Conference in Miami in November: where do I even start?
March 2, 2015 8:46 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to attend the ATA Conference in Miami this November (I live in CA.) I've never planned a trip of this scale by myself, and I'd like some help! Special snowflakes inside.

So I'll (hopefully) be attending the American Translators' Association conference in Miami this November! Yay! I'd like to start planning/saving up, but I have no idea where to begin.

- I'm a student, and on a limited budget. I'd like to keep the trip (flight/hotel/tix/whatever) under $1500, and ideally closer to $1000 if necessary. Is this realistic?

- Are are there any particular upsides to staying in the conference hotel? I'm fine couchsurfing or kipping in a hostel for a few days.

- How decent is public transport in Miami? I don't drive and likely won't learn by November.

- Has anyone been to ATA? What was it like? I've been trying to look for recaps of previous years but my Google-fu is failing me.

posted by Tamanna to Travel & Transportation around Miami, FL (9 answers total)
Usually the conference hotel is offered at a greatly reduced rate, depending on the conference and the hotel. Other than cost the main benefit, to me at least, is convenience. Having my home base close enough to the conference sessions that I can pop back to my room if I get 20 minutes is sweet.
posted by Cosine at 9:23 PM on March 2, 2015

Yes, there are big upsides to staying in the conference hotel in my experience. At the conferences I've been to, the relationships I've forged with other attendees have been much more valuable than the actual conference programs. A lot of those relationships are forged over dinner or drinks, and being able to do that in the hotel, talk until the wee hours of the morning, and then stumble back to your room is a huge plus. And then not having to get up at an ungodly hour to get back to the hotel for the next day's program is big too. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's not worth going if you can't stay at the conference hotel, but I will say that a significant number of my best conference experiences probably wouldn't have happened if I was staying off-site (except maybe at a hotel within a block or two).

What part of CA are you in (i.e. what airport will you be flying out of)? That will make a difference on flight costs and options.
posted by primethyme at 9:26 PM on March 2, 2015

Conferences can be tiring and involve a ton of walking - between talks, to lunches or special sessions, through exhibit halls - and a lot of scheduled time - you may have events you're interested in from 8am to 8pm. Especially if you don't drive, the conference hotel will probably be much more convenient than alternatives.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:27 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm in Monterey, which means flying out of either San Jose or SFO.
posted by Tamanna at 9:40 PM on March 2, 2015

American Airlines flies direct from SFO to MIA. I wouldn't fly from SJC because I don't think there are any direct flights. You should be able to do that round trip for well under $500, depending on the exact dates (though I didn't check the actual conference dates or the current pricing).
posted by primethyme at 10:03 PM on March 2, 2015

Nthing all above re: networking and convenience of the actual conference hotel. In most cases, I'd stay at the conference hotel.

Not a direct answer to "is $1000 realistic", but I have been to conferences where I had to be more price-sensitive. I have been able to save a lot of money compared to the conference hotel rates using Priceline, Hotwire, and/or Airbnb to book something within walking distance.

Once, I was even able to book the exact same conference hotel using Priceline, saving about 40% even over the discounted conference rate. (I used BetterBidding to help plan my Priceline bid and figure out the identities of the unknown hotels.)

Also, do you know anyone else attending the conference? Could you share a room with them?
posted by melvinwang at 3:08 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the benefits of staying in the conference hotel are real, and major. That said, it's been my experience that it's not always a particularly good deal $$$-wise, and if it's a location with multiple hotels within walking distance then booking somewhere else might be worthwhile. I just would not want to be traveling across town every day.

Depending on what the situation is with regards to meals (does your conference fee cover lunch or any banquets or are you on your own the whole time?) some research ahead of time will help you not be scrambling for food and ending up at whatever crappy overpriced restaurant is in viewing distance from the hotel. On that note, bring snacks (e.g. granola/energy bars), and if you're a coffee/tea drinker be prepared to drink many cups--conferences are tiring.

Have fun!
posted by quaking fajita at 6:34 AM on March 3, 2015

Not only does having a roomie cut your hotel expense in half, it can help socially (wingperson at the ready!) If you don't know anyone who will be attending, room sharing might be arranged on social media or the organization's web forum or listserv.
posted by in278s at 8:04 AM on March 3, 2015

I live in Miami. Depending on where the conference is, public transport probably won't be an issue, except from/to the airport. I usually take an uber and it's about $30. Check out this link for the Metro map.

Hotels are expensive in Miami. It's better, in my opinion, though, to stay at the conference hotel. It's better for networking, better to save on transport, better to get you to those 8 am sessions.

Check with your student government associations for travel funding, the Grad School and your dept. There's generally some money to help with student travel of this nature.
posted by mrfuga0 at 11:10 AM on March 4, 2015

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