General questions

What the heck is a SpiceBuddy?

The SpiceBuddies are SpiceHeads just like you! They're a group of people who are super passionate about helping their fellow IT pros get the most out of the conference, both on a professional level and a personal level.

I'm a vendor/GG...am I welcome at SpiceBuddy events?

Absolutely! The vendors that pay for booths help make sure that the conference happens every year, and the vendors that sponsor events make the conference a ton more fun for all attendees! Our one rule is that while you're with the SpiceBuddies you're a person, not a salesperson. We definitely encourage vendors attending the conference to come visit our booth and our events, just make sure your focus is on hanging out with fellow attendees and not on selling your product.

I'm feeling super overwhelmed...where do I start??

Attending a conference for the first time can be nerve-wracking, especially if you've never been to one before or just feel uncomfortable in big groups of strangers. A SpiceBuddy is a friendly face you can look for in the sea of strangers. Feel free to reach out to any of us on the Meet the SpiceBuddies page, and join our Discord to meet people before the conference. You can also stop by our booth outside the Tech Talk Theater in the main conference hall if you want some face-to-face contact in a smaller setting.


I'm arriving early for (or leaving late after) the conference; what other stuff can I explore in the area?

The SpiceBuddies upkeep an Unofficial SpiceWorld map which labels restaurants, bars, hangouts, and other awesome stuff to do while in Austin. It's embedded on our home page, or you can open the map by clicking here.

When should I arrive in Austin? How about leaving?

While Monday is the official first day of SpiceWorld, Sunday is the unofficial start! Several vendors usually have events scheduled for Sunday evening. Monday during the day belongs to the Powershell workshop, the Carbonite Salt Lick trip and the HQ tour. Monday evening is the official kick off of SpiceWorld with the Welcome Shindig and your first opportunity to hit the vendor hall! Post-Conference weddings aside, most people head out on Thursday. With the Austin City Limits Music Festival bracketing SpiceWorld, accommodations start getting expensive after Thursday night. There’s usually a few low key farewell events scheduled on Thursday, but most people are stumbling towards the airports Thursday morning.

The hotels near the convention center are so expensive!

This year and last, booking accommodations in downtown Austin has been expensive since SpiceWorld has landed between SXSW weekends, but there are a few good tips to save some money. If you want to stay in a hotel, keep an eye on the SpiceWorld travel page here; every year Spiceworks organizes blocks of rooms at a bunch of hotels in the area, so it's a bit cheaper to book as part of the hotel block than separately. The hotels within walking distance are the best option for convenience but tend to be a bit pricier. The further hotels all have shuttles to and from the convention center, so if you're willing to give up some convenience you'll save some cash. Many SpiceHeads also look at options through Airbnb. This can be a much cheaper option, especially if you get a bigger apartment/condo and split the costs with other SpiceHeads. There are tons of options within a block or two of the convention center, and many include a free parking spot for those who drive or rent a car.

What’s the ACL?

Austin City Limits at Moody Theatre is the location of the SpiceWorld party Tuesday night. The hotel shuttles will start ferrying people to ACL Tuesday after the Happy Hour, then later will start running from ACL back to the hotels. The SpiceWorld party is where you’ll get (free!) dinner on Tuesday. There’s a live band and a great time to be had! If the dance floor and the insanity therein isn’t your cup of tea, keep climbing the stairs and you’ll find some terraces and indoor lounge areas that make for great corners to settle down with some food and network!

How do I get around in Austin?

For most stuff, your feet will do you just fine; many (if not most) official and unofficial events are within easy walking distance of the conference center. For everything else, the bus system is pretty good (make sure you have exact change) Austin has a great article on their bus system. Uber and Lyft are back in town. Pedicabs are fun (but only take cash), and the rental bikes and scooters are everywhere! You can also check out the SpiceBuddies Discord or Hangouts or post in the SpiceWorld group and see if there’s anyone going where you want to go that wouldn’t mind sharing an Uber or has a free seat in their car.

I'm arriving hours before I can check into my hotel/Airbnb...what do I do with my stuff?

The Austin Visitor Center has a Suitcase Stash program noted on their website. Quoted, "If space allows, the Visitor Center will hold your luggage for $7 per piece per day, freeing you to explore Austin unencumbered. Restrictions and limitations apply. Call (512) 478-0098 for details." You can also reach out to the SpiceBuddies through the Meet the SpiceBuddies page or on our Discord to see if someone will let you stash your luggage in their hotel/Airbnb/car.

SpiceWorld Advice & Info

What should I pack?

As little as possible to make more room for swag! Pack enough shirts to get you through Monday night. After the Vendor Showcase, you’ll have more than enough shirts to get you through the rest of the conference. Plus, some vendors will do contests where you can win a prize if they catch you wearing their swag during the conference. Bring an extra bag or suitcase (that can be checked, if you're flying) for swag. You’ll need it. You will get a backpack at registration and some vendors give away drawstring style bags as swag, so you should be set for swag storage during the conference. If you’re concerned about  being around so many people, stock up on Vitamin C pills before the conference. Unless your doctor says otherwise, it can’t hurt, and may just keep away the dreaded Con Crud.

What should I wear?

As long as all your naughty bits are covered, no one cares. Almost everyone will be in vendor shirts and jeans/shorts/leggings/kilts. There’s a special Kilt badge you get on your profile for wearing a kilt to SpiceWorld. Notable wardrobe choices at SpiceWorld include a bacon suit, capes, costumes, and a bright orange bathrobe. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure you’re comfortable. If you’re most comfortable in business casual, you won’t be alone. Austin is hot and the convention center sessions rooms can get cold, so be prepared. Rain is also in the forecast for the 2018 SpiceWorld. You’ll also be doing a lot of walking and standing, so comfortable shoes are a must.

Should I bring my laptop?

As always, this depends on you, your note taking preference, how much support you have back home, and the distance to your hotel room. You may be better off taking the pen and paper, smartphone, or tablet route for taking notes rather than pulling out your laptop. However, the SpiceWorld curse is alive and well and you could end up being one of the techs sitting against a wall, remoting in back home and putting out fires. (My Spiceworks instance crashed while I was at my first Spiceworld!) If your hotel is within walking distance of the convention center, you may want to leave your laptop in your room and run back to do your fire fighting.

What sort of things should I expect from events?

The events are as plentiful and varied as the many vendors, Spiceworkers, and SpiceHeads that make this conference what it is, and what to expect from an event depends a lot on what sort of event you're attending. If it's a vendor-sponsored event, generally you can expect some free food and/or booze, and usually some of that vendor's swag. For events put on or coordinated by other SpiceHeads, generally you'll simply find a gathering of other SpiceHeads who buy their own food/booze and enjoy each other's company. In any case, at any event you go to you can expect to find a good time with good people in a pretty laid-back atmosphere!

What's this I hear about swag?

You will get lots of swag from all the vendors and Spiceworks! Backpacks,
bottles, pens, toys, stickers, t-shirts, maybe polo shirts, socks, sunglasses, golf towels, flashlights, hats, boxers (yes boxers, last year one of the vendors was giving boxers away!). When you go into the Convention Center, bring a reusable bag or two or three. Sometimes a vendor will be giving those away. The backpack that Spiceworks gives you is not enough for all the swag. It helps staying at a hotel or Airbnb close by so you can make drop-off trips for your swag. You will need at least a half of a large suitcase to lug your haul back home, so pack light with plenty of space to take your swag back to kids, co-coworkers, spouse parents, friends, and in-laws. Some people even pack an empty bag or suitcase when they travel to Austin so they can check a full bag of swag on the way home, and others ship a package of swag home (there are multiple shipping storefronts near the Convention Center). Come by the SpiceBuddies table to see the swag from years past!

What's the Passport to Prizes?

Passport to prizes is a booklet with a grid of all the vendors that are sponsoring an item in the raffle during the Last Hurrah. In order to be entered into the raffle you will have to visit each and every vendor booth that is listed in this booklet and have them stamp their name in your booklet. When all of the squares are stamped, fill out your personal information
and turn it in at the Registration Desk. You must be present during the Last Hurrah if you want to be eligible for a raffle prize. Reach out to Jeff Grettler (Spiceworks) and Todd (Spiceworks) about what happens to the raffle tickets of the people not present. Tell them the SpiceBuddies sent you!

What are the sessions?

Sessions are presentations put on by SpiceHeads, vendors, and special guests on a topic of their expertise. There are panels on all sorts of topics, all of which are listed in the official Agenda and in the SpiceWorld app. There are usually 2-3 keynote presentations by big names in the industry, as well as some Spiceworks-branded sessions such as their On The Air Live. The rest of the sessions are put on by SpiceHeads and vendors about topics they are passionate about. There are usually various sessions on career advancement, asset management, security, training, the Spiceworks app, futureproofing (yourself and your work)...the list goes on, but it's pretty much guaranteed you'll be able to find at least a few that are relevant or at least interesting to you.

I don’t want to miss any of the sessions! What can I do about two sessions I want to see at the same time?

Some of the very popular sessions will be repeated on Wednesday. All the sessions will be recorded by SpiceWorks and posted in the SpiceWorld group some time after the conference. All the major stuff (Opening Address, keynote speakers, maybe the Raffle/Final Hurrah) will be streamed.

Just how big of a conference are we talking? How many people are going to be there?

2017 had 2500 people descend on Austin for SpiceWorld, and 1500 were SpiceHeads!

I’m not sure I can handle that many people!

SpiceWorld is what you make it. If you’re just there for the sessions and the vendor hall, you’re good. But, if you’re a SpiceHead, everyone at this conference is one of your people. Pick a table at breakfast or lunch and talk with people. Everyone at that table will know exactly what you’re talking about. Try to take a step or two outside your comfort zone. Then come back the next year and take another step. Before you know it, you’ll be a SpiceBuddy! If you do find yourself in need of some quiet alone time, the conference center has quite a few small lounge areas in the halls outside the main convention floor, as well as upstairs on higher levels. You can also check out our Unofficial Map for some great hangout suggestions.

I’m a major introvert. I need survival tips!

A great deal of IT Pros are introverts, and probably a great deal of SpiceBuddies as well! Get to know your fellow SpiceHeads! Get active in the SpiceWorld group! Join the SpiceBuddies Discord and/or Hangouts channel! Make friends in the Community that you can’t wait to meet IRL at SpiceWorld! Schedule in some "me time" to decompress. If there’s a session block with nothing that catches your eye, head back to your room or grab a chair in the hallway with your laptop or phone. Hang out in an empty session room for a little bit. SpiceWorld is a marathon, not a sprint. Take a break when you need to!

How bad are vendor follow-ups going to be after the conference?

If you do the Passport to Prizes and visit all the vendors, then yes it can be bad. When the emails and calls are coming in, remember: the vendors are why we get SpiceWorld. The vast majority of the vendors are very respectful if you tell them “no,” and even with their initial contact are not overly pushy like many salespeople. If you do have any SpiceWorld vendors that are being disrespectful or overly pushy, please reach out to SpiceWorld to let them know! When this has happened in previous years, Spiceworks stepped in and spoke to the problem vendors to explain how to better interact with SpiceHeads. Generally the wave of follow-up emails dies down by the end of the year, but if the volume of email is an issue we suggest creating a new email address to register for SpiceWorld next year. Many IT pros own their own web domains, so it's generally a simple thing to create a spiceworld@domain.com email.