(Almost) Wordless Wednesday November 25, 2015Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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Money-saving strategies for attending the ATA conference November 18, 2015Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices.
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Every year people complain about the cost of the conference, but I find I can’t afford not to go. The new business and contacts it generates for me and the pleasure of being around like-minded people who get me make it one of the best weeks of the year. I was inspired to write this after reading a recent post on The Simple Dollar entitled 12 Strategies for Saving Money on Convention or Conference Trips. Here are my tips for saving money for or at the ATA conference, some of them inspired by the article and some from past experience at our conferences.
1) Get a roommate or several. I always stay at the conference hotel, because it allows me to go up to my room if I need a break and it is where a lot of my friends stay. Even if you stay at a hotel that is nearby, ATA offers a roommate referral service every year. I had booked a single king bed room this year when that was all that was left and was approached shortly before the conference asking if I would consider a roommate with a roll-away bed. Instead of paying $800 for my room, it only cost me $400. In past years I have also been known to have a couple roommates. The Kent State students always sleep 4 to a room. Having a roommate really saves money.
2) Save throughout the year. The conference generally runs me about $1500 including registration fee, hotel room, flight and meals. By putting a little bit of money aside every month it isn’t as painful. It also helps to register as soon as registration opens, book your flight a month or two later and then just deal with hotel and meals at the conference. By spreading out the cost it isn’t as painful.
3) Plan ahead and register early. This ties in with number 2. By registering by the Early Bird Deadline you can save some money, because the price spikes after the deadline. Also, flights are cheaper the longer out you book them.
4) Take advantage of the Welcome Reception, breakfast, and coffee breaks. The Welcome Reception always offers some food stations with nibbles and beverages (this year they cut it down to one, but every little bit helps). Even if you are staying at a nearby hotel as a conference attendee you are allowed (if not expected) to fill up on pastries, fruit and oatmeal every morning. Instead of hitting Starbucks or a nearby coffee shop make sure you hit the coffee breaks for a coffee or tea. I learned a tip from Marian Greenfield to bring my own ATA mug with me so that I can bring one to go into the next session.
5) Attend exhibitor parties and client dinners. Some of the software vendors, such as Wordfast, have parties which are quite popular. Back in the day, Trados also used to have a great desserts party. I even won a software package there once. Ah, the good old days… Pro tip: get there as early as you can to make sure you can get some food. Also, see if your clients are having a get-together for their vendors. Even if they are just buying a drink at the hotel bar that will still save some money.
6) Set a spending budget for your business. I used to always buy one dictionary a year at the conference. The conference is also a great place to save on translation software. Most companies announce their special conference prices ahead of time, so if you are looking to buy a new TEnT or upgrade an existing one this is the time to do it.
7) Ask for a refrigerator and consider low cost options for lunches and dinners. If you are on a special diet, have to refrigerate medication, like real coffee creamer, or have leftovers a refrigerator is a must. Consider buying food and keeping it in the room for affordable meals. The conference in Miami was located across from a Whole Foods, which many people took advantage of. The concierge also offered me a refrigerator when I checked it, but booking one ahead ensures one is available.
8) Buy beer or a bottle and have drinks in your room. I had never thought to do this before, but it makes sense. The best place to socialize at the conference is the hotel bar, but if you are on a budget consider inviting some colleagues up to your room for a get-together. I might do this one night next year. My roommate bought a bottle of wine, and we had a nice drink together the first night of the conference in our room, which was nice. Just be sure to bring a wine bottle opener if you do.
9) Pack a water bottle. I do this for every trip I go on, but it came in handy this year because water was not as abundant as it has been in the past. Not to mention that the in-room bottles of water the hotel “provided” for us were priced at $6.50.
10) Write out a packing list. This year I thought I had forgotten to pack my toothbrush. Luckily I was able to call Housekeeping for a new one, but I still had to tip the Housekeeper who delivered it. I found my toothbrush in my suitcase the next day. If I had packed it with my toiletries like I normally do I wouldn’t have had trouble finding it. So pack based on your list and be aware where you stow things. A checklist that you prepare a month or week ahead of time ensures you don’t forget anything when you pack your suitcase.
11) Pack redundantly. Always pack a day or two of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on bag in case your suitcase gets lost! Make sure you have necessities like medication and contact lens solution as well. I remember getting stuck in Chicago due to weather on the way home from Seattle and having to beg a fellow traveler for some contact lens solution to put in a Dixie cup for my contacts.
12) Pack carefully based on the location and predicted weather. In addition to being surprised by just how cold it was in our air-conditioned hotel, several people were surprised by just how hot it was outside in Miami this year. Bring appropriate clothes, but also remember a shawl or sweater for the conference rooms. I was completely unprepared for the colder weather in Phoenix and had to buy several pants and shirts at a clothing store. Also, try your clothes on before packing them in case you gained some weight this year. We sit a lot in comfy clothes and might not be aware that our business casual clothes might not fit anymore. Also, remember that it can get cold in November in colder climates and bring a coat.
13) Consider presenting a session. Presenters are usually given a discount on the conference registration. Every little bit helps, and you’ll be boosting your presence and sharing your invaluable knowledge with others.
14) Be happy our conference is so affordable. People always complain about the cost of the conference, but conferences in other industries are often double or triple what we pay. Even with the price going up so much this year due to the Board decision for the conference to be self-sustaining it is still worth it. Consider everything we get for the price of the conference: the preliminary and final programs and daily updates; the conference app; name badges and ribbons; language dots to identify your languages; breakfast and coffee breaks; ice water (whether in the session room or in the hallway); the Welcome Reception and a drink; networking events like the Networking Brainstorm, Afterhours Cafe, division get-togethers and Resume Exchange; the Closing Reception; the Conference Dance; the Exhibit Hall; 175 sessions to choose from and enough rooms to hold them; division meetings; audiovisual equipment for the meeting rooms and the main ballroom; recording services for the eConference DVD; free wifi this year (!); the on-site ATA staff to ensure everything is running smoothly and temporary workers to staff the Registration booths; and probably a bunch of other things of which we aren’t even aware. Not a bad trade-off for the $485 registration fee. I do, however, dearly miss the chair massages in the Exhibit Hall!!
If you have a money-saving tip or I missed something, feel free to add it in the comments.
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday November 18, 2015Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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From Translators Anonymous:
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(Almost) Wordless Wednesday November 11, 2015Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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Translation: A book already contains the daily requirement of A, B, C, D, E and K. And many other essential letters.
ATA conference recap November 9, 2015Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
Today is the first day back after the ATA conference. I’m moving a little slowly, but I am up way earlier than I would usually be up (probably because I felt like going to bed at 9 PM last night but pushed it until 11). The first couple days back are always kind of anti-climatic, and I have some malaise, missing all the action and seeing all the wonderful people.
The conference this year was held in Miami. I didn’t see much of the city. I have traveled too much this year (having had vacations in Iceland, Charleston and New York City), so I decided to make it a short trip and just focus on the conference. Also, I just rescued a cat from a neighbor’s backyard and have been stressed out trying to integrate him with my cat and dog. I flew in on Wednesday night (missing the Buddies Welcome Newbies event and Welcome Reception, which I was sad about) and flew out Sunday morning. So I didn’t hit the beach or venture too far from the hotel this year, and that was okay. I was able to focus on sessions and on catching up with colleagues.
The hotel was located on the river, which was nice because I wasn’t tempted to hit the beach. We were able to watch yachts, pleasure boats and shipping barges float through and sail under the high MetroMover bridge and the drawbridges. Traffic in Miami is intense, so I was happy to rely on the MetroMover, taxis and Uber when I did venture out.
I had booked a room by myself, but was talked into having a roommate at the last minute. She ordered a roll-away bed and tucked it away in the corner. The two of us did not see much of each other (she was usually asleep by the time I got in), but she was an extremely pleasant roommate. If you are afraid of the cost of the conference, having a roommate can defray that cost. ATA offers a roommate referral service every year. This year it was in blog form, which may not be the best format, because I could not delete my original post and had received several inquiries about being a roommate after booking my king bed room. If anyone has a better solution please let me know so I can pass it on.
Wednesday night was spent catching up with friends in the bar over drinks and a quick flatbread. It was an early night for me though, because it had been such a rough week and I needed a good night’s sleep to fully enjoy the conference. Thursday night was the German Language Division event at the Intercontinental Hotel. I had toyed with the idea of not attending, because it is expensive and usually too crowded for my tastes (I can get a little claustrophobic). The venue this year was really dark, but it was very roomy and I found a table and sat down with some friends to catch up. The constantly circulating trays of appetizers (tuna tartare, beef empanadas, ceviche, caprese skewers, a Caesar salad wedge and some meat ball) filled us up.
One of the highlights for me is quickly becoming a tradition – a visit to a Brazilian churrascaria. I organized a group of 8 on Friday night. We had a couple others join us as the night progressed. The more the merrier I say. We went around the corner to an affordable churrascaria (only $27 not including drinks and dessert when they normally runs around $40) and ate our fill from the salad bar, hot dishes and skewers and skewers of meat. This particular restaurant didn’t have its liquor license, but that’s okay because we were there for the company and the food. Too bad the group of Germans who followed us to the restaurant thought I was joking when I told them there was no alcohol there. They ended up leaving and having a lovely meal elsewhere.
My presentation (Beyond the Basics: Tips for Better Formatting in MS Word) went well, and I received a lot of compliments. I was a little surprised that I finished it so quickly, but that left plenty of time for lots of formatting questions. One thing I did want to say (and it is probably my fault) is that it is probably a good idea to applaud for the speaker before you leave the room. This was not the first time I witnessed this at this conference. Like I said, it was probably my fault because I tend to be embarrassed by applause, but it also happened in the session directly after mine. We aren’t trained speakers, so we are not trained to pause for applause. Please make sure you do so to thank the presenter.
The only true criticism I had about the conference was not having enough seating for breakfast and not announcing the lack of tote bags early enough that some attendees weren’t surprised by the news (a move I applaud, BTW), but I think overall it was an excellent conference. The seating in the Regency Ballroom was comfy and offered a good view of the podium. I attended three fantastic medical translation sessions on the first day, attended several other sessions on project manager-translator relations, financial translation and PDFs, was able to take a break to hit the pool and to have a leisurely lunch with colleagues at the uniquely named restaurant El Cartel, and got to see just about everyone I wanted to see.
I spent Saturday afternoon in the bar and had the best networking experience of the conference. I met some amazing colleagues who I did not know through several I did, and we all ended up friending each other on Facebook at the end. We had planned on having a post-presentation drink and attending the Closing Session, but it was so enjoyable that we just stayed and stayed and stayed. I look forward to getting to know them better this year. You all rock!
Saturday night I went out with my core group of girlfriends and finally got a chance to see and talk with Corinne McKay, our President-Elect. I’m sure she is going to do an excellent job! We went to a Cuban restaurant that was loud and dark, but it had great food and the company was excellent. I had my first Rum Chata as well as a Cafe Cubano and some amazing plaintains, lobster and shrimp.
While filling out the Overall Survey in the airport I realized that I did not attend a single special event. This surprised me, and I intend to change that next year. The organizers offer something for everyone, and I hope that those of you who attended found a special event that you enjoyed.
And now it is time to buckle down and get back to work. I had some work pile up while I was at the conference. Isn’t that the way it always is? I hope those of you who attended had a great time at the conference. I urge those of you who have not yet attended to consider attending it next year. It’s in San Francisco and the hotel is in a fun location, near the Ferry Building, Chinatown and the Tadich Grill. The conference is a highlight of the year for me and everyone else who attends. It reenergizes me and makes me love my job even more. I’m just going to really miss the freshly squeezed passion fruit juice.
For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, here is the ATA’s official video recap of the conference.
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday November 4, 2015Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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Happy Halloween October 31, 2015Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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Quote from one of my college friends on FB “I think the factory in China that made this skeleton decoration needs to hire a better translator for their packaging …”
Quick tip for the upcoming conference October 30, 2015Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
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From today’s ATA Newsbriefs:
Bring your own tote
The ATA Conference is eliminating the conference tote. But don’t worry! There will be a Goodie Bag available for collecting swag in the Exhibit Hall. Want something a little sturdier? A “professional version” of the old conference tote will be for sale at the ATAware table.
I think this is a great idea, because most of us have been recycling our bags after the conference and there won’t be mix-ups since the totes will no longer look alike. Plus, I’ve been bringing this one with me for several years now.
See you all in Miami.