Help this first-time tcworld attendee, please!

Alan Pringle / Conferences16 Comments

Whew! I’m just back from the excellent LavaCon event in Portland. I have (mostly) recovered from that trip, so now I’m focusing on the upcoming tcworld conference in Wiesbaden, Germany. And I need your help!

tcworld 2013 logoNext week will be my first visit to tcworld (and to Germany). Veteran tcworld attendees are accustomed to seeing Sarah O’Keefe there,  and Sarah’s already given me some great pointers on what to expect. I’d like to get some advice from you, too, on:

  • Choosing sessions. Do you have a strategy for picking sessions? What’s on your must-see list?
  • Visiting the trade show. What should I expect from vendors? I’m bracing myself for a bit of cultural shock on two fronts. Scriptorium won’t have a booth at this event, so I won’t have my usual booth duties. Also, I’ve heard booths are a bit more elaborate at tcworld than many of the events I attend in the US.
  • Networking. I’m attending the International Networking Dinner on Wednesday, where I’m sure I’ll meet many, many people. Any other networking suggestions?
  • What to wear. Any article of clothing you wished you had brought (or left at home)? I’ve seen photos of past tcworld events, and it looks like tcworld attendees dress a notch more professionally than those at US-based tech comm events, where I see more casual attire. Is my assessment accurate?
  • Food, food, food. If you follow Scriptorium’s blog or my Twitter feed, you probably know I like to eat (and I’m partial to good pastries and chocolate). What culinary adventures do you recommend in the Wiesbaden area?
  • General travel advice. I’ve been to Europe before for business and vacation, but this will be my first visit to Germany. Any travel tips? (My years of studying Latin have helped me somewhat with Romance languages, but they won’t be so helpful with German!)

I look forward to meeting you next week—especially those I’ve known for years through blog interactions, Twitter, and webcast events but have never met in person. Also, I’ll be helping Sarah out during The Game of Content Strategy presentation, which runs on Wednesday and Thursday. Hope to see you there!

P.S. If you’d like to schedule a meeting with Sarah or me during the conference, send us a message through our contact form.

About the Author

Alan Pringle


Content strategy consulting. Publishing (electronic and print). Eating (preferably pastries and chocolate). COO at Scriptorium.

16 Comments on “Help this first-time tcworld attendee, please!”

  1. Be prepared to walk, a lot. Also, be prepared to shake hands with every German you meet.

    The Germans like the sports jacket-lurid tie-dress trousers combo.

    German food is good, if a little meat-heavy. Good side salads and soups. Excellent breads. Breakfast tends to be bread, cold meats and cheese. Look out for Spätzle (cheese noodles), Currywurst, Bretzeln (pretzels), Buttermilch and Molke, Ritter Sport chocolate and Leberkässemmel (a type of meat sandwich).

    The Flachspüler in the bathroom might be a bit of a shock (I’ll leave you to look that up).

    1. Good stuff here, Ellis. Thanks.

      Walking is no problem for me. It’s among my primary modes of exercise.

      Like Jennifer, I had to look up Flachspüler. One of the first hits was titled “Terrifying German Toilets.” Of course I had to read more…

  2. Why did I Google Flachspüler, Ellis? Why couldn’t I just have lived my life not knowing about it???

    I’m excited to keep an eye on replies to this post as I’ll be at tekom for the first time as well. My take-away from Ellis’s reply (aside from the horrific toilet) is that comfortable shoes are a must…and to eat light when you can!

  3. Haven’t tried it for German, but iHandy Translator works great for French and Turkish. There’s a free version you can use to check out the quality before you plunk down actual cash for the Pro version.

  4. You do not have to be afraid of the Flachspüler as there are still many Tiefspüler left as well… (this is the look on germany from the UK? All about Flachspüler? I had to google that one myself…)
    Contrary to certain rumours you should be able to also find vegan and vegetarian food (as well as chocolate) and you will not be forced to drink beer before noon.
    As you might know, there is still a U.S. Army Garrison in Wiesbaden and thus the cultural shock should not be too great.
    And for the dress code: if you are planning to meet with collegues from the uk, perhaps you should also bring a tweed jacket and a bowler hat 😉

    1. Let’s say, if you’re expecting things to disappear and they don’t, it’s a bit of a surprise.
      The most common impression of Germany, for the British, is how clean and organised it is.
      As for my dress code: Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone 🙂

      1. I hope you can convince Emma Peel to escort you 😉 And for the cleanliness – you haven´t been to Berlin lately, have you? …
        As long as we aren´t expected to wear Lederhosen, everything is fine.

    2. Axel,

      I did wonder if the garrison’s presence meant that the Wiesbaden area was more accustomed to dealing with US English speakers, but I didn’t want to assume too much, either. Thanks for confirming.

      As for the tweed jacket and bowler hat, you should know I do NOT check luggage, and my carry-on will be too full for the jacket and hat (and the lurid ties).

  5. Funny discussion about Flachspüler! But be relaxed. Almost all toilettes in Germany are Tiefspüler.
    Regarding your other questions:
    Sessions – depens on what you are interested in. I always take the confrence program and mark all sessions which I am interested in. For me most important are mobile, standards, laws, (structured) applications.
    Trade show – I cannot compare it to trade shows in the US. Yes, some booths are really big. And some have very good coffee (e.g. STAR).
    Networking – probably you get to know other tcworld participants in your hotel. Then there is also the Get together party on Wednesday and the Good by party on Thursday. Apart from that I find it easy to get in contact with others at the coffee/tea tables, at lunch or after presentations. There are also two guided city tours in English.
    What to wear – my impression is that people from the trade show are dressed formally whereas most visitors are dressed casually.
    Food – there are some typical restaurants in the historic center where you might find many other tcworld participants. Wiesbaden is a rather wealthy city. Therefore there are also many expensive shops with a variety of special chocolate (more in the East of the historic center).
    Travel – most people in Wiesbaden and around the conference will speak English. Go by foot. Everything is very near. Stroll through the historic center. Find one of the world’s largest cuckoo clocks. Go to the Kochbrunnen (a well with hot water smelling of sulfur). This will be the last conference in Wiesbaden. I will miss it.

  6. American tailoring stands out like a sore thumb in Europe. I’ve no idea why. Dressing just enough like a European to be mistaken for local is way more fun, and very easy to do. It’s really quite difficult to find a German who is unwilling or unable to speak English remarkably well, often with a faint American intonation, so relax. One caveat: Before you take offense or laugh, be aware that Germans often don’t quite get the significance of certain ‘off colour’ words or phrases. Ellis is quite right about the cleanliness and organisation thing. I’d add fitter, more correct, more polite, way more direct (a German is expected to have an opinion), but friendlier than your average Brit. I hope & believe you’ll look back on your time in Germany as both a privilege and a pleasure, just as I do.

    1. So, how does one dress “just enough like a European”? Inquiring minds want to know.

      And for what it’s worth, when I visited Stockholm several years ago, I was often mistaken for a Swede. Guess my height and coloring suggested I was from the area.

  7. Hi, Alan, glad you get a chance to join us for tekom! I look forward to meeting you in Wiesbaden.

    Here are my additional two cents:
    – When it comes to picking sessions, tekom leaves you with the usual quandary of favoring speakers or topic. That said, many speakers at English sessions are non-natives, so you get more interesting, more diverse failures. If language proficiency or sales get in the way of a good presentation, I do not hesitate to leave after a few minutes for greener pastures.
    – I find I use many more business cards than at either STC or TCUK, and not just because tekom is larger.
    – tekom can be exhaustingly large, compared to the other conferences. Don’t feel you have to see everything in one day. There are around 200 exhibitors in the tradeshow, ranging from tool vendors to language service providers, so I usually browse many, but engage with few.
    – My favorite networking is the free beer get-together on Wednesday, 6 to 8 pm in the foyer on the first floor.
    – Because tekom is so large and there’s no one conference hotel, networking is more fragmented and happens either over coffee or lunch or in smaller groups in the evenings.

    I give a confirming “+1” to previous advice on:
    – Handshakes – yes, we Germans love them, and we don’t care that it’s fall and the flu season is upon us.
    – There’s coffee and tea in the trade show areas which is fine, but the coffee – or occasional cocktails – served by tradeshow booths are frequently much better!
    – And if this late reply isn’t proof enough, I can also confirm that, yes, a German is expected to have an opinion… 🙂

    For a good 3-minute impression of tekom, check out this video:

    Safe travels, see you next week!

  8. Pingback: How German is #tekom and #tcworld? | Kai's Tech Writing Blog

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