Announcing the Dates and Location for BlogHer '09, our 5th Anniversary Conference!
Today we are pleased and proud to announce the theme, dates and location for BlogHer '09, our fifth annual conference.
The theme for BlogHer '09 is "In Real Life". One of the number one reasons we all attend BlogHer every year, whether coming for the first time or as an old-timer, is to meet our online community "in real life". So after five years we think it's a great time to celebrate the fact that our blogging, whether personal, professional or political, has brought us real work, real friends, real satisfaction and is most definitely a significant part of our real life!
Now, I'm guessing you're really waiting for this part: Where in the world is BlogHer '09?
After an extended period of polling, research, investigation, and comparing the pros and cons of venues from the perspective of our attendees, our sponsors and BlogHer itself, we are bringing BlogHer '09 to...[drum roll please]: Chicago, IL!!
Yes, BlogHer '09 will be at the The Chicago Sheraton and Towers from July 23-25, 2009. We will kick off on Thursday July 23rd with our 3rd annual BlogHer Business Conference, and will continue with the two-day 5th annual BlogHer Annual Conference on Friday and Saturday, July 24-25.
Some of you who have been following along may have just done a coffee spit-take all over your monitor, because Chicago was not one of the final three cities that polled the highest earliest this year. So, first let me tell you a bit about our 2009 venue:
The Chicago Sheraton and Towers is right in the center of all the wonderful downtown Chicago sights and attractions. It's right on the river and but a block from Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile. It's also less than a mile from the Navy Pier, the Art Institute of Chicago, and even American Girl Place! Chicago is one of America's great cities, and you might consider combining your BlogHer trip with a longer vacation...whether with your BlogHer friends or with other friends and/or family.
But these are but secondary reasons compared to the primary appeal of this terrific venue: It is big enough for us once again to house the entire conference, including our attendees, under one roof. If there is one piece of feedback we heard consistently after BlogHer '07 in Chicago and BlogHer '08 in San Francisco it's that our attendees loved Chicago, but they didn't love having such a long trek between the meeting space and their hotel rooms. I don't know how many times we all heard during and after BlogHer '08 in San Francisco that it was so much better to have everything under one roof. It became our #1 criteria when searching for a venue: It had to be big enough to accommodate our continued growth...growth in number of attendees, growth in number of sponsors, growth in number of programming tracks and meeting rooms to house them.
Our second criteria was accessibility and affordability...again for everyone involved, including BlogHer. The Chicago Sheraton will match our 2007 and 2008 room rate of $199, and we once again got comped in-room Internet for all BlogHer attendees (a savings of $12.95/day). Moreover as we took a look at airfares, we were reminded that Chicago is a top hub city right in the middle of the country. Even as airfares continue to rise, it is possible to find affordable, non-stop flights to Chicago from just about every part of the US and Canada. The Hotel also happily worked with us to find ways to help us and our sponsors save money too...and that will allow us to keep registration prices exactly the same as last year's registration pricing too.
Finally, there's a whole lot of other stuff that is a bit behind-the-scenes, but is going to make this the best conference yet. The Chicago Sheraton and Towers is simply made for a conference as big as ours has gotten. The facilities, and the flexibility of those facilities, are beyond compare. We can't wait to make the most exciting use of what this venue has to offer.
We hadn't originally planned to re-visit a city we'd been to before, which is why I didn't include Chicago on our city poll at all (mea culpa). But as we investigated the three top cities from the poll, we found that one city didn't have a single facility big enough for us (Portland); one city had only one facility big enough that was available during either of the last two weekends in July...and it was way more expensive than we expected, and management displayed little willingness to negotiate (Philly), and the final city actually wasn't that easy to get to and had more limited facilities for lots of tracks and lots of unique sponsor activities (St. Louis).
We fully expected we would produce BlogHer '09 at one of those three cities, but after spending lots of time investigating all three (and let me just say it was Kristy spending the vast majority of that time!) and compiling a grid that compared about 40 different criteria, we admitted we didn't have the perfect solution in any of them.
We went back to the drawing board and opened our mind to revisiting Chicago, and the rest is (and most definitely will be) history. We hope you will be as excited as we are to come back to Chicago, this time without a half-mile trek between hotel and meeting space!
Stay tuned for a post from Kristy that will announce that conference registration is open, and that will provide all the details on how to reserve your hotel room.
In the meantime, here is your html code to declare your intention to join us for the 5th annual BlogHer Conference, BlogHer '09, July 23-25 in Chicago, IL.
<a href="http://www.blogher09.eventbrite.com/"><img src="http://www.blogher.com/files/BH09-going.gif" alt="I'm Going to BlogHer '09"></a>
<a href="http://www.blogher09.eventbrite.com/"><img src="http://www.blogher.com/files/BH09-150.gif" alt="BlogHer '09 In Real Life"></a>
We hope that now that you know when and where BlogHer '09 will be you will mark your calendars. We also hope those ideas keep pouring in, in response to our Call for Ideas. Thank you all for your patience as we worked on site selection, and we hope you're as excited as we are to hit Chicago for the fifth anniversary BlogHer Conference!
for Jory, Elisa and Lisa