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Kicking Off ZINCON 2016

Posted on August 4, 2016 by under Events, Travel, Zumba.    

I recently returned from attending my third #ZINCON. (I’m not counting the Zumba Instructor Conference in 2014 because they didn’t have special hotel room keycards for the event. LOL.)

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Somehow the collector’s edition room keys make the annual convention that much more memorable. Although, the LA conference in 2014 was the very last one so that in itself is pretty special.

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We were on the same flight out as Pat and Stephanie which made the trip to Orlando go by a lot quicker. I also managed to talk Brian into shorter layovers on our connecting flights so that helped quite a bit as well. Although were on the same flight out, Pat and Stephanie flew back to Wichita on Sunday. Brian and I opted to stay an extra night (more on this later) and came home on Monday so the four of us didn’t get to travel back home together.

Our flights were pretty smooth and uneventful, unlike Andrea’s whose flight ended up getting canceled. She was supposed to arrive in Orlando by 7 PM and didn’t end up arriving until midnight. On the bright side, at least she arrived the day before and didn’t have to miss part of day one.

Brian and I were glad that we arrived by noon on Wednesday. Even though the hotel was already buzzing with ZINCON attendees, the lines weren’t too bad. I remember the long lines at the hotel check-in desk during my first ZINCON. It wasn’t unusual to have to wait almost two hours just to get checked in.

Lucky for us, I’d amassed a bunch of points by staying at Hyatt Place in Topeka over the last few months. Brian and I wanted to have enough rewards points that we wouldn’t have to wait in the long line when we arrived at ZINCON. You’d think that Brian was thrilled when my project was put “on hold” since I no longer had to be out of town so much but he was actually kind of bummed for two reasons: that meant he could no longer play video games all night and I wasn’t earning Hyatt rewards points to get us special treatment on our trip.

We checked my rewards status a few weeks before our trip and saw I had enough stays to make Platinum but not enough to make Diamond level. “Oh, well. At least we still get to skip the long line,” I told myself.

Fast forward to check in. Brian and I were actually a little bit cranky when we arrived at the hotel because our driver wasn’t waiting for us at baggage claim as we were accustomed to… When I called SuperShuttle to check on our Execucar, they were like “You didn’t give us the airline information so we didn’t know your arrival time.” I thought Brian messed up but he was quick to pull up his records and show me that he did, in fact, provide them our flight number. Somehow the airline and flight information didn’t carry over into their dispatching system so we didn’t have a specific driver assigned to us. When I called dispatch, they told me to go outside to the shuttle loading area and our ride would be there in 20 minutes. Anyway, a shared-ride van shows up and we were like, “Where’s our Execucar?!” The whole thing was all sorts of jacked up. We had a 12-passenger van all to ourselves, which seemed really silly to me. There’s only two of us. Why in the heck would we reserve a huge ass van? As absurd as the whole van situation was, I was more annoyed that we had to wait for the van to show up outside in the heat instead of our driver being ready and waiting for us at baggage claim as they have in the past.

But I digress… Brian and I kind of had the “What else could go wrong today?” mindset at check in because a few days prior we had received an email from the Hyatt Regency stating that they were oversold on Wednesday night. They were offering to put people up at the Double Tree down the street and pay for the stay and shuttle people to the hotel the next day. I think I was actually more nonchalant about it than Brian. He was super worried. Being the optimist that I am, I told him that (a) I felt sure there were other people who would take up the free night offer, (b) they’d probably kick out people who were not loyal Hyatt rewards members first before kicking a valued customer such as me to the curb, and (c) we’re arriving early enough that we should be pretty safe. Although, seeing everyone’s hotel arrival posts on Facebook did make me worry a bit because I knew that there were a steady stream of arrivals leading up to Wednesday.

So there we were in front of the concierge desk. We were tired, cranky, and apprehensive. The check in line was already quite long but not nearly as long as we’d seen it before. We definitely arrived at the right time. Wanting to take advantage of our newly earned elite status, we stood in front of the check in lanes under the “Diamond/Platinum” sign.

“I can help who’s next,” the lady at the front desk says. Brian and I step up. “Ma’am, you have to wait in line,” she tells us scoldingly while pointing to the end of the longish line. “But I’m Diamond,” I tell her indignantly like a petulant child. “In that case, I can help you,” she says completely changing her tone. I asked her if she needed my rewards number and she said she was able to look me up just fine. She told me that I’m actually Platinum in a way that made Platinum sound far more superior than Diamond level. Anyway, having been up since about 3 AM (because Brian wanted to be at the airport two hours before our flight — don’t ask, this is a constant point of contention for us), I also got confused and thought how cool it was that we made Platinum just in time for ZINCON. Brian and I actually knew I made Platinum several weeks prior but were trying to make it to Diamond. Somehow I had gotten it backwards in my mind and so did the front desk girl. She ended up giving us an upgraded room and all of the Diamond level privileges including a special amenity where we got to choose from several different beverage and food options delivered to our room on a specific day and time of our choosing.

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I didn’t really care for the beverage options so Brian chose a couple of bottles of Bud Light and we both agreed on the fruit, cheese, and nuts plate.

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The fruit and cheese plate was a great choice. It was delicious.

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Other privileges included access to the Regency Club Lounge which offers complimentary breakfast each morning, light snacks throughout the day, hors d’oeuvres from 5 to 8 PM, and desserts every night. We bought a big jug of water and a ton of groceries to sustain us during our stay. Had we known we were getting free food, bottles of water, and other beverages we would have not gotten so much at the store. I’m actually glad that we didn’t buy any fruit at the store because we got fresh fruit everyday at breakfast.

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Here’s a picture of Brian enjoying the complimentary munchies.

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Here are a few pictures of the amazing view from our room on the 26th floor.

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We had a great view of the pool area as well.

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The our corner room was exactly identical to our room back in 2013, only several floors higher which in turn made for a better view. And, since it’s all the way up above everything else, we didn’t have to shut our curtains as we did before when were on the fifth floor. We didn’t have to worry about people seeing inside our room. It was really nice. I loved falling asleep to the twinkling lights of the Orlando skyline. Andrea, Brian, and I even enjoyed watching fireworks in the distance one night when Andrea came to hang out after the fitness concert.

After settling into our fabulous room and unpacking our bags and packing our fridge and pantry, we went to get me checked in at the registration desk to get my official name tag, commemorative shirt, and convention freebies.

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I ran into my kababayan Lei Valle on my way to registration. He was getting his ACE/AFAA certifications during pre-cons.

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We also ran into this lovely lady and she encouraged me to take a photo with her giant poster.

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This one.

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This is the typical scene in front of the “We Move the World” stage in between sessions. But this isn’t even anything compared to the crowd at the fitness concert.

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Brian and I took advantage of my free time on Wednesday night to do some shopping at the Zumba Wear store. We met these two lovely ladies. They were hilarious. They changed their minds about various items in their hands a dozen times between when we first got in line up until it was time to check out.

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I’m super grateful for Doris (left) because she told me about the official ZIN bracelet which I wanted but couldn’t find. I guess she had it in her pile of stuff and changed her mind so she put it in one of the bins. When she heard me and Brian talk about the bracelet she told me I could have hers. She even went back to the bin she dropped the box off at and got it and gave it to me so then I didn’t have to step out of the super long line to go hunt for it. I thought that was a super nice thing to do for a complete stranger.

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Trust me, you do not want to step out of the line. It probably took an hour or so. The line to check out was even longer than the line to get in the store and the line to get in the store was super long. After Brian and I saw the line, we decided that Brian probably should have stood and held my place in line while I shopped. That’s the plan for next year so we can be more efficient.

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Here’s an obligatory room selfie just because.

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This is the scene at kick off. We got a really great spot toward the front, next to the ZCOM section and just behind the ten-year ZINs, thanks to my friend Charrise.

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Zumba Home Office had the best intentions but just couldn’t enforce the no bags and selfie sticks rule. My group and I followed the rules but I saw lots of bags and selfie sticks. I didn’t want to chance it though because I always seem to be the one to get caught even when everyone else is breaking the rules. I’m like the little red coupe that gets busted for speeding the one time that I do speed. And I’m thinking, “But I was just going with the flow of traffic!”

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Zumba gave us a bonus gift this year of the ultimate ZINCON experience through PixMob wristbands.

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Here’s an example to give you an idea. You’ll also see it in the Magic Moments video at the bottom.

Anyway, this post is super duper long already so I’m going to have to cut it off here. Before I go, here are some key notes from kick off:

  • Everyone at ZINCON also got a bonus gift of our very own copy of ZIN Volume 1. Of course, many of the ten-year ZINs probably have every single ZIN Volume ever created already so now they each have a second copy.
  • Zumba is launching a new app that will replace ZIN DJ (which explains why they haven’t invested in fixing any of the bugs). The new app will combine ZIN Now features with ZIN DJ features and then some. It’s going to be like ZIN DJ on crack. I can’t wait until it’s available for download so I can finally scrap ZIN DJ. Until then I guess we’re stuck with the issues.
  • Zumba is launching an official mentoring platform. They know that we mentor students and help them become fellow instructors so they’re providing tools and resources to help us help another and flourish.
  • Timbaland will be making music for STRONG by Zumba. That’s how we roll.
  • The BabyFirst network will have a Zumbini TV show, which will help drive babies and moms to Zumbini classes.

For the rest of the Zumba Instructor Convention highlights, here are the Magic Moments of ZINCON 2016…

Related Posts

  • ZINCON 2014: Highlights on August 24, 2014
  • ZINCON 2014: First Impressions on August 20, 2014
  • Hyatt Regency Orlando on October 19, 2016
  • Day 4 of ZINCON 2016 on August 11, 2016
  • Day 2 of ZINCON 2016 on August 10, 2016

  • « Pre ZINCON Prep and Pokémon  « this post »  Day 1 of ZINCON 2016 »