With the annual Offshore Technology Conference and Exhibition (OTC 2017) on the horizon, many are hoping for a resurgence in traffic and participation following last-year’s dramatic decline. No doubt affected by the recent plummeting of the price of crude, along with the thousands laid off between mid-2015 and into 2016, there seemed to be a somewhat œho-hum atmosphere last May. (While still ranking in the event’s top-15 in attendance, year-over-year numbers went from around 95,000 down to just over 68,000.)
This year, with crude production expected to grow in some areas, the outlook is better. Companies who have been forced to cut costs and endure layoffs are looking ahead toward stabilizing and reinvesting in cutting-edge technology. Attendees from all over the globe will flock to NRG Park to gain valuable insights on various sectors of their industries.
Heavy focus this year will be on responsible and efficient offshore production, along with how the current geopolitical climate may affect international business operations. In addition to a myriad of technical discussions and seminars, people will also be here to network. Hotels will be full, along with their respective conference room bookings.
The entire city of Houston is getting in on participation”the hometown Major League Baseball team, the Astros, are offering group discounts for OTC attendees looking to take in a ballgame. (Even better that the games are against division rivals, the Texas Rangers!)
Now, an age-old conundrum with attending conferences is finding ways to spend less time waiting around. The official OTC website has some great information on planning one’s visit, including hotel recommendations, but here’s some additional recommendations:
- Use the Metro Rail “ depending on where you want to go (or where you’re staying), it can save an sizeable amount of money over paying for Uber and/or taxis. You can jump on right at NRG Park and take it all the way to the other end of Downtown Houston. All along the route are restaurants, bars, clubs, music venues, and other places of interest. And even with the multiple stops, it can be quicker than waiting in vehicle traffic around the conference. (Trust us on this one.)
- Remember to make dinner reservations “ Houston provides some of the finest and most diverse dining in the country, and we take advantage of it. With an additional 100,000+ people coming in for OTC, you will find a wait everywhere. Better yet, venture off the beaten path (see previous Metro Rail suggestion). There are countless locally owned places tucked away mere blocks from all those restaurants filled with folks dressed in business casual.
- Visit the Galleria “ This is for those looking to network. Both Westin hotels at the Galleria tend to be full of conference attendees, as are the majority of people at its restaurants and certain stores. (Traffic at the Apple Store tends to triple during OTC, where you’ll have a good shot at bumping iPhones with industry leadership.)
At the end of the day, companies will be looking to gain valuable industry insight to better plan and strategize for the roads that lie ahead. Given that everyone’s goals are different, it can be hard to determine what a successful investment in an event like OTC look like.
The key point here is to understand that it will be impossible to absorb and retain every bit of information. Take advantage of the technical program and schedule of events to prepare for only the hottest-button items relevant to your unique situation.
Leave free time available. Enjoy the Houston hospitality. Most importantly, don’t be the last person hanging around at the party/networking mixer!
Final note: I’ll be in attendance at OTC. If you can find me in the sea of other attendees, you may win a prize!