Many who read my posts are intrigued by the thought of attending a sweepstakes convention, but the fear of not knowing what to expect keeps them at home. I thought it was time I wrote about not what happens at a convention, but what you can expect to experience as an attendee.
I will start by saying it took my attending three conventions before I really got the hang of the flow of events and fun. I hope this post will eliminate your learning curve allowing you to experience a convention at the fullest from the get-go.
The first convention I attended was the 16th Annual National Sweepstakes Convention* in Moline IL. We drove most of the way on Wednesday and Thursday we drove the rest of the way. After checking in at the hotel we registered and took a walk through the Vendor Room. I was overwhelmed. So many tables selling so much stuff: envelopes, postcards, newsletters, raffle tickets. I didn’t buy anything as I didn’t understand the value. I recommend budgetting $100 cash for the Vendor Room to buy all sorts of goodies and be in to win from all the raffles.
That night was the Meet-N-Greet. Sweepers are so friendly. People I had just met treated me like they had always known me. I made lifelong friends that weekend. Conventions over the years I have attended have had anywhere from 450-1100 people. For a first timer, a large crowd can be intimated. Don’t be. Smile. Say HI. You will meet amazing people.
The next two days were filled with speakers and prizes. In every registration package you will find: your name badge, session draw tickets, itinerary, freebies and vendor information sheets. at the beginning of each session, you drop the appropriate ticket into the drum. In the past they were paper and every single sweeper crumpled them. Nothing would move and the hosts would have to do a good job of randomizing the winners. Names would be announced so you would have to listen closely. Now they are cards with bar codes. Crumpling is against the rules. As winners are selected, the card is scanned and their names appear on screen. Much better as, for example, there is more than one Carolyn that attends each convention, so seeing the full name confirms when I should jump up and whoop!
Always read the convention rules. In the past, the entries for the additional drawings at the banquet were accepted at the event. Now they are usually pre-paid. If you want to be in to win envelopes, stamps, gift cards, etc., you will need send your payment in advance.
The dress code for the convention is casual and most people dress up for the banquet. I find the air conditioning to usually be set at arctic, so I wear shoes, vs sandals, so my feet stay warm and I always bring sweaters.
Depending on the convention hotel, breakfast may or may not be included. The only meal guaranteed to be included with your registration fee is the banquet meal. It’s a fantastic opportunity to experience local cuisine. I really must remember to do research in advance. I missed out on Mike’s Pastry’s famous cannolis last summer in Boston.
Many times the convention hosts arrange outings for the attendees during down times. I don’t always take advantage, but I am always glad I did. In Moline IL we went on a dinner cruise. In Boston MA, we went on a trolley tour of the city. Take note that these excursions are an added expense, so add them into your travel budget.
The main takeaway is to be open, go with the flow and have fun!
If I missed anything, send me any questions you have regarding attending a sweepstakes convention and I will answer it on an episode of #AskCarolynAnything.
Links to Articles and Posts
- 2006 – 17th ANSC – Phoenix AZ
- 2007 – 18th ANCS – Detroit MI
- 2008 – 19th ANSC – San Antonio TX
- 2009 – 20th ANSC – Manchester NH
- 2010 – 21th ANSC – Minneapolis MN
- 2011 – 22nd ANSC – Fort Wayne IN – I couldn’t attend.
- 2012 – 23rd ANSC – Atlanta GA – For some reason I didn’t blog about this convention.
- 2013 – 24th ANSC – Salt Lake City UT
- 2014 – 25th ANSC – Orlando FL – I didn’t blog about this convention either.
- 2015 – 26th ANSC – Boston MA
- Future events details can be found on my convention page.
Will you be willing to attend a convention now?
*NOTE: None of the links in the newsletter work anymore.