job this year. Zicam is one example of a company that kept it simple but still got it right. The brand reps in the booth were friendly and well-informed, we were given samples of the product to try without having to jump through a million hoops to prove ourselves worthy, and they did a fun activity where they let us choose four charms that related to us as bloggers and gave us a little charm bracelet to take home.

Jimmy Dean officially won us over last year as our favorite sponsor of the conference and this year they did not disappoint. Not only was everything they gave us absolutely delicious, but we would've starved on Saturday had it not been for them, because we were unhappy with the official breakfast and couldn't bear the chaotic lunch/keynote situation again. Everyone who was working there to represent the brand was so great and friendly and helpful. They didn't hold back the samples just because we'd already had one the previous day. And yes, they did remember us from last year.

We also really enjoyed visiting the Brawny booth. They set up a "wall of thanks" that everyone could sign, and for each signature they donated $1 to the Wounded Warrior Project. They also gave us a bunch of coupons without us having to ask or use some kind of secret password, which wasn't even needed considering how awesome the donation idea was, but was way more than some other booths did.

On Saturday we discovered Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods, which is a line of frozen Italian meals made with real natural ingredients (and way less sodium and artificial crap than Stouffer's or other processed meals). The guys working in the booth were super nice - including the actual Michael Angelo himself! - and gave us a sampler plate to try, which honestly was better than any of the "official" BlogHer food that we ate all weekend.

Here's our contribution to the American Cancer Society's More Birthdays project:




Once again the Hershey's S'mores "Camp Bondfire" suite was great - everyone was very friendly and helpful and they really know how to create a relaxed environment and give us an "experience" that is actually related to the product. It was fun, delicious, and not overly time consuming. Yet again, a win! This year we had an extra fun time because we went "camping" by the fake fire with the hilarious Jessica Bern

Unfortunately we can't say the same for the Starbucks suite. We were really excited to see Starbucks as an official sponsor this year, but we feel that they really missed the mark with the way they chose to run their suite. We went up around 11am on Saturday to find a sign saying that they were on a "coffee break" and wouldn't be back until 1pm. Okay, no big deal. We went back around 2pm and found that we weren't able to actually enter the suite. There was a woman from the PR company standing in the doorway literally holding it closed so that those of us waiting outside couldn't see in. She told all of us that we couldn't come in and had to make an appointment to come back later for a 20 minute demo of their new product. The only appointments she had available were over an hour later. We didn't have time to wait and come back yet again, so we declined. In fact, only one person in the group were were standing with actually made an appointment; the rest of us just walked away. We understand wanting to make sure the suite doesn't get too crowded, and that if you're doing a demo you want people to arrive at set times, but we feel like they should have had another option available for people who just wanted to stop in and get some basic info about the product. Once again we were left wondering if BlogHer and/or the PR company that they worked with really prepped them on how the suites usually work and the type of experience that they usually provide. I'm sure the people who actually got into the suite had a great experience, but we feel that they could have reached a lot more people if they had done things differently.

This year we stopped by the Hot Wheels suite again and mentioned to one of their reps again how we felt about the "for boys" slogan on their Twitter account. She actually remembered us from last year and swore that Hot Wheels is "working on it" but we find that hard to understand. How hard is it to change one word in a Twitter bio in order to stop being sexist?

We were happy to see Trojan Vibrations as a new sponsor this year. Some people have the mistaken impression that BlogHer is only for mommy bloggers and that the only brands attendees like are toys, food, household items, and things like that. So we're always glad when BlogHer throws some more "adult" or "outside the box" sponsors into the mix. (And although they weren't official sponsors, we were glad to meet representatives from Wet/Trigg Laboratories as well!)

We had to laugh before BlogHer started when we saw a blogger on twitter saying that she didn't understand why Trojan was coming because BlogHer is a "conservative" conference and Trojan isn't as "discreet" as past sponsor Eden Fantasys. We disagreed with her at the time, and needless to say she was proven completely wrong when the Trojan booth proved to be one of the most popular in the entire expo hall. In fact, they handed out about 4,000 vibrators over the weekend. And if you picked up one of those vibrators yourself, you might be interested in our friend Epiphora's excellent review of Trojan (and other drugstore brand) vibrators.

Overall, we were disappointed in many of the brands and the way that their representatives interacted and engaged with us. In addition to the issues that we already mentioned, there were some brands that just showed no interest in having any real discussions with bloggers. There's nothing more frustrating that being completely ignored when you really are interested in a product or company. We won't name names, but there are some companies that we will not be supporting after this conference based solely on the shitty way that they handled their "blogger outreach". It's one thing if a booth is very crowded, but there were a few times when we were literally the only people standing there and the brand reps in the booth would just stand there talking to each other or on their phones and pretend we weren't there. It didn't seem like there were many companies this year that came to BlogHer with a genuine interest in connecting and finding new bloggers to work with. As Robyn put it in her great recap, "It is so frustrating to ask 'how are you working with bloggers' and get a blank stare or 'we aren’t' in return."

4. The Sessions


Honestly, we didn't attend as many sessions as we wanted to this year. This was partly by choice, because the conference in general was so overcrowded and overwhelming that we ended up taking more downtime than usual, and partly because that overcrowding meant that we were closed out of several sessions that we wanted to attend because the rooms were too full. We heard a lot of complaints about that this year, and even some people claiming that they weren't able to attend any of the sessions that they planned on going to because all of the rooms were filled. This is obviously a huge problem and one that we hope BlogHer will correct next year. (It's actually an issue that has come up before, although never to the extent that it did this year.) If they're going to allow more and more and more attendees each year, they need to make sure that every single session is in a big enough room, and if necessary start offering more sessions and tracks in each time slot so that everyone who wants to attend a session at any given time can do so.

Even setting the overcrowding issue aside, we feel that more tracks and sessions might be a good idea anyway. We like the way the Professional track offered beginner and advanced sessions in each time slot, and we'd love to see the same thing done in some of the other tracks. For example, we're always happy to see BlogHer offering a political track, but not always thrilled when the actual session descriptions come out. It seems like a lot of the same topics (with many of the same speakers) being covered year after year. We would love to see what could be done if this track was split into beginner and advanced sessions. Like the How Washington Works session from this year (we weren't able to attend this session so we're not criticizing it, just using the topic as an example) - what if we already know how Washington works and want to have a more advanced discussion about lobbying and activism?

And maybe it's just us, but we feel like every year the Political/Change Agent sessions go over the same ground of talking about how women have so much power and we don't always use it, and every year we feel like BlogHer has so much power and potential for activism and doesn't always use it fully. (Although obviously as we mentioned getting President Obama to speak was awesome and we're not discounting that at all.) How about some voter registration tables or petitions or fundraising drives or something?

We have similar feelings about all the focus that BlogHer seems to give to helping women value themselves and give themselves permission to charge for their services or promote themselves, etc. It's not that we don't see the value in these discussions, we love the idea of empowering women who still need that push. However, we just hear about this discussion coming up every year and we have to wonder if we're ever going to move beyond it and give more hands-on information and tools to the women who already see the value in what they do and would like help putting a monetary number on that value. We still remember the first session we went to at our first BlogHer - we thought we were going to get lots of great tips about charging for services and advertising and things like that, and instead almost the whole session became all about helping some of the women in the audience get over their fear of even getting started - and we heard some comments from people who had similar experiences this year. (Maybe this was partly because the session on How to Price and Value Your Services was a combined Beginner/Advanced session for some reason - next year we think this definitely needs to be two separate conversations.) Obviously there was a lot of concrete info like that given out this year, so we think it really just goes back to the point about having more divisions between beginner and advanced and session descriptions that are as clear as possible so people really know what to expect from each session.

Now that's not to say that we didn't like any of the sessions this year, in the Political track or elsewhere. There were some great ones. We were thrilled to see the session about Latinas in Elected Office (featuring the awesome Veronica Arreola and several Latina politicians), and our friend Jennifer Pozner did a great session on DIY book promotion. We're biased where Jenn is concerned, but we're always happy to see her at BlogHer because no matter what topic she's speaking on, she brings her strong feminist voice and advocacy for media literacy, which is so important. It's also so badly needed at a conference like BlogHer where women are bombarded with marketing and advertising messages from sponsors, and we see far to many of them falling for corporate bullshit and doublespeak rather than approaching it with a critical eye.

One of our favorite sessions this year was the sex blogging session (duh) "Erotica Out in the Open" with Twanna Hines, Arielle Loren, Lauren Fleming (aka Queerie Bradshaw), and Sienna Jae Fein. Of course this was our favorite session because that was where we found our people. It was great listening to these four awesome women talk about how they each write about sex in their own ways. Our favorite quote? Maybe this one: "If you're willing to talk openly about sex some people will assume you must be a slut." We'd love to see more panels like that at BlogHer in the future.

5. The Hotel


Okay, wow, where do we start on this one? We were so happy with our stay at the Hilton New York during the 2010 BlogHer Conference that we actually raved about the hotel to this year's attendees... of course, that was before we got there. This year unfortunately we were so disappointed in our stay at the Hilton that we actually feel embarrassed that we said anything nice about the hotel in the first place.


We're not exactly sure who is to blame for all of the issues we had with the Hilton - the hotel itself or BlogHer for not effectively communicating with the hotel management on what to expect from the conference this year. Our guess would be that it was combination of the two, however there were some issues that were straight up Hilton failures. It may seem like we're nitpicking a bit (and well, we are) but that's because so so so so much was unsatisfactory that we just feel the need to include everything here.

Check-In

Things started off on a less than stellar note from the very beginning... we arrived at the hotel at 2:15pm but had to wait an hour for our room to be ready to check in. We understand this (as official hotel check in was 3:00pm), however we were confused when we were told to come back "in an hour or later." We confirmed to the woman at the desk, "okay, we'll be back in an hour" and she said "...or later." Check in time for the hotel is 3:00pm. We understand if they can't accommodate us with an early check in, but it's not acceptable for our room not to be ready on time and we were annoyed that we had to get back on the long line a second time in order to get our rooms. The woman at the front desk said she would do a "pre-check in" for us, but we still had to come back and wait on line again and start the process of checking in over again and there was no system to give priority to people who had arrived earlier, so pre-check in seemed pretty pointless.

The Condition of Our Room

When we got up to our room we were very disappointed. Our room was on the Hilton Honors floor, but we can't imagine what the regular floors looked like if that was an "Honors" room. (More like Hilton Horrors.) Things seemed to have started falling apart since the last time we were there two years ago. Some of the numbers on the room next to ours were missing and had been re-written in black magic marker and our room had no number whatsoever. Our room did not seem to be very clean. The sheets did not seem clean and the floor was dirty. Not just dirty but sticky. It made walking barefoot completely impossible and gross. It was especially bad under the desk, where there was actually a reddish-pinkish circle (possibly left from a cup or bottle of something?).

The room was extremely dark, even with all the lights on. There were virtually no working outlets in the room anywhere but by the desk. There was one on a lamp on the desk and one set of outlets under the desk. Of course, crawling under the desk to use that one was totally inconvenient because we had to crawl through the sticky red mess we mentioned above. We also bumped our heads a few times under the desk.

There should really be an outlet by the bed. In this day and age virtually everyone uses smartphones and mp3 players. It would've been nice to be able to plug something in next to the bed so we wouldn't have to get up to use it. Considering that this was a conference for bloggers, we were totally inconvenienced by not being able to use our laptops on the bed (since there was only room for one person at the desk and only one chair). There's no reason there couldn't have been a lamp with an outlet in it - like the one on the desk - by the beds as well.

The outlet in the bathroom didn't work at all, so we had to blow dry our hair hovering over the desk. There was also no fan in the bathroom, which would've been nice after a hot shower (and probably would have prevented the cracked and peeling ceiling that we had to stare at all weekend). The thermostat in the bedroom also didn't work seem to work well, if at all. The temperature of the room never seemed to match what the thermostat said. We would turn it up and down and it made no difference.

We were also disappointed in the amount of counter space in the bathroom. There was barely enough room for a small toiletry bag and definitely nowhere to put our extra towels without them getting soaked from the shower or sink. We ended up putting them on the "mini bar", which brings us to another confusing part of the room. Why was there a locked mini bar? We were disappointed that we didn't have the option to have a mini fridge in our room but there was a big mini bar that was screwed closed. Why was it still in the room if it was useless? It just took up space. Couldn't they have replaced it with an extra dresser or something else useful? As it was it basically just stood there as a giant reminder of an amenity that we weren't getting.

Food and Coffee Service

We were also really disappointed to learn that the Hilton had removed all the complimentary in-room coffee makers. We couldn't believe that in 2012 there could possible be a hotel without in-room coffee makers, even if we had to pay for it. They did have "coffee service" downstairs in the mornings, but that ended at 8:00am. Sorry, but I'm not going down to the lobby at 6:30am to wait on line for a cup of coffee. The point of coffee in the morning is that I need it before I have to interact with other people. And the coffee that the hotel did provide, as part of the conference meals, was terrible, so it hardly seemed worth making a special trip down to the lobby at the crack of dawn to get it.

We're not sure if the hotel provided the food for the BlogHer lunches and parties, but it wasn't great and some things were barely edible, like burgers that were raw in the middle and seafood items that smelled funny. At the lunches, they had sandwiches that were pre-dressed so if you didn't happen to like, say, mayonnaise, you were out of luck. And after sitting there for a few minutes, the bread was soggy and gross. (Next time: Tiny packets of mayo and mustan. We also noticed that there were limited options for vegan and/or gluten-free attendees. And at breakfast, although they had coffee and tea set-up, they didn't have anything else. There were a few coolers of orange juice (which was pulpy, something not everyone likes) and that's it. No other juices or choices. We're obviously not asking for 37 different beverage options, but two would've been nice. There also should have been another protein alternative at breakfast (we love our bacon, but we know that a lot of people cannot eat pork, either for health or religious reasons).

Also, for some reason there were a whole bunch of tables marked "reserved" at the back of the ballroom where everyone ate breakfast and lunch. We never saw anyone sitting at any of these reserved tables or heard any explanation for why they were reserved. It just forced everyone to be even more squished together in an already crowded room.

Room Drops and Housekeeping

Many of you are familiar with the fact that the BlogHer Conference has a "room drop" program where hotel staff may enter the guest rooms at least once a day to "drop" promotional items. Although we were in a double room that clearly had two people staying in it (two beds, two suitcases, two names on the reservation) only one single item was left instead of two.

Also, the conference organizers had informed the attendees that if we wanted "room drops" we could not use the "Do Not Disturb" sign on our doors or the hotel staff would not be able to enter. We did not want to miss out on the room drops, but we did not wish to have housekeeping services that day, so we left a note on the door that said:
"Dear Hotel Staff,
It's okay to enter for BlogHer "room drops", but housekeeping is not needed.
Thank you!"

When we returned from lunch one day we were surprised to find a "Do Not Disturb" sign on our door. We're not sure if we missed out on a room drop during that time because of that, but we were still annoyed to see it there since our note had clearly specified that we did not mind being "disturbed". When we noticed it we said aloud "huh? Who put a Do Not Disturb on our door?" One of the cleaning staff was nearby and overheard us and she said "Oh, I put it there because I saw your note." We know that she probably meant well and was trying to help, but yet again it's just another example of how the hotel staff was not prepared for this conference. Why didn't anyone inform the housekeeping staff about the "room drop" policy? And why would reading a note that says it is "okay to enter" make her think we wanted not to be disturbed?

Elevators and Wifi

It doesn't seem that any of the hotel staff were prepared about exactly what to expect from the conference being there, which might have been forgiveable had this been their first year hosting BlogHer. But it wasn't. The Hilton should have been ready to rectify any mistakes and issues from 2010, but instead they just came up with several more ways to screw it up.

We understand that the BlogHer conference brings a lot of people (at least 1,000 more attendees this year than the last time it was in New York) and it can be overwhelming for any hotel to handle, but we felt that the Hilton was grossly unprepared and understaffed. Weeks before the conference the Hilton's Twitter account shared message after message filled with promises of how smoothly things were going to run compared to the last time BlogHer was at the Hilton in 2010. Two specific issues that were brought up included the elevators and the wifi. However neither problem was resolved this time. In fact, the wifi might have been even slower than last time and at times.

This stay at the Hilton New York was such a disappointment. If the Hilton New York were to host BlogHer again in the future, we think we would have to stay at another hotel because this kind of service and conditions are unacceptable to us.

Our Lost Package

We were also really upset that the hotel lost the package that we were expecting. We had ordered some promotional items specifically for the conference, but the company informed us that they might not arrive in time. (The shipping estimate was given as "Wednesday or Thursday" and we were scheduled to arrive at the hotel on Thursday.) So we switched the shipping address to the hotel instead. We called the hotel to confirm that this was okay and verify if we needed to do anything or put anything specific on the shipping label. We told them that the name on the package was not on the hotel reservation, and asked if that was going to be a problem. They told us "not a problem, just come to the package room when you get in." The package room was our first stop when we got in on Thursday afternoon but they claimed the package had not arrived. We again, told them that the name on the package did not match the name on the reservation and again, they told us that this wasn't a problem. (We ended up adding the second name to the reservation upon check in anyway.)

We came back again on Friday and still no package. We called the company and they said that it had definitely shipped and arrived. Finally on Saturday (the last day of the conference) we went to the package room one more time and the man working there was kind of rude to us. He seemed annoyed that we were looking for a package that wasn't there (as if it was our fault) and said that if the name on the package doesn't match the name on the room, there's nothing he can do. He told us to "check with the concierge". Why didn't anyone suggest this on Thursday when we needed the package instead of on the last day when it was already too late?

The concierge immediately told us "oh no, a package like that wouldn't be here", leaving us with the impression that the guy in the package room lied to us just to get us to leave. She checked on it for us anyway and they couldn't find it anywhere. We went home without our package and even upon calling the hotel after we got home, they still never recovered it. We wasted our money and our time and never had the items for the conference.When we called to speak to a manager about it, she said she'd "look for it" bt didn't take my address to send it to me if found. (Guess, she wasn't expecting to find it.) The next day she actually left a voice mail suggesting that we might have used the incorrect address of the hotel on it or had possibly confused it with another Hilton in Manhattan. Look, we're not stupid, we're familiar with New York City and we've stayed at this hotel before. We managed to make it all the way to the conference without accidentally showing up at the wrong Hilton, so obviously we know the correct address. It's condescending to try to imply that the loss of the package was our fault, when it definitely wasn't.

Rude and Unhelpful Staff

In addition to all these problems, much of the hotel staff was rude and unhelpful. We did have a good experience with a few employees of the hotel, even though they couldn't resolve our issues. (The concierge for example was very nice.) Some of the women who were working outside the conference session rooms were very nice and apologetic when they had to turn us away from overcrowded rooms, even as some of the other attendees were yelling at them. We did not do this of course, we know it wasn't their fault - but rather just more poor planning on the part of the hotel and conference organizers. (Here's an interesting blog we found on that issue: We are all special snowflakes.) Not every employee was rude, but the rude ones certainly outnumbered the ones that were nice.


Miscellaneous Complaints From Others

It wasn't just us who were unhappy with the Hilton. We noticed quite a few complaints from others on Twitter and in blogs as well. In no particular order, here are some of our "favorites":




























Pretty fucked up, right? (For more info on Laura's experience at the Hilton, check out her recap here.)


Final Customer Service Failure

We had hoped to speak to a manager before we checked out (if anything just to get to the bottom of the lost package issue) but the line at the front desk was so long that we didn't bother and decided to deal with it when we got home instead. First we called about the lost package and got the run around. When the manager we spoke to left that voice message suggesting that we had confused Hilton New York with another NYC Hilton, we were pissed. So pissed, that we didn't even want to respond to her message right away because we needed to calm down. The first thing we did when the package went missing was contact the sender and make sure they had the correct address (they did).

We contacted the Resident Manager with our long detailed list of complaints. (We also emailed the general help email that Hilton Help gave us, but received no answer at all.) We received a one-line response asking for a telephone number "so we can discuss your recent visit" but with no apology. We responded that we'd prefer to keep the conversation in writing and "on the record" and mentioned that we didn't really understand what could be better solved by explaining it again all over the phone.

He replied again, finally apologizing, and saying that he felt our email "warrants a personal phone call so that we can discuss all of your concerns that you had mentioned". He wrote that he wanted to "offer a level of service" that we "should have received" during our stay. If he wants to provide us with a better level of customer service than we experienced during our stay, a good start would be respecting our wishes that the conversation be conducted via email. And what exactly does he want to discuss? We laid out our concerns clearly and don't want to waste time rehashing them over the phone.

Days went by and he didn't reply after that, so we tried calling again and asked for the original woman we had spoken to about the package. When I asked for her, the woman who answered the phone said "okay, I'll transfer you to the front desk". It rang for two minutes with no answer (not even a voicemail system). You might think we're exaggerating, but we sat there and watched the clock. It rang for two full minutes until we finally gave up and hung up. We called back again and complained about what had happened and asked for the manager again. This time it rang about five times and then the same woman who had just transferred us answered. When we explained that it was still us, she said "oh, it didn't transfer you?" No. Then we listened to on-hold music for about one minute until she picked up again "may I have your name please?" and then said she would transfer us.

When we finally spoke to the manager and she said she hadn't found the package, we were so frustrated from the incompetence we'd just dealt with that we snapped at her that it was very condescending and rude to imply that we had given the wrong hotel because we've stayed at the Hilton New York before and we know where it is. She interrupted and claimed that that was not was she meant to imply and gave some bullshit story about how sometimes packages will get delivered to the restaurant next door, so she wanted to confirm that we had the exact address.

We had the voicemail saved, so we can tell you exactly what she said:
"...often times a sender will send it to a Hilton in New York, but not necessarily our Hilton, so I just wanted to confirm the address that it was shipped to."
Really? She's going to pretend that she wasn't implying that we sent it to the wrong Hilton? Really? Also, her "restaurant next door" excuse doesn't hold water either, because we had the package sent to *Name* c/o Hilton New York and then the exact address. There was no way for them to not know it was the Hilton, even if we were off by one number, which we weren't.

We told her that this was one of the worst hotel experiences that we've had and we couldn't believe the incompetence we've experienced. She interrupted again and said "I understand that you're upset at the situation"... yeah, we're upset about a lot of things... We're upset that no one there seems to know how to use their phone system... We're upset that our room wasn't clean... We're upset about our entire experience with Hilton New York! Not only was our stay at the hotel lousy, but we've never encountered customer service this bad. Then she hung up on us;.

In case you're keeping track at home, that's two managers who totally and utterly failed to resolve our issues, or even just pretend to care that we had an issue.

We were so unhappy with our stay at the Hilton that we tweeted about it and were contacted by @HiltonNewYork and @HiltonHelp - although we're not sure what the purpose of these twitter accounts really are. They tweet and DM asking "Let us know what we can do to assist you" but don't actually assist. Each time we ask for a contact person they have to "reach out" to get a contact for us to email. Really? They're handling social media for the Hilton and offering to help people but they have to reach out to find someone? You'd think they would have a list of hotel contacts including managers.

Okay, we realize we're just rambling at this point and giving way more details than any of you care about, so we'll stop now. It's just frustrating to waste so much of our time trying to deal with anyone at this hotel, and we know that we weren't the only ones who had these kinds of issues with their stay. In fact, we know that some people had to deal with major billing errors and other worse and more annoying problems, so we're trying to keep our stuff in perspective. We just don't feel that we or any other BlogHer attendees should have to jump through all of these hoops just to get an adequate apology, let alone any other "resolution". We hope that if BlogHer comes back to New York in the future, they choose a different hotel.

[Update: We finally found a manager who was actually willing to listen to and address our concerns, and who provided a resolution that we were happy with. It shouldn't have taken as long as it did, but we're glad it finally happened.]

6. The Parties


Before the conference even began there was a ton of discussion over the ethics of private, off-site "outboarding" parties. While we think that some of the arguments were a tad exaggerated, we do tend to agree that the unofficial parties are trying to exploit the BlogHer frenzy for their own purposes. However, we do attend at least a few off-site parties every year and we don't feel guilty about that.

We absolutely understand the appeal of these unofficial parties and we think that some of the official BlogHer parties have gone way downhill over the years so it's no surprise that attendees still go crazy for the off-site events.

SocialLuxe Lounge

We always enjoy attending this party, and we have to say that the SocialLuxe ladies definitely figured out how to rectify some of the issues from the last time they hosted their party at Arena in NYC. The bracelet system for swag bags made a lot more sense than having guests lug them around the crowded venue, and we really have to commend them for listening to and acting on feedback from attendees to make those changes. (The only complaint we have is that this year there seemed to be almost as many photographers as attendees at the party. We understand parties like this wanting to take photos, but as anonymous bloggers we try to avoid them if we can and for some reason at this event this year we felt like every single time we turned around someone was taking a photo or filming us. Not a big deal but a little annoying, especially when the photographers seemed to have an attitude with us if we tried to decline the photos. We know you're just doing your jobs, but take a hint.)

Photo courtesy of SocialLuxe Lounge's Facebook page

As always, this was a lovely party where we met some really cool people, and a great "official" start to our BlogHer weekend. And of course we were psyched to try a sample of Edy's Slow Churned ice cream, yum! We took ours to go and it was was the perfect treat for the hot and humid walk back to the hotel.


California Dreams

We didn't stay at this party for too long - there wasn't any food and it was just too hot and humid for a rooftop terrace, so we hung out for awhile and then moved on. (Maybe the "California bloggers" didn't know what to expect from August in NYC.) It was great to see Melysa of Sex, Lies and Bacon (and co-host of last year's awesome Kiss Our Sass party) and talk about blowjobs with her. You know, like you do. We had heard a lot about the swag bags for this party on Twitter, but ours seemed to be missing... well... everything. (Lilith's literally only had a Sierra magazine, a mini bottle of fig vodka, and a lot of tissue paper.) Guess there must have been an error in the "stuffing" process, oh well. But the party was nice and had an open bar and we met some cool people. We really appreciate that Single Edition sponsored a party and acknowledged the single bloggers in the BlogHer crowd.

People's Party

There's not a whole lot to say about the People's Party only because it doesn't really have a "gimmick" (other than the Bloggess, who wasn't there this year). We went, we ate, we had a drink, we met some cool people (yes, we met cool people everywhere - that's BlogHer for you), and we waited for Queerosphere to start. One thing we will say is that the "venue" where they held the People's Party, Sparklecorn, and Cheeseburgher was really oddly shaped and awkward and not quite big enough.

Queerosphere

Always our favorite official party at BlogHer, the Queerosphere (the party for LGBT bloggers and allies, but open to the entire conference) is hosted by the one-and-only Deb Rox. BlogHer doesn't truly begin for us until we get our group hug with Deb. This party was great. The ballroom they had it in was big enough for everyone, there was good food and drinks, they had a lounge singer entertaining so it was a really nice low key vibe (Sarah King and the Smoke Rings if anyone was wondering), and there were even more cool people there than at any other party. Always the best way to end Thursday night and kick off the conference on a good note.

Meet & Greet Happy Hour with Disqus

We stopped in at this happy hour event for literally 2 minutes. That was long enough. We walked through a long bar to find a crowded mass of people crammed into one room. No one greeted us or checked our Eventbrite tickets. The whole set up was just nuts. Although the invitation promised "food, drinks and general merriment" and that "folks from the Disqus team will be on-hand to answer questions if you have them" we didn't see or receive any of that. No one noticed us come in and no one noticed us leave. It was basically a waste of time just to walk over there.

Harley-Davidson Party

This was one of the best parties we attended this year. It was cool to be able to check out the motorcycles and hear from Karen Davidson (great-granddaughter of Harley-Davidson founder William Davidson). Whiskey Park kept us happy with lots of drinks and waitresses kept coming around with trays of delicious bite-size foods. Then we were surprised with Margaret Cho! Margaret Cho! We're huge fans of hers so when we noticed that she was just hanging around and no one was swarming around her, we had to go talk to her. We gave her our card because we thought she would get a kick out of the name of our blog (she did). She flipped it over and noticed the Masque info on the back and asked what it was. We explained and gave her samples and she loved it. She even mentioned us and Masque in her speech to the whole party. That made our night!

Photo: Keith Bedford/Reuters for Harley-Davidson


We're pretty sure that photo was taken right after she mentioned talking to "evil sluts" about "blow job strips"!

Sparklecorn


We criticized the Sparklecorn party last year and we felt bad about it afterwards. However, after this year's party we no longer feel bad because it seems that they haven't learned at all from last year's mistakes. We were psyched that DJ Skribble seemed to understand what we (and many others) were so upset about last year and he came back full force this year determined to please us. It paid off, because he really understood his audience this time and catered to them 100% and took requests. Last year we suggested that DJ Skribble might have been the worst part of the party, but this year he was hands down the best part. Now how much of that has to do with his own personal redemption and how much has to do with our feelings about the rest of the party is up for debate. But he won us over and that says a lot.



However, the Sparklecorn crew did not win us over. Yet again they wasted an exorbitant amount of money on a sculpture cake that almost no one could eat and then seemed to cheap out on everything else. The food was minimal and gross and although they had actual liquor this time around, the beer selections were still weak. And it wasn't even cold! Cheap room-temperature beer does not make me happy.

We also have to wonder whose bright idea was it to put a sofa right in the middle of the long crazy bar line? The room was tight and crowded enough without that added inconvenience. (CheeseburgHer did a much better job incorporating their traditional beds into the same space the following night.)


Last year we felt that the cake was overkill. This year was no different, although there were apparently consequences this time - we weren't there for this but we heard from several people that the party started late because the cake allegedly collapsed and had to be fixed. (Keep in mind that this is one of those giant cake sculptures from Charm City Cakes that's like one part cake and three parts Rice Krispies treats, styrofoam, and broken promises.)






We're told it was only 25% cake and the rest was primarily "structure". At this point we just have to ask why? We somewhat understood it in the last few years we attended when we could see that the organizers were trying to top themselves with a bigger and "better" cake each year. But we feel like it's reached the point where it's not bigger or better or exciting or impressive, it just is what it is. We heard quite a few newbies asking why there was a giant unicorn roped off in the middle of the room as well as people saying stuff like "oh yeah, that's the unicorn cake, they always have one". And we realize that we're probably in the minority on this, but the whole giant sculpture cake thing is played out in our opinion. (Ace of Cakes was canceled for a reason.) There's just no wow factor anymore, which means the cake is just a waste of money instead of an impressive and cool looking waste of money.

And at the end of the party, some guy (who we're told is one of the organizer's boyfriends) punched the cake and then others proceeded to join in and destroy it and make a mess. Apparently this is some kind of "tradition" to destroy the uneaten portion of the cake. We're a little unclear on the details of this, probably because it makes no sense. If it's true that a big cake mess was left behind for the Hilton staff to clean up at one in the morning on purpose, we'd have to classify that as "fucking uncool", not "fun tradition". But we hope that whoever participated had more fun destroying the cake than the rest of us had standing around behind a rope staring at it.


Photos via @CouponDivaDes


Apparently there's been some discussion post-BlogHer from other attendees about whether the cake is a waste of food. And while some of the Sparklecorn defenders have claimed that almost all of the cake was eaten, we call bullshit on that. We saw tweet after tweet like "did anyone ever get to taste the Sparklecorn cake? I didn't", and we were at that party until at least 12:30am and we never saw any cake being served or eaten. (If we're mistaken about this please let us know.) In the photos there seems to have been a lot of "uneaten" cake on the floor...


Photo by Jen Piwtpitt from PeopleIWantToPunchInTheThroat.com


We've already seen defensive responses coming from the party's organizers and their friends to any criticisms of the event. Yes, we know it sucks when you try to do something nice for everyone and it gets shit on. So we don't blame them for being annoyed that every single person at the conference didn't totally fall in unicorn love with everything about the party. Obviously we know that their intentions were to show everyone a great time (and we know that many did have a great time) but good intentions alone don't make a great event. We feel like the fact that Sparklecorn now has a reputation for being the "best" BlogHer party isn't actually doing the party itself any favors. It seems to be coasting along on rep alone at this point - here's your glow sticks and your candy necklaces and your $10,000 unicorn cake, The End.

We know that the Sparklecorn organizers have a right to spend their party budget on whatever they want, but maybe it's time to step back and ask why? Why not use all that money to put together the best possible party? Is it really still worth it to blow the budget on a cake that people aren't even all that impressed with anymore (and practically no one gets to eat)? How about a unicorn sculpture that can be reused every year and a big thing of unicorn cupcakes or cake pops or macarons or something else that people can actually eat?

We came straight from the Harley-Davidson party to Sparklecorn and we couldn't help but compare the two, at least when it comes to the way they handled "dessert". At Whiskey Park there were servers circling the room with trays of little mini cupcakes and cheesecake bites and everyone was happy. Way happier than they would have been if there had been a giant fucking motorcycle cake roped off in the center of the room.

Essentially what it boils down to is that as with so many things life, Sparklecorn was better before it started to believe its own hype. If this is the group that BlogHer is going to give thousands of dollars to year after year to throw a party for the entire BlogHer community, we think that they should at least be open to constructive criticism and suggestions. Either that or maybe BlogHer should spread some of that money around and let someone else throw a kick ass party while Sparklecorn takes a year off to get their priorities straight.


BlogHer Fashion Show

How gorgeous did Erin Kotecki Vest (Queen of Spain) look?

Photo by Kelly Cheatle, borrowed from QueenofSpainBlog.com

This is why we go to BlogHer - to hang out with awesome, strong, and brave women like Erin. That's really all that needs to be said.


BanShe

Speaking of awesome women... This is MaryMac:



You can tell that she's awesome because she's wearing a tiara and a party dress and has a cell phone, glows stick and Masque sample in her bra. She also was one of the hosts/organizers of the BanShe party that we attended on Saturday night.

We had a great time hanging with Mary and lots of other great women at this party. It was a lot of fun and we really appreciate how hard the organizers worked to include everyone off the waitlist (including moving the venue) so we could all party together!

CheeseburgHer

CheeseburgHer was the perfect way to finish off our BlogHer weekend. We had a great time even though we were already completely exhausted before we even got there. Much like BlogHer doesn't start until we get our hug from Deb Rox, it doesn't end until we take McDonald's cheeseburgers "to go" from this party, eat them in our hotel room while staying up way too late trying and failing to pack up all of our swag for the trip home, and then regret the entire thing in the morning. Considering how bad most of the food was all weekend at BlogHer, we really needed a few cheeseburgers late on Saturday night.



7. The People


Of course, the best part of BlogHer every year is getting to connect with other awesome bloggers. Here's a list of some really cool people we met this year, as well as a shout-out to some of our favorite friends from years past. If we hung out but then left you off that list, that means that we secretly hated you. No... just kidding... it means we either spaced (it was a very long weekend and there was a lot of alcohol involved) or we lost track of your business card... we're still organizing. So if you're not on the list, but you know that we connected and fell in bloggy love with each other, definitely get in touch!

In no particular order...

New Friends

Guerrilla Mom
Kim of Live from the 205
Queerie Bradshaw
KazSugarpants
Sandi and Lola
Kristi Trimmer
Blaugra
FC Mom
GayNYCDad
Tabulous
Erin of My Very Educated Mother
Chris Lam
Jess Downey
Arielle Loren
Stephanie Quilao
Katey, The Corporate Peon


Old Friends

Deb Rox
Queen of Spain
MaryMac
Jessica Bern
PhD in Parenting
Jennifer Pozner
Krista Arendsen
Lindsay LaVine
Unwellness
The Feminist Breeder
Twanna Hines

Celebrities

The only celebrity that ever really matters to us at BlogHer is the Jimmy Dean sun. (Margaret Cho was an obvious exception this year, but that's our general rule.) The sun is just a nice in real life as he is in his awesome commercials, and this year we even got to ride in an elevator with him, which means we're basically like BFFs now. Any other parties or expo hall booths that attempted to provide their own "celebrities", like a former Real Housewives cast member or Kate Gosselin, just paled in comparison to the sun.

8. The Random Moments


Of course, anytime you put Lilith and Jezebel in a room together we have some of those "Only the ESC" moments!



Like when we ran into Aaron Vest for the third time in one day...
Aaron Vest: Do you two ever.... separate?
Jezebel: No, we tried it once and we didn't care for it.
Or when we were walking on our way to the Harley-Davidson party and someone (Katey from The Corporate Peon) stopped us on the street and asked "are you the evil sluts?" We're totally famous! And for the record, that's actually not the first time something like that has happened to us out on the street. It's always a unique experience to be standing on a street corner and hear someone yell out "hey, don't you girls have some kind of website?"

Every year BlogHer isn't complete until we hug Deb Rox at the Queerosphere party. But this year we made it giant group hug with Sandi and Lola (another fabulous blogging partnership), and Kate from Masque. Nothing like spreading the love. (For even more funny stories about our adventures bringing Masque to BlogHer, check out our Masque recap post.)

We met Nick from Time Dog at Queerosphere, and while the Time Dog service does sound awesome, we were way more excited to find out that he plays in an 80s cover band that sometimes plays in a bar in a local town where we like to do most of our drinking. This is the kind of networking that we find really valuable.

We had an awesome time hanging out with Maria Guido (aka Guerrilla Mom) at the Harley party and Sparklecorn. She even came up to our room with us and witnessed the pure chaos that takes over a hotel room whenever we travel together. We did offer her the opportunity to roll around in the big pile of swag that we had spread out over one of the beds, because we're polite and ladylike hostesses.

We had an absolutely hilarious indirect encounter with one of our "haters" on Saturday. We heard from a friend that our name had come up in a conversation among a group of women sitting together at a party. One of the women decided to offer up that she doesn't like us, and when she was asked why she replied "because I don't like their tweets". Needless to say we've been dying of curiosity ever since. Which tweets doesn't she like? The ones about politics? Sports? 50 Shades of Grey? Cosmo? BlogHer? Blowjobs? Be more specific! And it only became funnier when we checked twitter after we got home and discovered that she actually follows us. Pro tip: If you don't like our tweets, the solution to that problem is only one click away.


9. What We Expect From BlogHer '13


BlogHer '13 has been announced and it will take place in Chicago at the end of July at McCormick Place and the Sheraton. We have to admit we are already apprehensive about this. One of us has a lot of experience working trade shows at McCormick while staying at an offsite hotel, and while we're glad that BlogHer has switched to a venue that will presumably have enough space for everyone this time, we feel like it's going to be a very different experience than it's been in the past when everything was at one location. And we have to offer one piece of advice right now - BlogHer says that they're going to provide shuttles to take everyone from McCormick to the hotel and back. Do not rely on this. Have a Plan B in place for when you walk out of the hotel and find a super long line of cranky bloggers waiting for shuttles to arrive. We predict that next year's conference is going to be very different, so we encourage everyone to really think about what hotel and transportation options will work best for them rather than just going with whatever BlogHer recommends.

10. The Post-BlogHer Recaps


At the end of every BlogHer recap, we like to link to some other recaps... because we know that our perspective isn't the only one. (There were 5,000 bloggers at the conference this year!) If we didn't include yours, it's only because there are just so many and we missed it or you were still working on it when we posted this. (Of course, ours is probably so much later than everyone else's - because we had so much to fit in - that we can't see how that's even possible!) So please leave links in the comments if you have a post to share.

10 comments:

Liz said...

That was a LONG write-up ... but enjoyable to read :).

My posts (there are 5 of them! Yikes) can be found at www.yesnofilms.com.

TheNextMartha said...

When doing research on how many a lunch table would seat, I found that the whole area that held lunch/keynotes had the capacity of 1,800. I'm pretty sure that if you added that AND the meeting areas you would still be short the whole attendance of the conference. Basically, they shouldn't complain about off site events because they didn't plan to host everyone at the same time in the first place. I too found the customer service at the hotel horrendous. I also attended in '10 and found the service to be way worse this time around. The wifi and the elevators were at least as bad as in '10. The conference expo areas spread out did not work for me. I have issues with gluten. Not even a fruit or vegetable to chose from was just disheartening. StarveHer was in full effect and lost 4lbs over the weekend due to the lack of food choices. At one point I asked if the food was invisible or if I just needed a microscope to see it. I Agree that the Blogher parties are a little stagnant. After going 3 years is that all they've got? Where's the creativity and excitement of something new? I thought your post was fair and made a lot of valid points. ::slow clap::

Kelly said...

I've never been to blogher so maybe I'm missing something, but $10k for a cake that's only 1/4 cake? In this economy?

corporatepeon said...

I completely agree with you on so many things:
- The tote bag pickup was ridiculous.
- The expo-hall brands whose reps chose to ignore us and talk to each other, or on their phones? Huge waste of money on their part, and hugely blacklisted on mine.
- This was my 3rd BlogHer and I never buy the full pass, just the expo/party pass. I've never heard rave reviews about the sessions to make me regret my choice, and this year was no different.
- The room drop scared me out of a nap, only left one item for the 2 of us, and I agree with every single point you made about the quality of the hotel room. This is a Hilton, for cry-eye; I expected so much better.

However. The fashion show? ROCKED. And the women, the cool chics that are the reason I return year after year? Rocked even harder.

See you in Chicago, ESC. :)

Robin said...

Best review of BlogHer since the conference ever. If I go to BlogHer in Chicago I am renting my ass a car.

Jessica said...

There have been plenty of whiny BlogHer recaps. Criticism isn't bad as long as it's constructive and honest. Thanks, ladies, for doing it right. It was my first BlogHer but I definitely agree with virtually everything you said. (I did actually get help from the Hilton Twitter account when I complained that one of the conference rooms was too hot. So there's that.)

Sorry I didn't get to meet the Evil Sluts!

Guerrilla Mom said...

This post rocked, and I'm guessing the most thorough post written about Blogher, ever. You ladies were one of the highlights of the whole, damn thing!

Anonymous said...

This was the best recap I've read yet. Most honest. I keep seeing the organizers defend the conference (which was still really great) without addressing any of these concerns that we all had. :( I HOPE YOU'RE LISTENING BLOGHER!!!!!!!!

Momo Fali said...

I like to think that listening to feedback is one of our strengths. I read the whole post, start to finish. I read EVERY conference post and I report on the positives and negatives. Of course, my report does NOT take the place of post-con surveys. So, please still send that back! :)

Laurita said...

¡Hola!

Here's my recap link of the fashion show. I will be working on another recap soon about other aspects of BlogHer '12. Ironically, the fashion show was probably the most drama-free part of BlogHer '12 for me.

Can I KISS you for including my Tweets on the lack of accessibility at the Hilton? It means so much to me that people CARE. I will still be addressing this via my own platforms...don't worry. ;)

http://www.holdinoutforahero.org/2012/08/the-woman-in-the-mirror-blogher-12/