"Texas, Our Texas! all hail the mighty State! Texas, Our Texas! so wonderful so great!"
This is the beginning of the state song. I never knew this but I certainly know it now! My visit in Houston was simply amazing.
There are two major airports in Houston. One used to be called "Bush Field" which they now refer to as "Houston Intercontinental" (IAH) and the other is called "Hobby" (HOU). Either airport will work since they are nearly the same distance away from where WPC will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center. I purposefully flew in at one airport and out of the other to be able to provide this blog post. Note that Microsoft has worked with Delta and American Airlines to provide discounted pricing. Get the info here.
Sticking with transportation, I took a $100 cab ride from HOU to my hotel which is on the list of hotels for the WPC called the Aloft. Let’s break this down for everyone so that we’re all aware and prepared. $100 cab ride is CHEAP for three people right? Not so much for one guy! First of all the $100 cab ride was the equivalent of a town car ride as far as politeness, comfort and ride quality. This was NO cab ride like I’ve had in large cities elsewhere in the U.S. nor in the world. This was a great cab ride. But just be aware that any of the hotels in the Galleria area are going to be that much dough.
HOTEL: I didn’t know what to expect upon arriving to my hotel but I was made comfortable in a "Southern way, Y’all". The doorman grabbed my bag and greeted me while I stared into the lobby where a group of people were shooting pool, sipping on drinks and collecting around the bar. As the doorman escorted me to a "True Texan Gal" as she referred to herself I couldn’t take my eyes off her smile. She had the biggest smile that a smile could ever smile. What’s more she started out with "How y’all doin’ today?"… She had me at "smile".
Once you get to your hotel you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the ease of getting around in Houston during WPC. There are buses that go to all of the hotels on the list of Official WPC 2013 hotels and they run to and from the conference center as well as the side meetings and evening hub events. This means you won’t need to spend a wad of cash on taxis!
On the topic of taxis, there is a $6 rule applying to all of us attending WPC13 in a specific area. See the Getting There page for more information.
TAXI: Anywhere in the Downtown District (bounded by I-45, I-10 and U.S. 59) you can get a taxi for just $6. CASH ONLY! So if you are staying at Hotel Icon you can get a $6 cab to the GRBCC or take the free shuttle bus. I’d recommend the bus to and from the GRBCC because there aren’t a lot of cabs right outside of the center and you might have to wait awhile unless you call ahead. Another nice option that you can take advantage of is the GreenLink! If you’re up for it, there is a green way to cruise around Houston and the buses are only 7 minutes apart. Check out this page - you get the bus route that goes around the surrounding area and picks up and drops off at the GRBCC. It does NOT go to any of the supported hotels. This would be a great option for popping around downtown without paying a cab fare. You can find local cab companies here.
BIKE: What’s better than Houston in July on a bicycle? If you are adventurous you can get a bike rental within the area. It is cheap, cheap from $5 a day or $15 for the week. You just swipe your credit card and you’re in biz. Here is a link to the brochure from Houston B-cycle which has some great options. First 90 minutes are free and then you pay by the half hour after that.
PRIVATE CAR: This I wish I knew about prior to arriving in Houston. There is a company named GroundLink and they have apps and a website where you can reserve a town car, limo, shuttle bus, luxury town car and more. You just go to the site, register for a car and they come get you when you are ready. Awesome! Pricing is located here and looks quite affordable considering you can fit 3 people in a town car and share the $74 cost which includes the tip!
In summary, prepare for your arrival and departure. Both airports are great however the HOU airport was quite a bit more modern than the IAH airport. IAH didn’t even have any club rooms open the day that I was there. HOU was sprinkled with things to do. Houston people are great!
You’re going to have a great time at WPC in Houston. Feel free to look me up on WPC Connect or on our blogs, tweets and tweet up sessions especially if this is your FIRST WPC. You might consider shadowing somebody your first year and I’d be happy to do what I can to get you an IAMCP member to shadow.
@ryantechkevin, @mscloudservices, @ryantechinc