Well… I did it! I survived!
Actually it was quite easy and a ton of fun. Being that it was my first BlogHer trip I decided to purchase the Expo and Party Pass for $147 and not the Full Conference Pass for double that. Let’s start off with a quick recap of likes and nots:
- Meeting bloggers. This was probably my favorite part of the whole trip.
- Meeting reps. I connected with some great brands.
- The hotel. It was nice and cozy. And 24 hour coffee bar. YES.
- The swag. Kudos to The Big Toy Book and White Cloud for opting to ship swag to our homes. Made my life that much easier!
- Delivery Man screening. That movie was fabulous!
- Chicago. Pretty city.
- The Expo Hall. It was great but just a tad small – I would have loved to see more brands represented.
- Again – the swag. I had to leave a lot behind. It would have been fantastic to have gotten coupons instead for some of the products. I know I am missing out on some great products simply because I couldn’t transport it home.
- CheeseburgHer Party. I know the whole point of it was to have it in a suite because it was going back to its roots, but we got yelled at by other patrons of the hotel because it was so loud. That was uncomfortable.
- The Swag Exchange was across town and closed at noon on Sunday. It would have been great to have it open a little later because I and several others missed it.
- Some of the PR reps weren’t at the Expo Hall on Saturday. So I couldn’t connect with anyone but a pretty young girl who was hired to man the booth at some stations.
- Some reps didn’t really understand why they were there – at least that’s what it seemed. It was like we were there to see what product they had in hopes we would tweet them, but there was no real blogger business plan from some. A lot did have a great program for bloggers, but I think when a brand signs on to be a sponsor they should know why we bloggers are there, that is to work with brands we like, not just buy their product.
- The shenanigans. Yep, there were shenanigans. Like the couple who walked out of the bathroom together ifyouknowwhatImean. I am assuming they were trying to have a baby and she just happened to be ovulating. Yeah, that.
So, let’s get to dishing, shall we?
My direct flight from Portland to Chicago left bright and early at 8:30am, which meant I needed to be up and out the door by 5am. I chose to take Trimet to the MAX train station (our version of a subway) and take that to the airport. This way I wasn’t waking anyone up to take me all the way there and I could slip out quietly. The 4 hour flight was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy and I met a really great pediatrician from Eugene, Oregon. I got to Chicago O’Hare and met with my buddies Di from FSM Blogs and Deb from Frugal Diva Frenzy. I had known Di from our Oz The Great and Powerful trip but had only known Deb online. I was so glad to meet her because she’s an awesome person 😀
From there we headed to our hotel – The Hyatt Regency McCormick. Well, not before Deb’s GPS tried to kill us. It kept telling us to turn left down a one-way, go straight into a building… I swear this thing had it out for us…
The Hyatt was gorgeous. Really beautiful. The staff was fantastic, the rooms were clean, and there was a 24 hour coffee bar. I presumed I would be utilizing this…
I met with my roomies – Sadie at Slap Dash Mom, Stacy at Couponista Queen, and Ashley at Deals in Heels, along with Ashlea and her husband Paul from Deal Detecting Diva. Then it was off to the parties.
First party was Social Luxe presented by Cottonelle. They had a pampering suite set up downstairs where I got my nails done and an amazing massage (needed after a long flight!) We could also play the new Smurfs game – super fun! From there I headed to the Restaurant.com party at Yolk in downtown Chicago. I am pretty impressed with the changes at Restaurant.com – they got rid of all restrictions and lowered the minimum purchases at restaurants. Definitely more user friendly! I also ran into some bloggers I knew online there! Yay!
After that I went to the Sweet Suite, hosted by The Big Toy Book. Oh Em Gee. I felt like a kid in a candy store! It was all toys – in every corner and on every level. TOYS!! I wanted to stay and play… Some standouts for me included:
..there were SO MANY brands represented. This was a fun party because I got to play.
The next morning I had a private meeting with the rep Lindsey from Saban Brands who invited me to be a Brand-Bassador. I am BEYOND excited about this opportunity and can’t WAIT to show my readers the fun goodies Saban represents!
After my meeting with Lindsey I headed over to the MomSelect Swag Suite. I LOVED this party – there were some fabulous brands represented there, one of my favorites being Patch Products. I totally gravitated toward the giant-size Magenta Beetsch Planet Sock Monkey. I mean, why wouldn’t I? I wanted to take her home but I got a consolation prize in a smaller version 🙂
I headed to the Expo Hall at McCormick Place and met with some fantastic brands – CVS, Walgreens, Jamba Juice, Daily’s Cocktails, and more. I met an awesome twin mom at Keurig and a super-fab blogger Liza from the Bloganizer. I also ran into several other online friends – Jana from Merlot Mommy, Kristy at Adventures of a Couponista, Cori from Cori’s Cozy Corner, and Kristin from It’s Free At Last to name a few. All great ladies.
I went to the Hasbro Party and had some fun zombie cocktails, danced with a Play-Doh can, and met a Transformer 🙂 The party was at Hard Rock Cafe and was a crazy blast! Afterward I went to the White Cloud “Cocktails in the Clouds” party and relaxed with some good friends… That was nice – the party was so relaxing and I felt like I was on cloud 9.
Yet another party that night was OneLink Software, hosted by Rachel of The Late Farmer and Lacey of Charm + Sass. Cool software, but even cooler ladies. This party was a hit in my book. Special hi to Ethan, son of Maria from Tough Cookie Mommy 🙂
The next day I headed back to the Expo hall to continue my brand relationships quest. I met some great reps from Fox, Love with Food, and BlendTech as well as countless others. It was a lot of chatting, exchanging cards, and trying to stand out among the crowd, which I think I did
That evening I headed to Lucky Strike to see a special screening of Delivery Man starring Vince Vaughn and Cobie Smulders. It was a great film – funny, touching, and entertaining. I can’t imagine being a parent to 533 kids like Vince Vaughn’s character is! Delivery Man opens November 22 so I highly recommend marking it on your calendars and seeing it.
After the reception I decided to go to BlogHer’s 7th annual CheeseburgHer party. Um WOW. It was like a night club in that suite! I met a fab blogger – Tabatha at So Tabulous. Her style is amazing!! Like seriously. She’s fab. There were a couple of questionable things that happened at the party though – see above.
The next day I walked around Chicago with Ashley and discovered why it was called The Windy City. We also went shopping and had delish Magnolia Cupcakes. Yummers. Then in was time to head home. Being the frugal person I am I decided to forgo the cab to the airport and asked the driver from Uber (thanks for the free certificate) to take me to Union Station to catch the Blue Line to O’Hare. Little did I know the Blue Line didn’t stop at Union Station so I hoofed it to the nearest stop 2 blocks away. Well, more like 6 blocks because I started out going the wrong way. Finally after teetering down several flights of stairs to the tracks I hopped on the train I needed and I was on my way home…
Whew. That was a lot, right? So if you read it all then YAY. You will know I had a great time and fully intend on going again next year. If you didn’t read? That’s ok too. Here are some pictures for you to be jealous over…