Countdown to Ignite Ep. 11: The one about what’s new, including shuttles, networking, meals, and more

Ignite Countdown Show Episode 11We’re only 20 days away from Ignite, and Episode 11 of the Countdown to Ignite Show is ready for viewing. Rick is back, and he and Joey cover what’s new and different about Ignite. Much of the event will look familiar if you’ve been to the previous events such as TechEd or MEC, but there will be a lot that is new and different.

Keep reading for my summary, but make sure you click over to the Ignite blog for the video and full blog post.

This is probably the most info-packed episode of them all. I’m not going to repeat everything from the blog post and video because there are simply too many specific to share here, but I’ll touch on them.

Remote Badge Pickup

Episode 8 of the Countdown show already talked about the availability of remote badge pickup. If you’re flying into O’Hare, you’ll be able to get your badge there. Otherwise there will be locations at a few hotels as well. Check out my blog post for specific locations. Note that these locations are for badges only. You’ll still need to go to the convention center for materials pickup including your conference bag.

Ignite 101

At previous TechEd conferences, Rick and Joey have presented TechEd 101, an orientation to the event aimed at first-time attendees.  That tradition continues with Ignite 101. Even if you’re a veteran of Microsoft conferences, we’re all first-timers for Ignite.  Stop by at one of the two sessions on Sunday to get the scoop on the week and everything going on. I’m going to attend the early session at 9AM.

Bus Schedules

In previous years, buses have run between hotels and the conference center all throughout the day. This year, buses will run in the morning and in the evening only, so there will be a period of time during the day when no buses will be running. This schedule helps reduce the carbon footprint of the vent as well as avoid adding to the traffic downtown. Generally buses will run in the morning until 10:30 AM and then resume at 3:45 PM. The Monday evening schedule runs later due to the Welcome Reception at the Expo. Baggage check will be available at McCormick on Friday if you are going directly to the airport from the center.

Hotels to McCormick McCormick to Hotels
Sunday, May 3 7:00 AM – 10:30 AM 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Monday, May 4 6:30 AM – 10:30 AM 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Tuesday, May 5 7:00 AM – 10:30 AM 3:45 PM – 6:45 PM
Wednesday, May 6 7:00 AM – 10:30 AM 3:45 PM – 6:45 PM
Thursday, May 7 7:00 AM – 10:30 AM Times TBD
Friday, May 8 7:30 AM – 2:00 PM Continuous

If you have to get back to your hotel mid-day, your best option is to use mass transit. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains are a great way to get around the city, and there’s a new stop for McCormick Place on the green line (Cermak-McCormick Place). A 7-day pass is $28, and I’ve already ordered mine so I’ll be ready when I hit the ground.

CTA is also going to be your best bet for airport transportation. It’s going to be less expensive than a cab and get you there faster. Get to know CTA while you’re in Chicago.

After Hours

I’ve looking forward to the After Hours events. The evening events and parties are a lot of fun and a great chance to ,meet people. Sometimes, however, the event can overshadow the networking and make it difficult to talk to people (music is too loud, too busy, etc.). Some of my best experiences at other conferences have come about while simply hanging out at a hotel bar with people.  If you agree, you’re going to want to attend After Hours.

Denise Begley and her team at Microsoft has worked with select conference hotels to offer food and drink specials to attendees for late night networking (8-11 PM) and relaxation. They’ve even come up with new drinks specifically for Ignite. You can see a map of the hotels offering After Hours to help you with your plans. Check out the photo album of After Hours venues to see the great spaces and places where this will all be offered. More details will be available in your conference OneNote guide.

Mealtime Mashups

To help encourage meeting new people and discussion, there will be tables organized around a theme each day Tuesday – Thursday. If you’re interested in participating, grab your lunch and head to a table that matches you and/or your interests. Table themes will be:

  • Tuesday – Regions
  • Wednesday – Industry
  • Thursday – Product


There isn’t a topic that invites as much discussion (and criticism) as conference food. Ignite is trying some new things this year, and while I’m sure people wills till find things to complain about, the organizers have given this topic a lot of thought,. and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve put together. For one thing, there will be a mix of hot and cold offerings. Breakfast and lunch will alternate; on days where a hot breakfast buffet is offered, lunch will be a cold buffet or grab and go. On days when breakfast is a continental buffet, lunch will be a hot buffet.

On Monday to help facilitate getting people lunch after the morning keynotes, lunch will be a Grab & Go lunch. This isn’t your typical box lunch, so throw away those expectations. People who have sampled these lunches have given them good reviews. And if that wasn’t enough, you might get more than good food in your lunch.  Look inside your napkin/silverware packet because selected lunches will contain a golden ticket. We don’t know yet know what prizes are up for grabs, but I’m told they’re going to be good.

Full menus are available for the entire week. No more wondering as you enter the dining hall what is going to be served. Check out the complete menu details in the blog post.

Women in Technology Meals

The Women in Technology has been a popular Wednesday event at TechEd, and this year it expands to breakfast on Thursday. The panel discussion is 1215 – 1:30 PM on Wednesday where a panel will share their insights on “Change Opens Doors and Creates Opportunity”. This event isn’t just for women., everyone is invited to attend and learn. Breakfast on Thursday is 7:30 – 8:30 AM and offers more opportunities for networking. Go to one or both!


Stickers are the hot thing these days as people decorate their devices (you have your Windows Ninja Cat on a Unicorn sticker, right?), and Ignite is going to facilitate your sticker addiction. Different stickers will be offered throughout the week to show off your product interests as well as your special status whether you’re an MVP, MCP, or even a Roundtable member (a very select group). You’ll be able to display up to five stickers on your badge. You’re probably wondering how to get stickers. Wait and see. Some stickers will be handed out at various locations and events. Keep an eye out for your favorites.

Anything Else?

What? You want more? I’d think that this long list of new and different things would be enough, but that’s it for this week. You’ll have to tune in next week for episode 12 and see what else Rick and Joey have to share with us. Time is growing short, and we’re going to be in Chicago before you know it! I’ll see you there!

You can watch the show over on Channel 9, but why not just watch it here?

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