Social Guide to the ESRI User Conference

Okay, we’ve seen plenty of offical guides and articles offering advice on what to pack, how to get there, where to stay, how to choose sessions, etc. What none of these articles tell you are the key facts for the social side of the conference. Since networking is everything, it’s just as important to have a plan for the evening as it is for the conference day.

So, let’s start a discussion on all the important social events and customs a new ESRI User Conference attendee should know about. For example, where should I eat for lunch? Dinner? Which bar has the best beer? Where are the best industry parties? etc. I’ll start:

Dick’s Last Resort: Sure it’s a chain, but at some point in the conference, just about everybody eats here for lunch. So if you’re looking for someone to meet up with or spy on, this is the place. Occassionally you’ll also get the bonus of seeing some tourist get furious at the servers becuase they don’t understand that being treated rudely is part of the Dick’s experience.

Industry Parties: Get to know someone in the Electricity and Water/Wastewater User Groups. Tuesday and Wednesday nights are the vendor and industry sponsored parties; and the utilities always throw a good one. Attend the Electricity and Water/Wastewater User Group Socials in the evening and buddy up to a vendor to get a pass for the industry party that will happen afterwards.

Okay, now it’s your turn… add a comment with your advice.
(I received a number of suggestions by email, so I’ve added several in the Comments below)

13 thoughts on “Social Guide to the ESRI User Conference

  1. The conference is so big and busy that sometimes the best way to network is to sit at an outdoor table in the Gas Lamp District (lots of them) and keep your eye out for friends. In addition to catching up with current friends, I have met a lot of new friends and contacts who are walking by with old friends and contacts. One of my favorite spots is Cesar’s at the intersection of 5th and Island. They have a street-side patio, a wine bar a good selection of fine cigars (I enjoy a good cigar)…ahhh, can’t wait for the conference to be here!

  2. Add Oil & Gas to the list of legendary Industry Parties. Buddy up to someone in that SIG so you can gain entrance to the “Party” that happens after the offical social.

  3. Check out the marina around the Marriott hotel and keep an eye on the harbor, as some attendees rent and stay on Boats. Find someone who’s affiliated with a boat and you’re on your way to a free cruise, or at least a deck party.

  4. Rumor has it there is an ESRI after hours party at a new location each nite. The “list” (or the “underground list”) is created by a somewhat close knit clique in ESRI and trickles out to others via notes and word-of-mouth (maybe these days twitter). Make friends with someone on the Development Team and you might be able to tag along.

  5. If you have to check in on Le Tour de France during the conference, Fred’s Mexican Cafe is a good place to have lunch. They’re usually showing a reply of Le Tour on one of their fat screens.

  6. Glen Letham ( will be organizing “… a laid back meet-up prior to the conference where some of us that know each other virtually meet up …”) at Dick’s Last Resort on Sunday night at 8 pm. It will likely be on the patio.

    Feel free to Tweet that you plan on attending by using hashtag #ESRITweetUp

    More Info on Linked In:

  7. For anyone who likes to dance… a word of advice. Chooise a dancing venue with a concrete floor for only ONE evening. More than one day of dancing on concrete in a row is a killer – so pick one of the
    other venues that has a wood floor instead.(hmm wonder if we could geocode the best dancing places… 🙂

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