I recently read through Nick Triantafillou’s excellent review of AWS re:Invent 2018 SWAG and feel there needs to be a bit of a level set for people who didn’t attend. This is especially true if you are considering attending next year, and you expect to take home a massive haul of free stuff. Not everyone who attends walks away with all of the items. Know that the best way to get swag at re:Invent is to have a plan.
2018 was my 1st re:Invent and I’d only had some vague sense that there was a lot of decent swag to pick up. Having attended a few other conferences earlier in the year, I figured it would simple to get most items. At worst, I might have to get stamps from a few different booths in order to score something really nice. Reality did not meet expectations.
The big prize of the show was the Deep Learning Racer. With an estimated price of $250 while also having it months before anyone else, it was a hot pick up. To acquire one, however, you had to attend a special session on machine learning. There were several of the sessions available, but re:invent sessions often hit capacity shortly after the online session builder goes live. Moreover, the session did not indicate that the car would be the giveaway. Waitlisting was technically possible, but it was discouraged and many people were turned away.
The next best prizes were the Amazon echo family of devices. These were made available to those who completed a #ExperienceAlexa scavenger hunt meant to teach attendees more about the capabilities as well as boost social media presence. If you weren’t among the very first each day to complete the hunt, then you got a t-shirt.
As for the swag from Mission, I think it’s pretty obvious that having to have come across a Reddit post makes this not for the average attendee. The NES Classic, a Deep Lens, or an Echo Plus are all awesome prizes, but discovery is a bit of an issue. I didn’t even know this was a give away until I read the article.
The point of this post isn’t to dissuade people from getting swag. The point is to let future attendees know that they need a plan. They need to research. But even more importantly, attendees need to choose what’s important to them. The conference is spread across multiple hotels making it a non-trival task to move from event -to event looking for prizes. Furthermore, hunting for prizes may mean you miss keynotes, or other sessions. Also, consider what happens if you put the time in and don’t walk away with a prize. will your time still have been worth it vs. doing something else at the conference? The free stuff comes at the expense of your time and attention, so make sure its worth it.