Back in March 2020, right before the panny hit, I attended my first ever Alt Summit in Palm Springs! Alt Summit is a conference for creative entrepreneurs, spanning over a few days and chock full of talks, panels, workshops, and networking.
Alt Summit was originally named Altitude Design Summit when it started 11 years ago, and back then it was focused on design bloggers. As the industry and landscape changed, so did the content and attendees.
Now, Alt brings together attendees and speakers from so many different verticals. Yes, I met a ton of bloggers there, but I also met photographers, artists, designers, writers, life coaches, event planners, and so many product-focused small business owners.
I’ve been eyeing Alt for years and had been wanting to go for a while, but two main things were standing in my way. First, I didn’t want to take a week of PTO while I was at Google (had to save those for all my travels!) and secondly, the price tag.
The current price for an individual Alt Summit ticket is $699, and this will continue to go up incrementally until it reaches the full price of $1,099 as we get closer to next year’s event in March.
Add in hotel costs (I paid ~$900 for my hotel stay at The Riviera this year), airfare, and food while you’re there (because the conference food is hit or miss, but we’ll get into that later!), and you’re looking at dropping least $2,500.
Back when I was still at Google I decided I would apply to be a speaker at Alt Summit in the hopes of attending once I’d left my corporate gig. That way I wouldn’t have to pay for a ticket (still had to pay for travel and accommodations though—the conference doesn’t cover that for speakers) or worry about taking PTO!
And that’s exactly what I did.
I was so excited that my solo talk was accepted! My talk was all about how I was able to grow my blog into my full-time business, with specific tips on growth, strategy, and negotiating with brands.
You can find a recording and my slides here if you’re interested!
So let’s get into the deets. Here’s my honest review on Alt Summit and my personal experience!
Alt Summit Review
To me, the content is the most important part of a conference like this. I’ve been to blogger conferences in the past with really fluffy content and those just don’t do it for me.
I want tangible tips and strategies that I can take away and implement, and that’s exactly the kind of content you’ll find at Alt. They do a really good job of mixing inspirational keynotes and fireside chat-style discussions with workshops and talks on specific tools and strategies.
The roundtables were especially useful. During these sessions, the main ballroom was filled with like 25 different tables that seat around 10 people, and each table had an expert speaking and answering questions on a specific topic.
Some of the roundtables I attended included a lawyer who talked about influencer contracts, a travel photographer who shared how she gets commissioned for projects and gets her work in magazines, bloggers who were specifically sharing tips and feedback on pricing and negotiations, and an entrepreneur who shared time management hacks for streamlining and automating her workflows.
I walked away from these roundtable conversations with so many notes and ideas, and it was incredibly valuable to sit down with them and ask questions.
I’d usually have to pay $250 an hour to pick a lawyer’s brain, so getting to ask a lawyer who specializes in influencer contracts questions was super valuable.
TBH, I was expecting to be able to network with more brands at Alt. There were a few brands with booths and fun installations, and it was great to be able to connect with them.
There were also some sponsor dinners, but those are invite-only and usually 25 – 100 people capacity. Based on what I heard from other attendees who had done Alt before, I think there were fewer sponsors/sponsor dinners than in previous years.
I was invited to and attended one dinner with Adobe, and it was great. But I definitely wished I was able to meet with more brands.
I think this is one area where Create Cultivate really shines—they have so many brand sponsors at their events you could literally spend the whole day meeting with brands. But Create Cultivate’s content is very different than Alt’s (CC is much more aspirational and big-name celebs, but not a lot of tangible takeaways), so they each shine in different ways.
There are so many opportunities for networking at Alt. Everyone is there to learn and to meet new people, so attendees are all really friendly and it’s easy to strike up a conversation with people.
I attended Alt 100% by myself and didn’t know of any friends attending (although I did end up running into a few blogger friends once I got there), and I was honestly a little nervous about attending all by myself! But it was not bad at all and I was able to meet people on the shuttles, sitting next to attendees at talks, and of course at some of the events.
Instead of your typical swag bag, Alt has a gifting suite with dozens of tables of small businesses set up in the grand ballroom. You get to pick out 10 items total from the many different businesses there giving away swag.
There were candle companies, jewelry, makeup, journals, stationery…It was a lot.
And while in theory, I like the concept of getting to choose your own swag so you end up leaving the conference with things you actually want, it was kind of a hot mess.
The line to get into the ballroom was huge and took about 40 minutes to get through—that’s a long time to be standing in heels at the end of a long conference day.
And then once you got into the ballroom it was pretty chaotic. Everyone is crowding around the different tables trying to see what free swag brands are giving away and decide which ones they want to take.
With everyone pushing by and grabbing free stuff it just felt…honestly a little gross.
When I used to plan events for Google my four food rules were: It has to be good, we can’t run out, people can’t stand in line for more than 10 minutes, and there has to be protein.
The food at Alt, as with so many conferences, was hit or miss. Each hotel served a different lunch, and some venue’s food options were noticeably better than others.
The Saguaro had consistently the best food. On the first day of the conference, every venue did boxed sandwiches, which is definitely not my fav but works just fine.
On Tuesday I ate at The Saguaro and they had a great taco bar situation—it was perfect! Plenty of protein, and just really good.
But on Wednesday I ate at The Riviera, where I was hanging out all day for a bunch of talks I didn’t want to miss, and then I had my own talk in the afternoon. The lunch they were serving was…salad. Womp, womp.
But I was like you know what, it’s fine, I’m sure they’ll have protein and I don’t have time to get to any of the other venues in between talks. But there was a huge line that took 35 minutes to get through, and by the time I got to the food, there was one scoop of chicken left.
I felt like a jerk taking the last of the chicken, but I had my talk coming up later that afternoon and was not about to faint up on stage. The hotel staff confirmed there was no more chicken left, and there was still a large line behind me so a lot of people had a salad with no protein for lunch, which sucks when you’re tired and hungry at a conference.
It sounded like the free shuttles at the conference the year before weren’t super well managed and the Alt team really listened to attendees’ feedback, because I found the shuttles to be pretty great.
They drive on a loop to the three different venues, and I never had to wait more than 10 – 15 minutes for a shuttle. Plus, the price is right (free!)!
The conference was held at three different hotel venues—The Riviera, The Saguaro, and The Ace.
Even with the shuttles, having the different venues about a 15-minute drive apart is a bit of a challenge. I never even made it over to The Ace, which is where a lot of the DIY arts and crafts stuff was.
It sounded really fun but I just didn’t have time to get over there in between all the talks at The Riviera and The Saguaro. The Riviera was where the main ballroom for keynotes was, as well as a ton of breakout sessions. And The Saguaro had more talks, as well as sponsor booths.
I stayed at The Riviera and would definitely recommend that hotel for the conference, if the main sessions are taking place there again. It ended up being super convenient as the main keynotes and a lot of the other sessions I wanted to see were there.
I only went over to the Saguaro for a few sessions. And I’ve heard terrible things about staying at The Saguaro from multiple people, so I wouldn’t recommend staying there.
What to pack for Alt Summit
Protein bars – The conference doesn’t really serve breakfast—I think a brand might have sponsored donuts one morning but that was about it. So having some protein bars will come in clutch.
Travel espresso maker – I don’t travel without this thing! Most hotel rooms have those crappy plastic coffee makers, and those just don’t do it for me. The conference did serve coffee (thank goodness), but one morning I slept in a little and knew the coffee would be gone for the morning, so I was able to make myself a shot in the morning.
Reusable water bottle – I always prefer bringing my own reusable water bottle, especially at conferences where there’s usually a place to refill them. I like a foldable one because then when I’m not using it I can condense it and it takes up less space in my bag.
Hand sanitizer – A must at any conference, but especially in a post-panny world.
Business cards – Bring lots so you don’t run out!
Things to know before you go to Alt Summit
Download the app ahead of time and start marking which sessions you’re interested in so you can make the most of your time and plan out your schedule.
I’d also recommend starting to connect with and network with attendees through the app before the conference even starts.
*Here’s a pro tip if you’re a speaker. Connect with every person on the app who has bookmarked/indicated interest in your talk. Make your talk’s slides available (in exchange for an email address—I used Flodesk for this). Then a day after the conference, message every single person you’ve connected with on the app and let them know if they missed your talk, they can grab the slides at this link. I even recorded my talk with a tripod + my iPhone and made that recording available as well.
The schedule is so jam-packed, and a lot of times there are multiple sessions going on at once that you really want to attend. I got a really good response from doing this and collected about 100 new emails in the process!
Be sure to join the Alt Summit Facebook group ahead of time as well and start showing your face there to network with other attendees.
Extend your trip:
You won’t have much down time for pool time and relaxation, because the conference is pretty jam-packed. So I recommend extending your trip and staying with friends through the weekend in Palm Springs.
So, to answer your question, is Alt Summit worth it? I would say if it fits in your budget and you’re really going to make the most of soaking up as many sessions as possible, and lean into the networking, I do think it’s worth it.
If you can get your ticket comped by being a speaker, even better.
That’s it for my Alt Summit review! Will you be there next year?