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  • Writer's pictureTina Radcliffe

RWA Conference Insider

Updated: Jun 9, 2018

(Photo: Missy Tippens, Debby Giusti, Cate Nolan, Mary Connealy and Tina Radcliffe RWA NY 2015)

Today is dedicated to all things related to the RWA conference. This includes airlines, hotel and conference tips. This year’s conference is in Denver, Colorado and I am jazzed.


Remember, you can get the best prices if you are willing to be flexible about your departure and arrival times. Consider flying into a smaller airport nearby if you were going to rent a car anyhow.

Check out SeatGuru for insider information on all major airlines for: seating charts, in-flight amenities and airline information.

Many airlines have eliminated snacks and meals on flights less than 3 1/2 hours. Several offer meals for a fee. Consider packing healthy pre-packaged and sealed snacks or buying meals to take on board after you pass security.

Remember, once you are in flight, cash is no longer an option. You must have a credit card or debit card for all in-flight amenities to include food, movies, alcoholic beverages.

Current TSA guidelines for liquids, gels aerosol sprays are available on their site.. Do consider signing up for TSA Pre Check and if you travel a lot CLEAR may be a good option as well, although it is not in all airports yet.

Common sense again says, don’t pack essentials like medications in your checked bag in case you and your bag are separated. Did you know that many airlines have a policy that if you do not check your bag within 45 minutes of your flight they do not guarantee it will arrive with you? Running late? Find out the cut off for your airline.

Stay healthy! Hydrate, take Airborne, and use a disinfectant wipe on that tray table before you use it. It is not cleaned between flights.


Just a few simple tips to make your hotel stay more pleasant:

  • Avoid rooms near the elevator unless you want to stay awake all night.

  • Remember to tip the housekeeping staff daily (a dollar per person at least).

  • Never leave your bags unattended in the hotel.

  • Mail items to the hotel ahead of time to make traveling easier and of course use the hotel business center to mail home. Caveat: be sure they don’t charge for this service. Call and ask.

  • Conversely, find out if there is a post office or shipping facility nearby to mail conference goodies and books. Bring supplies. If all else fails, find out what the hotel business office charges. Some conference goers bring an empty suitcase or a tote if the airline allows.

  • Don't leave anything you cannot replace (valuables, sentimental items, and electronics charging) in the room when you leave for the day.

  • Bring simple amenities to utilize with the in-room coffee pot to make your trip more comfortable (favorite tea, instant soup, hot chocolate, oatmeal). Bring chocolate. You will wish you had. I always bring a favorite mug or buy one at the local coffee shop.

  • Talk to the concierge WELL ahead of time about your departure arrangements.

  • I personally never have my room cleaned if I am staying a short time and traveling alone. Instead I ask for towels to be delivered when I return each day. This avoids having my room open to the public.

  • Find out ahead of time if the tip is included with the room service charge.

  • Of course, it goes without saying: do not use the the major in-room rip offs, the phone and the mini bar. Make sure you know the rates before hooking up to the internet. Find out if the conference fee includes free Wi-Fi areas.

  • Find out the location of the nearest drugstore or grocery store and buy items such as bottled water there instead of paying $3 to $5 at the hotel.

  • Use common sense in your wardrobe choices. Conference attire is business casual. Break in new shoes ahead of time. Band-Aids for blisters can be a hard to find commodity. And do bring a sweater, as hotels are notoriously COLD!

  • Pack an extension cord, an extra portable phone charger, a sewing kit, and extra hangers! Bring one dollar bills for tips.

Inside Notes on RWA Conferences:

  • The simple truth is the RWA National Conference is huge. Plan everything ahead of time. Utilize your breakfasts to meet with your online pals. If you don't plan to specifically meet someone, you may not find them in the 2,000 + crowd even with GPS tracking.

  • Peruse the schedule carefully. You can always get the MP3 later but once an untaped workshop is over. It is over.

  • RWA offers a deal for conference attendees on recordings of the entire conference. But you will also be able to download them individually for around 4-6 bucks a pop.

  • Publisher book signings are a wonderful opportunity to get free books and meet your favorite authors but beware, the lines can be very long and time consuming. So decide your priorities right away.

  • Don't miss the Literacy Signing. The cause is great and there is a lot of fun going on.

  • If you want to attend what you know will be a packed workshop, the best strategy is to get an upfront seat at whatever workshop is in the room the hour before. Then stay parked in your seat.

  • Fangirl ?? or wanting to meet an agent or editor in a relaxed atmosphere? Volunteer to be the monitor at their workshop. Or get a front row seat at their workshop with your name badge prominently displayed and ask questions!

  • Don’t forget chats. Author chats are relaxed workshops where you can ask your favorite authors questions. A nice break from the intense workshops.

  • Editor/Agent Appointments: Two things to remember. Scout out the location ahead of time so you won't be late. RWA is doing Speed Pitch this year. Read it and weep. Then go and practice your pitch until you can say it in your sleep. Then practice a back up one for when someone asks, "What else do you have?"

  • Volunteering is a great way to meet people at conference. I highly recommend.

  • Plan your schedule ahead of time, but when you feel your eyes crossing, take a break. Text a pal and meet for coffee.

  • First timers DO attend the First Timers workshop RWA offers.


  • Do go to the Annual General Meeting. Meet your RWA Board and find out what RWA is doing with your dues. This is your organization.

  • Wear your conference badge proudly and definitely enjoy other attendee's badges. They are a road map of conference history! It’s a great conversation starter too.

  • Keep a notebook with you at all times to record incidental meetings, and quotes you hear at luncheons. At the end of the day, document who you met and what you did. It will be a great reminder when you get home and are suffering from conference brain.

  • Remember you are there to learn and network. Make it your goal to introduce yourself to someone new each day. Or several someone’s new. Don’t hang with your BFFs all the time. Get out there and NETWORK!

Above photo: Donna and I have been meeting at RWA Conferences for over 12 years.

Still have questions? RWA has a Conference FAQ section here.

Have a great conference!

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash


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