OK – we have returned! The last conference I attended was the RSA Conference in 2020 which many feared would be a super spreader event (and it was not). Check out my posting from 3 years ago and compare!
And now we return to our first in person conference since then. Here is my experience this year.
The chaos at the airports was quite loud in the news and media, and I have to admit, it was not too bad. Yes, it was very crowded and it was hard to easily walk between gates due to the volume of people, but it was manageable. With CLEAR and TSA precheck, I was through security in less than 10 minutes. If you do not have have them, well… Plan for at least 30 minutes.
The airline clubs are full, but not too crowded and uncomfortable. Unless you want into the American Express Centurion lounge and that has very long lines. I will stick with Delta.
It was nice to see the Marriot Marquis being fully open again with all services. It was nice to get a free corner room upgrade for being Titanium Elite status, but the windows do not close very well…and at night the city sounds get to be quite noisy and distracting. I guess that is why they have noise machines in the room despite being on the 27 floor…
It was cool to see that the Elite club lounge was open again which was a delight for snacks, morning breakfast, etc. Score!
Only about 20% of the people anywhere are wearing masks. The conference is very strict about showing that you are “safe” and are vaccinated to get to registration or get your badge. I found the crowd sizes and the available space to be much more comfortable than previous years. Still I was paranoid and wear my mask everywhere and even wore a N95 when inside despite the painful straps on the ears.
The weather was great. I am not missing the waves of rain that usually came down every day when this conference was held in February.
The expo hall was huge and packed with all kinds of vendors again. The cybersecurity market is always hot, desperate and evolving.
I did not see as many senior industry people on the Expo floor as previous years. I believe many focused most of their time in private venues and rooms and less time in the public spaces.
But the enterprise market is hot and you can evidence of this when Google has a booth at the conference when they refused for 10+ years to do so.
Of course I went running every morning to work off the snack foods and “beverages” that go along with conferences. It was a little chilly, bit was nice to be at a conference when it is not dumping rain like the traditional February RSA Conference schedule.
It was nice to see how many additional security conference attendees are making this part of their traditional morning routine in San Francisco as well 🙂
It was a delight to be invited to speak at a smaller audience meeting at the Olympic Club which was fantastic with great classic decor, amazing appetizers and wine service to compliment the discussion.
What was the major highlight for me? No, I did not go to any of the big, loud or crowded parties this time. It is just still too risky with COVID and my additional travel coming up in less than two weeks. It was the opportunity to attend and network with some other industry leaders at the Michelin star quality Saison restaurant. What an experience – food and wine pairing was 5 star!
Flying out was a zoo for sure. Many more people were wearing masks in the airport, but once you were in the airport lounge or plane, no way. Having CLEAR and/or TSA pre-check helps a lot with the lines. It is manageable, but definitely have patience and extra time to ensure you are not pressed for time to make your flight.
Stay tuned to this channel, the next international security conference is coming soon!