Updated for Dreamforce 2016
Yes, even though it is non-stop there are times you must sleep during Dreamforce! If anything for your own sanity and to keep up with all the amazing things you’ll experience. Additionally you’ll want a place to drop off your swag, stash your clothes and take a shower. Honestly this is easily your biggest expense getting to Dreamforce (short of airfare depending on where you’re traveling from).
Here’s some tips on how to save on lodging during Dreamforce:
- Check for rates through your company travel program, if available. You can lock in rates now if they are acceptable to you.
- Alternatively, if you’re a member of a rewards program, look at your associated company’s offerings. You may be able to apply your points to your stay or consider staying somewhere to maximize points for status and future travel. I have come away from Dreamforce with enough points to cover vacation travel for my family before. Whatever you do, do the math. There are lots of trade-offs to this approach.
- Utilize various websites such as Orbitz, Priceline, etc to find rates that may be acceptable.
- Dreamforce reserves rooms called a room block at various hotels in the area. With the room blocks, there are usually discounted rates available only through the Dreamforce site after you have registered to attend. Finding lodging via the Dreamforce registration site can include various additional perks such as free Wi-Fi access at that location rather than being charged. In the Dreamforce registration site there is a list of hotels, distance from Moscone, prices, and options available to choose from. Unless you are very lucky, my experience has been this is the opportunity for best rates.
- Did you not register for a hotel when you registered for Dreamforce? Log back in and you can see what is available. Rooms can open up closer or in the block, but do NOT count on it.
- Nothing available for the dates you pick? Change the dates around. Check arriving earlier or leaving later or both. Sometimes doing this will give you results you didn’t get otherwise. It’s not Dreamforce, but the hotel industry.
- If you end up reserving a hotel that has a room block, but it was sold out on the registration site, contact the hotel and politely mention you are attending Dreamforce as well and want to see if they would match the block rate for your room. Costs nothing to ask and may save you some money. Don’t expect them to say yes, but you don’t know if you don’t ask! I do know people whom have been successful with their requests and some who have not. Try before you arrive and at the front desk when you check in if not successful over the phone.
- Do you know anyone who lives in the area? Friends, family? Explore the option of asking to crash at their place.
- AirBnB and other similar options- typically I’d say go for it, many people do and have success. Just make sure you have all your documentation and have read through it all.
- Roommates! Even an expensive option can be more budget friendly with friends. Coworkers, user group friends, Success community friends- lots of options are out there to meet people to share space with. Check with the space to make sure you’re within their requirements (maximum # in room, etc). When you reserve, if you don’t have a roommate yet but open to the option, get a room with two beds as you may meet someone before Dreamforce to share with! There are always people looking for space. Be smart but it can mean an opportunity for you to reduce your cost.
- Idea- you have 2 beds, someone is looking for a room. They’re a stranger, but you know someone who can give up their room to the stranger so you and your non-stranger friend could share your room. Just be VERY careful juggling reservations with the hotels.
- New this year- Perch a service to help you find a roommate. They are a new service and while I am not advocating using them at this time, it is a possible option. If you’re interested, contact them via their website.
- Rental agencies – there are many options to consider through a traditional rental agency. I know many small companies who have saved on costs by renting a house instead of everyone staying in a hotel. A company, a group of friends- doesn’t matter who. If staying with friends, be sure to agree up front on costs, payment, and determining who gets what sleeping place to avoid issues later.
- Youth Hostels – this is an extremely affordable option used by many visitors to San Francisco. There is one actually next to one of my favorite places to eat on Mason. Prices vary depending on choices but short of staying for free I’ve not heard of anywhere cheaper. It is a great solution if you need to save money and just want a place to stash your clothes, take a shower, and get some sleep.
- Note- there is no Dreamboat this year. It may return in the future.
Those are some tips to staying in San Francisco. There’s lots of things to consider while considering your options above as well. Some of those include:
- Distance from Moscone and Dreamforce Campus locations (not everything is in Moscone)
- Transportation options (is it on a MUNI line? A Dreamforce shuttle line? Could I bike there?)
- Your comfort level. Read up on locations in San Francisco- if you’re not a city person there may be some areas you will not feel comfortable in for various reasons.
- Are you planning to attend late night functions/parties/etc? This could impact your transportation options in some cases or you may not want to have an hour plus commute.
- Hotel benefits- free breakfast, free wifi, airport shuttles- all of these and more can make a difference in deciding where to stay,
- Hotel differences- shared bathrooms with other guests, twin size beds, small rooms- if it is cheap, there’s usually a reason. Not all hotels are the same of course so if you’re interested in one, research it or don’t be surprised you’re sharing a bathroom.
All told, if at all possible, I recommend staying somewhere near Moscone if your budget allows, at one of the official Dreamforce hotels as there will be shuttles available to get around at least to those locations. Within a short distance of Moscone there is usually the option of pedicabs as well.
The one thing I do not suggest, is to expect to wing it and find a room at the last minute or when you get there. Alas, sleeping at Moscone is not an option.