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AWS re:Invent 2016 Reserved Seating is live: claim your sessions now

By Andrew Nhem on October 13, 2016
As of October 19th at 10AM, AWS is allowing re:Invent attendees to save a seat at the sessions that they want to attend the most, for the first time ever. Learn how to smoothly reserve a session and get some advice on how to make sure you get into your talks.

As of October 19th at 10AM, AWS is allowing re:Invent attendees to save a seat at the sessions that they want to attend the most, for the first time ever. Learn how to smoothly reserve a session and get some advice on how to make sure you get into your talks.

NOTE: There was a bit of an interruption in Session Planner access this morning that looks resolved. Our engineers found that logging out and then back into your Session Planner refreshes the experience, allowing you to navigate the planner and reserve talks without an issue.

What we’ll cover in this article

Do I really need to reserve a seat?

With an estimated 29,000 attendees, re:Invent 2016 will be AWS’s largest one yet. So, if attendees from previous years had a hard time getting into sessions and finding a seat, expect this year’s to have even more of a challenge. With an estimated 70% of attendees experiencing re:Invent for the first time, AWS plans on making the event as enjoyable as possible.

To make the event more accessible and rewarding, AWS released the brand new Reserved Seating function for the 2016 event. Attendees can now reserve a seat ahead of time for their favorite sessions, which everyone should access via Session Planner to get going!

As we learned from their webinar on using Reserved Seating:

AWS expects attendees to make the re:Invent app and the Session Planner a main part of their experience, so be sure to download the app and make sure your login works ahead of time. AWS plans on releasing the re:Invent 2016 app two weeks before the event. We recommend leaving a note sometime in mid-November as a reminder.

How to reserve a seat for a session

Using a production environment as an example, AWS walked everyone through how to reserve a seat.

Step 1: Log into the Session Planner

step1

Step 2: Either search for a session by name, or use the filters to identify sessions

step2

Step 3: Click on the “Scheduling Options” drop down, and then “plus button” to add the session to your calendar.

step3

step4

Successfully added sessions will become green. If unable to reserve, the session will turn yellow, indicating that you’ve been added to a waitlist. NOTE: Attendees may only be waitlisted for one session at a time for a given time slot!

step5

Attendees can manage their scheduled sessions using the calendar function of the Session Planner.

How does the waitlist function work?

Once a session reaches its maximum capacity, attendees are added to a waitlist, which also has limited availability. Here’s another reminder that attendees can only be on one waitlist per calendar time slot. This limitation warrants the need for attendees to carefully choose which sessions they join waitlists for.

Can I just walk into a session?

AWS expects sessions to fill up, but will invite walk-ins to wait for available seating. Once badges are scanned and the event begins, folks who are registered, but aren’t at the session in time, will lose their seat to a walk-in attendee.

Planning ahead is key to ensuring that you don’t get shut out of a session. Our re:Invent veterans recommend planning ample amounts of time to travel between venues. Use the Session Planner calendar to add “personal time” to plan ahead between sessions.

According to Google Maps, walking between each venue can take up to:

These estimated times are well under the 30 minutes between sessions during re:Invent, but please keep in mind that there will potentially be 28,999 other people trying to get to their sessions as well. A great rule of thumb would be to leave early and walk briskly.

For people who plan on stopping in their hotel rooms, plan ahead and don’t book back-to-back sessions when you know you might need some rest. Going to the hotel rooms during a busy day in Las Vegas will add significant travel time.

Will I need the re:Invent app?

AWS emphasized that the Session Planner and the re:Invent app will be critical to fully experiencing the 2016 event. The mobile and tablet app, available approximately two weeks prior to re:Invent, is available for iOS and Android only. For Windows phone users, there will still be a mobile web version available.

The app and Session Planner will contain your schedule, as well as other event-related features from AWS. As talks are added and adjusted in real-time, the app and Session Planner will be the best way to reserve a seat or to navigate event changes.

How can I make sure I don’t get shut out of a session?

Here’s an overview of what to do to prevent being shut out of a session.

Make sure your AWS login works properly

Though you might have all your AWS fees paid, airfare booked, and hotel locked in, please make sure your event login works. You need it to access the Session Planner and the AWS re:Invent app at a later date.

Key 2016 change: AWS now requires a photo for each registrant. Be sure to choose one that is clear and easily recognizable to reduce the wait time when going to your talks.

Start with your “Favorites” list

Now that the Reserved Seating feature is live for the re:Invent 2016 session planner, start with your Favorites list. If you’re unsure about a talk to commit a time slot to, you can at least save it to your Favorites list. Keep in mind that there will be thousands of other folks vying for the same seats, so don’t wait too long!

Observe that “Waitlisting” will be deactivated before re:Invent

Remember that Waitlisting gets deactivated about 7 to 14 days prior to re:Invent. So, don’t put off your reservations or waitlisting until the last minute.

Use the Session Planner calendar to visualize your day

AWS has a “personal time” option on the Session Planner to help attendees enter free time that can represent work, meetings, meal times, breaks, and other personal contexts to help plan event days better. Use these blocks as reminders to be on the move between sessions. Also, keep in mind the walking times (noted above) and plan for ample travel time as it will be a very busy event.

Other key questions answered by AWS

Here’s a short collection of critical questions and answers about the re:Invent Session Planner and Reserved Seating feature that we gathered from the AWS webinar.

“When will the schedule for re:Invent 2016 be finalized, and how will attendees register for sessions announced after keynotes?”

Most sessions are currently listed in the Session Planner. Once Reserved Seating is live on October 19th, attendees will be able to view date and time information related to each session. Attendees will be able to reserve seats in newly announced sessions onsite via the mobile app, but if you have any conflicting sessions, you will need to cancel them before you can add a new session to your calendar.

“Is there a limit to the number of sessions an attendee can reserve?”

Attendees are limited to one session per time slot as attendees cannot be double booked, but there aren’t any caps to the number of sessions an attendee can reserve during re:Invent.

“Do attendees need to register for the keynotes?”

Attendees do not need to register for keynotes, but there is a cap on the number of attendees who can watch the keynote in the hall. If you aren’t able to score a seat in the main hall, don’t worry. AWS will have an assortment of options for watching the keynote in overflow rooms where attendees can watch in theater-style seating or more casual environments where attendees can take in the talks while sipping on morning beverages.

“What happens if sessions fill up quickly?”

One of the great benefits we see with Reserved Seating is that AWS plans on moving popular sessions to larger venues and/or scheduling repeat sessions of the most popular talks.

“I’m registered for a bootcamp. Will I have to add it to my schedule to be sure I’m not double-booking myself?”

Attendees who registered for bootcamps will find them already blocked out on their Session Planner calendar. Don’t forget that you can also block out personal time on your Session Planner.

“Can an attendee reserve seats in sessions on behalf of other colleagues in their group?”

As attendees can only book one seat per attendee per session, folks looking to book sessions for the rest of their group will need to log into their colleagues’ re:Invent accounts to reserve sessions on their behalves.

“Will sessions I favorite automatically be added to my calendar?”

The favorites list is for planning purposes only. Attendees will have to take the additional step to reserve sessions they favorite to their schedule. On the bright side, you’ll be able to favorite multiple sessions scheduled during the same time so you can review them all before scheduling the one you want to attend.

See you at re:Invent at Booth #1821!

Between your sessions, feel free to come hang out with us at Booth #1821. We’d be glad to hang out, talk shop, and get to know everyone at re:Invent. For more updates like this one, sign up for our re:Invent coverage.

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