The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Summit East 2017 – New York City
New York, New York! This summer, the “city so nice they named it twice” will play host to the conference so nice they… uh… held it twice a year for 14 years straight!
Yes, the longest-running major affiliate conference, Affiliate Summit, is back for yet another edition. Affiliate Summit East 2017 will take over New York City from 30 July – 1 August, and you’d better believe it’s going to be the best yet – the conference has grown massively each year since launching in 2003.
With a killer lineup of speakers and excellent planning, there’s no reason to doubt that this edition will be another great investment of your time and money.
A quick note on how to use this guide:
- For complete conference preparation, read all the way through.
- For a quick primer, check out the the “quick tips” sprinkled throughout.
- If you just want to get a great slice of New York pizza, jump to the third section.
- Don’t miss the exclusive tips from organizers Shawn Collins and Missy Ward!
Let’s get right to it.
1. THE CONFERENCE
This section is your complete conference primer, specific to the 2017 event. Once finished, you should be able to justify your trip without hesitation and have an action plan for getting full value.
We’ll cover the following:
- The story of ASE
- Why ASE is worth attending
- A special interview with the organizers, Shawn Collins and Missy Ward
- What you can expect to learn
- How to network like a pro (even if it’s your first time)
Plus plenty more. Let’s go to the show!
Affiliate Summit East 2017: A Complete Overview
Beginning in 2003, Affiliate Summit has grown from a small gathering of a few early adopters into a full-on, highly respected conference series that welcomes speakers and guests from every corner of the globe.
What: Affiliate Summit East 2017
Where: New York Marriott Marquis
When: 30 July 2017 – 1 August 2017
The conference series has grown to include social events and content, with the most recent social event being the Toronto edition. In addition, they run FeedFront Magazine – a free resource for affiliates that covers everything from upcoming trends to engaging stories from affiliate industry legends.
All this has generated a loyal, dedicated following with world-class representation from all the top names and brands.
>>Quick Tip: Get info about the event live on the the official hashtag: #ASE2017<<
Why you should go
In an industry focused on people and partnerships, these conferences offer more value than a $1 slice of Brooklyn pizza – and them’s fightin’ words.
Whether it’s a lucrative handshake, a mind-blowing tip, hours of insightful content or just getting the chance to meet and have fun with people you usually don’t get to see, there’s value for everyone.
We’re not here to sell you on the benefits of conferences, though. Here’s what ASE offers, straight from the organizers themselves:
- Three tradeshow areas packed with affiliates, merchants, vendors, networks, technology providers, digital agencies and traffic sources
- Multiple tracks of relevant educational sessions delivered by industry experts
- A variety of networking events
- Online tools to help you connect with other attendees before, during and after the event
Exclusive insight from the organizers
Back in 2003, affiliate marketing was in its infancy. Without social networks and Skype, the scene was splintered – mostly centered on forums and email lists.
Where others saw frustration, Shawn Collins and Missy Ward saw opportunity… and they acted on it.
With the mission to “provide educational sessions on the latest industry issues and foster a productive networking environment for affiliate marketers”, they set out to create Affiliate Summit. The rest is history – here we are, entering the 39th edition, with attendance on the rise year after year.
We asked these renowned members of the industry a few questions about the event. Here’s what they had to say:
MISSY WARD on what you can’t afford to miss, advice for newcomers and often-overlooked travel tips:
Is there anything happening at this year’s Affiliate Summit East that you think should NOT be missed?
Missy Ward: Wow, we’ve got so much going on with dozens of sessions and networking events over the three days, but here’s what I won’t be missing.
On Sunday, we have the new “Early Birds of a Feather” event from 8:30am-10:30am, which is a discussion-based networking event where you can meet new contacts with shared interests and explore business ideas. We also have Joe Theismann, former star quarterback for the Washington Redskins and ESPN host, giving his keynote at 11:00am. And, of course, the Meet Market kicks off at noon with nearly 200 companies exhibiting.
As soon as that ends, we’ve got the Network and Chill event from 6pm-8pm on the 7th floor where you can mix and mingle over cocktails and light fare before you head off to the ShareASale Under the Stars Party at Arena.
On Monday, we’ve got the Exhibit Hall opening at 10:00am. This time around we’ve moved the RevShare Roundup into the Expo Hall, so if you’re looking to chat with merchants that have revenue share affiliate programs, swing by that area. Demo Day kicks off at 10:00am with all sorts of companies demonstrating their products and services. We’ve also got Larry Kim, Founder of WordStream giving his keynote that day, and it’s bound to be packed with all sorts of PPC and SEO tips. The Affiliate Ball happens that night at the Copacabana starting at 10:00pm. They’ve got Ludacris performing this time around which is sure to entertaining.
If you couldn’t speak to everyone in the Exhibit Hall on Monday, it’s also open on Tuesday from 10:00am-4:00pm. A great time to visit is during the Affiliate Summit Pub Crawl where you can grab a cocktail while you visit with the exhibitors. We’ve also got JB Glossinger, Founder of MorningCoach.com and radio show host of The Lifestyle Entrepreneur. If this guy can’t motivate you, no one will.
What’s the most valuable advice you give to first-timers (who have never attended an affiliate-oriented conference before)?
Missy: We have a Newcomer Program in place where we pair up first-timers with Affiliate Summit veterans who have volunteered to be part of the program. Pre-conference calls take place between the two parties to help the newcomers optimize their time at the conference. We then host a newcomer event on Sunday where all participants can mix and mingle. The deadline to apply is July 7th.
First-timers should take advantage of the First-Timer Orientation hosted by Shawn Collins on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. He’ll be giving out advice on how to get the most out of your time at Affiliate Summit… and some goodies.
Also, take advantage of our conference networking app to arrange meetings before you get to New York. Once you’re there, don’t sit in your hotel room! Leverage every minute over the three days to meet as many attendees as you can and then follow up as quickly as possible after the event. If you didn’t get to meet the person that you wanted during the conference, you could use the networking app after the show to connect.
Additionally, if you purchased a pass that included sessions, don’t worry about deciding what sessions you want to see and don’t pass up a great meeting to attend a session because you’ll get them all on video about three weeks after the conference.
Lastly, if you’re an introvert like me, come to my Networking for Introverts session on Saturday at 5 p.m. I’ll be sharing my strategies for meeting new people and becoming a more effective networker.
Any travel tips that stand out from your years of attending conferences?
Missy: I always bring an extension cord/power strip as outlets are a hot commodity. My fellow attendees think I’m a hero and it’s a great opportunity to chat with folks who want a charge.
I also include a full change of clothes in my carry-on bag, because lost baggage happens.
Lastly, I always bring Advil and Band-aids with me to take care of the blisters, backaches, and headaches that often come with being on your feet all day….and sometimes… all night.
What are your favorite spots New York – whether for fun or business?
Missy: I’m a New Yorker doing time in Orlando, so every time I’m back there, I try to hit up my favorite restaurants and areas. The summer time is great for rooftop bars and restaurants. The Top of the Strand is a 15-minute walk from the New York Marriott Marquis, and it’s got a great view of the Empire State Building. I also love having dinner in Little Italy because Orlando’s Italian food just can’t compare. Angelo’s on Mulberry is my favorite by far, and I love to follow it up with dessert at Ferrara’s.
SHAWN COLLINS on getting the most from your experience, great steaks and mistakes to avoid:
What makes ASE a must-attend event, in your mind?
Shawn Collins: Affiliate Summit is the biggest event in the world for affiliate marketers, and there will be over 5,000 attendees from more than 70 countries, as well as hundreds of exhibiting companies. This provides a unique experience to meet the people from the countries and companies you usually only deal with online.
What are your go-to places for meetings and going out in New York?
Shawn: I enjoy a nice steak, and my favorite spot is Peter Luger in Brooklyn. Another spot for delicious food is Angelo’s of Mulberry Street in Little Italy. If you like a well made cocktail, PDT is a great place, and for beer drinkers, I’d suggest the Blind Tiger Ale House for a big list of microbrews.
What’s your strategy for getting the most value out of events like ASE?
Shawn: Advance planning is key – since there are so many people looking to schedule meetings, it’s essential to set up your meetings as soon as possible, or else you could miss out on some key meetings. This can be done through the Affiliate Summit East 2017 app.
What’s the biggest mistake you see first-timers making at ASE (or conferences in general)?
Shawn: Some people get carried away at the parties and lose focus on the main reason for being there – making connections and deals, as well as learning. While relationships can certainly begin and strengthen at parties, the atmosphere is often not conducive to business deals. So, don’t go out until 5am if you’ve got a meeting scheduled for 9am that you will miss or be too cloudy to really be present there.
What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in the affiliate scene since starting Affiliate Summit?
Shawn: The technology on all sides of the industry has really evolved since we started in 2003. The network tracking and reporting is more advanced and more available (mobile), the advertisers and vendors (anti-fraud, email compliance, etc.) have pivoted well to comply with laws, and affiliates have leveraged all areas of online marketing to innovate and grow the industry.
Well, there you have it – you can’t beat advice like that from dedicated, knowledgeable organizers like these. Thanks Shawn and Missy!
Who you can expect to see at ASE
ASE is huge.
The list of companies in attendance runs long – there are literally hundreds of registered names, and the best part? You’ll recognize most of them.
These are the people you interact with every day… but this time, it’s live and in-person.
Add more than 5,000 affiliates and business owners to the mix, and you have yourself quite the gathering. That’s why planning ahead is especially important. The bigger the conference, the more opportunities to take advantage of… for both you and your competitors.
The speakers are always a huge draw at Affiliate Summit events. The size and depth of the event attracts experts from all corners of the affiliate marketing world – there are sure to be a few must-attend speeches on every attendee’s list.
Here are just a few samples of the stars in attendance – be sure to check the whole list on the official website:
As co-founder of Affiliate Summit Inc and co-Editor in Chief of FeedFront Magazine, Shawn Collins has been a major driving force for the growth of affiliate marketing since he got started back in 1997. He is the successful author of multiple books, podcasts and other sources of respected commentary on the industry, solidifying his position as one of the most connected figures in the affiliate marketing world.
Missy was one of the first and most successful WAHMs (Work At Home Mothers) and has enjoyed every minute of it since beginning in 1999. Her affiliate marketing expertise led her to co-found Affiliate Summit Inc, along with a full list of successful digital endeavors that are aimed at helping affiliates succeed and grow their business. She’s an expert when it comes to networking as an introvert, so don’t be shy – show up to her talk and learn how to break out of your shell!
John Chow is one of the most recognized names in the affiliate marketing industry, with millions of dollars in affiliate profit and a respected affiliate teaching program. Many success stories were either inspired or directly influenced by John, and his presence on social media has cemented him as a true celebrity in the industry.
Larry is the Founder of WordStream, the world’s leading PPC software company managing approximately $1B in annual ad spend for over ten thousand customers worldwide. He’s developed free tools for Facebook Ads, Google AdWords and Keyword Research that are used by over a million users across the globe.
Jennifer Myers Ward
Prior to starting ebove & beyond in 2003, Jennifer was responsible for building Palm Beach Jewelry’s online business. The website grew at an amazing rate, boasting strong traffic numbers and record sales, helping it to become an Internet Retailer Top 500 company in record time. Before her time at Palm Beach Jewelry, Jennifer worked as an Associates Manager, Director of Email Marketing and eventually a Partnership Development Manager for Amazon.co.uk.
Santi oversees CAKE’s business operations and corporate strategy globally. He is a veteran of the marketing technology industry with over two decades of experience in enterprise software focused on Global 2000 companies. Prior to CAKE, he served in senior executive positions at InQuira (acquired by Oracle), Day Software (now Adobe Marketing Cloud), Vignette (acquired by OpenText) and OnDisplay (acquired by Vignette).
Zac is one of the most well-known bloggers in the industry, with years of prominent success and thousands of valuable tips given out to his loyal followers. With experience in SEO, organic and paid traffic, he attacks on all fronts while generating his affiliate revenue.
In addition to the speakers, the most value in every conference comes from its networking potential.
This is where pre-planning can make a huge difference – and turn the conference from a fun event into a serious money-maker. Most major players will have a way for you to book a meeting online.
You can start by checking out the various Affiliate Summit social profiles:
The ASE team has done well to put out relevant, useful content for new and returning attendees alike.
Oh, and don’t forget to check in on the official Facebook event for ASE for live updates.
The Affiliate Summit Networking App was purpose-built for this event, making it a key addition to your private networking planning.
>> Quick Tip: Fill up your own calendar before everyone else fills theirs! <<
Photo courtesy of Affiliate Summit
The Meet Market is the highlight of the conference for many, especially the exhibitors. Here you’ll catch all the booths and exciting displays from companies, along with running into plenty of fellow affiliates and/or advertisers just browsing the event. It runs for all 3 days of the conference – and that still won’t be enough time to take it all in!
Special note for first-timers
Affiliate Summit conferences, like many in the industry, are quite friendly to newcomers.
Before committing, be sure you’re ready to do so. This guide is a good first step, but you can also check out these resources:
- Missy Ward’s Networking for Introverts session on Saturday
- Why you should NOT go to ASE 2017 (sarcastic, but a good overview)
- Charles Ngo’s networking tips
- 498 Reasons to Attend ASE 2017
If you’re especially confident that this is a good investment and have purchased a VIP pass, don’t miss the chance to get an experienced private mentor during the event.
>> Quick Tip: Get all the assistance you could possibly need in-person at the first-timer orientation. <<
This year’s edition will once again take place at the New York Marriott Marquis, right in the heart of Manhattan.
The organizers have reserved a block of rooms from 27 July – 2 August. Rooms are available until Monday, 17 July (unless they disappear first). You can get a discount by booking through the conference portal, but act fast – rooms will fill up quickly.
Places to visit and/or hold meetings nearby
The following places come highly recommended by previous attendees and are generally close to the main event:
- Top of the Strand (great meeting place!)
- Chelsea Market
- The Highline
- The Golf Club At Chelsea Piers
- Tao (great meeting place!)
- Buddakan (great meeting place!)
In addition, our interactive map of the city shows you exactly where everything in this guide can be found. Download it on your phone before you arrive!
2. TRAVEL TIPS
By now you’re surely keen on the conference – great!
Now let’s get you there with minimal hassle, take care of the important details, and even prevent a few unwanted surprises:
- Discover the best ways to get around the city
- Learn the local laws (before the local law learns about you)
- Get tips on tipping, traveling and talkin’
- Stay safe with emergency info and details on safety
By the end of this section, you should be ready to take on the Big Apple with the confidence of that leather-skinned fifth-generation Brooklynite who just flipped you the bird and stole your taxi.
Useful travel planning apps
In our coverage of the best apps to make you a better affiliate, we highlighted some solid travel-planning apps. Here are our favorites:
- Stratajet (Luxury Flight Planning): Arrive in style. Hire a private jet.
- Hopper (Flight Planning): Find the best prices on flights. Avoid refreshing pages – get alerts sent when prices drop.
- OpenTable (Restaurant Reservations): Get the best table in town with the press of a button. Avoid waits and stay focused on business.
- HotelTonight (Hotel Reservations): Book a room in moments. Same-day reservations encouraged. Features “Hip” and “Basic” options.
- GoogleTrips (General Travel Tips): User-submitted travel advice and recommendations. Great supplement to this guide.
Where to stay
If you’re not interested in staying at the Marriott Marquis, we highly recommend staying somewhere close to the conference – at least during the days that ASE occurs. Getting around New York is straightforward (as we’ll discuss in a moment), but it definitely takes some time – and you don’t want to waste conference time arguing with a cabby or waiting for the subway.
We personally recommend the Dream Downtown Hotel – it’s always treated us well. Our team will be here again this year, so hit us up if you’re in the area. The PH-D Rooftop Lounge is perfect for meetings!
Once the conference is over, we do suggest exploring the city… and for that, AirBnB is a great way to experience life like a local. You can also check out HotelTonight in New York for last-minute deals if you decide to switch it up on the go.
Getting a visa
If you’re visiting New York City from outside the United States, you may need a visa to enter the country. For details, visit the US State Department’s visa information website.
>> Quick Tip: Most EU passports allow you to apply for an ESTA (with some exceptions) – if approved, it takes only a few days to receive and costs around €15. <<
Got a youngster with you? Avoid an awkward situation – here’s what you need to know about age restrictions in NYC:
- The drinking age is 21. No exceptions, and you’ll need your passport – most bars won’t accept ID cards from outside the US.
- You must be 21+ to purchase tobacco. Note that smoking is banned in public places, including bars, public parks and subways.
- You must be 25+ to rent a car, plus have a valid driver’s license (we recommend getting an international driver’s permit to avoid hassles).
Currency and costs
New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but mostly due to high rent costs. Relatively speaking, prices are above average… but on a short visit, they’re not necessarily going to break the bank.
To give you an idea, here are some average prices in Manhattan (where the conference is being held):
Can of coffee: $6.14
Average rent: $3,783
Price of a home: $1.36 million
T-bone steak: $12.78
Trip to the beauty parlor: $68
Dozen eggs: $2.89
The currency in all of America is the infamous U.S. Dollar. Find current rates: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/
Tipping is absolutely customary in New York, as with the rest of America. If you don’t tip, expect mad stares and bad service.
Tipping less than 15% – even with poor service – will get whispers behind the service counter. If you’re okay with that, nobody can stop you – but you should know that wages in New York for servers are relatively low, and your gratuity makes up for this gap.
>> Quick Tip: Average tips are between 18-20%. Check the bill for “automatic gratuity” – especially in large groups (most often 6 or more). This means the tip has been added already (you may add more, but it’s usually not necessary). <<
Getting around New York
This is perhaps our best quick tip: wear comfortable walking shoes! The subway doesn’t go everywhere, and even taxis or hired cars may be forced to drop you off a fair distance from your destination.
If you choose walking as your primary mode of transport, you’re almost certain to run into Central Park. We’ve got another quick tip for that – there’s a neat trick that will keep you from getting lost. Check out the old black street lamps. They all have a numbered stamp on the base of them – the first two numbers are the street you’re on. (For example, 8420 means you’re on 84th street.)
In a city so engrossing, with action packed into every street corner, you’ll want to wander… but in order to find the best wandering spots, consider the following transportation choices:
Photo courtesy of Huffington Post
The subway is a source of simultaneous pride and disgust for New Yorkers. It’s the mode of transportation that everyone loves to hate – and in the summer, the heat adds a palpable layer of sweaty, frustrated anger.
Benefits of the subway:
- Often much faster than traffic
- Unique experience (live like a local)
Drawbacks to using the subway:
- Delays are common (check here for updates)
- Less control over where you end up
- Yes, that guy is on heroin
- Yes, that’s what 3-day-old urine smells like
- No, the wierdo who just sat next to you is not going to respect your space
If you’re okay with this, then don’t hesitate – the NYC subway is a tourist attraction in itself, and it’s how most locals make their way around the city.
Be sure to check the subway schedule before departing.
5 fast tips for mastering the subway:
- It’s just called the subway. Not the metro, not the underground, not the train – it’s the subway. New Yorkers get picky about this.
- If you’re traveling with a group, you can use 1 metro card for up to 4 people. Just swipe again for each person. (Note: this only works with cash cards, not unlimited/weekend cards.)
- It’s not smart to take the subway to the airport. Try TLC Taxi, or check out Super Shuttle for Newark Airport and NYC Airporter for LaGuardia and JFK.
- The subway lines are referred to by their designated number or letter, not color. It’s not the green line, it’s the “4” or the “A”.
- Check out the MTA’s Weekend Planner for special assistance during the off-days.
> Quick Tip: There’s a saying in New York: “If at first swipe you don’t succeed, try try again. If at second swipe you don’t succeed… get the hell outta my way!” There’s a rhythm to the subway card – you’ll get it, but don’t be ashamed if you have to step aside to allow someone behind you to get through. <<
Uber / Taxi
Like in most cities, Taxis and Uber are at odds – but the score is actually pretty even if you do the math. A recent study found that taxis are generally cheaper before tip, but more expensive after tipping. The difference is small enough that you should just go with your preference.
Read up on standard taxi fares in NYC and expected Uber fares before coming.
How to hail a taxi like a local
It’s kinda like in the movies, but there are some nuances.
- Face the direction of traffic.
- Raise your arm (like you’ve got a question in class, not like you’re waving at a parade or drowning at sea).
- Try to make eye contact with the driver if you can see them.
- Wait for a cab to pull over. If you’re wondering why you just got skipped, check the light on the taxi first. If only the middle light is on, it’s available. If the middle and end lights are on, the cab is off duty. If no lights are on, it’s occupied.
- When one stops, quickly hop in and tell them your destination. Get in the cab right away – don’t chat with the driver on the side of the road.
>> Quick Tip: Taxi drivers in NYC are required to take you where you want to go once the meter starts running. It doesn’t make for a pleasant conversation with the cabbie, but you can absolutely get in a cab, tell them you’re going somewhere nearby, then “remember” that you’re going elsewhere once they hit the gas. Classic trick, but don’t tell ’em you heard it from us. <<
Photo courtesy of The New York Times
New York is slowly going Amsterdam-style with public transport. Citi Bank sponsors a number of blue bikes all around the city, which you can rent.
Check out Citi Bike NYC for full details, and don’t forget the golden rule: Don’t Be A Jerk!
You’ll definitely want to do some planning ahead if you go with this option. Some bikes require you to “dock” frequently, which could cause unexpected costs or strange routes to your destination.
If you’re up for it, we (obviously) recommend biking. There’s no better way to see a city.
>> Quick Tip: When it comes to getting around NYC, you really can’t go wrong as long as you plan ahead. It’s a congested, busy city, and things can move slowly at times – if you keep this in mind, you’ll usually avoid unexpected surprises. <<
Health and safety
Despite a population that approaches 20 million people – and many TV series that would make you think otherwise – New York maintains the title of safest major city in America.
You can go out alone in most neighborhoods, even after dark. Crime rates are relatively low.
Despite their reputation, New Yorkers are helpful – and usually even friendly. (Don’t tell ‘em we said that – they act tough.)
The police are very present. Call 911 for emergency assistance.
Information and assistance is easy to find. Simply contact 311 to access the (non-emergency) line for services in New York City.
Useful Phone Numbers
- Emergencies (police, fire or ambulance): 911
- NYC government agencies and general questions about the city: 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (639-9675)
- Directory assistance: 411
>> Quick Tip: The emergency number is 911. Calling it without an emergency can result in fines or even jail time, so don’t call it to test your phone! <<
Talk like a New Yorker
New York is a linguistic kaleidoscope. Each borough has its own way of twalkin’, and then it gets more refined from there depending on neighborhood, ancestry, and which side of the bed you woke up on that morning.
You want to fit in, don’t you?
Our tip: Just don’t even. But if you absolutely insist on gettin’ thirsty, check this crusty list of mad lit slang.
(Just don’t use it all in one sentence. Or ever, honestly. It’s more for reverse-lookup.)
3. THE CITY SO NICE...
New York is rich with history – it served as the reception hall for America in its infancy, then supercharged the rise of global industry, challenging powerhouses like London and Amsterdam as the top financially minded city in the world.
But that’s not the New York you should get to know. This section will introduce you to the ins and outs that locals love (and lament):
- The attractions that are actually worth it
- Great spots to eat (and hold meetings)
- Superb nightlife and comedy clubs
- The best pizza slice in town (just kidding – that’s impossible to say, but we’ll try anyway)
There are a TON of tourist attractions in the Big Apple. (Ironically, one of them is not an oversized apple – business opportunity?!)
Below, we’ll break down the big ones, along with whether or not locals consider it worth your time. To generate the list, we scoured discussion forums, asked friends and dug deep into complaints (and compliments).
Our judgment may not match yours, so we always suggest doing some personal research if you want to ensure a purely positive experience. (That said, disappointment and frustration can be seen as an important aspect of the New York City experience!)
Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island: This one-two punch of NYC history is rich with info about how the legendary city went from a little rock to the Big Apple. Check the official Twitter to make sure it’s fully open.
Photo courtesy of Huffington Post
Top of the Rock: Everywhere we looked considered this the significantly better alternative to the Empire State Building – great view, short lines and nice attractions nearby. The best part? You can look at the Empire State Building, which is a beautiful part of the skyline.
Central Park: Whether you’re using “New York City’s backyard” to shortcut across Manhattan or just looking for a leisurely stroll, Central Park is stunning. It’s huge and spans the majority of the city, so take a look at the access points and attractions within to plan your optimal route.
Scenic path around Manhattan: This one is completely free and is great for those who like to get a jog in, especially early in the morning. Just head to the riverside and you’ll find it. Consider grabbing a CitiBike and giving it the whole tour!
Helicopter Tour of NYC: You’ve seen it in the movies – why not live the experience yourself? Rooftop bars offer great views, but if you fancy a breathtaking 360-degree perspective on the Empire City, then there’s only one option: take to the skies. HeliNY offers tour packages that range from “spendy, but worth it” to “blowout VIP excitement” – check them out and book your cloud adventure in advance.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met): This is one of the most important museums in the world, featuring incredible art from antiquity and beyond – it’s the biggest in the USA, in fact. Skip the crazy crowd on its famous steps by using the hidden side entrance to the left.
Free events around the city: There are plenty of fun events scheduled around the city, all throughout the year. We’ve heard good things about:
- The Staten Island Ferry
- Movies with a view in Brooklyn
- Free days at museums
- Summer movie showings at Bryant Park
- Concerts in Central Park by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
- Public canoes/kayaks on the West Side
Hotspots to avoid
Empire State Building: The general consensus among locals and visitors alike is that the Empire State Building is past its prime (it’s all corpo-touristy-sellout now). Plus, when you’re in it… you can’t see it. Visit the Top of the Rock instead for a better view, shorter lines and an overall more enjoyable experience.
Madison Avenue: We know, we know – we’re coming with a “Mad Men” theme, so you’d think we would recommend this. Sadly, its days as the advertising capital of the world have withered, and only a few true ad agencies remain here. (That’s why our Ad Men are fully focused on ASE instead…)
Anything in Times Square: The famous center of Manhattan is definitely worth a look – or maybe just a passing glance – but it’s Overcrowded, Obnoxious, Overpriced and Hated by locals. Not quite the “OOOH!” you’re hoping for. Take a stroll through, but skip making plans there.
Built on years of diverse immigrant history, New York City’s food scene has grown into a melting pot of exotic flavors, famous dives and, yes, a ridiculously competitive pizza scene. New Yorkers love their secret spots, and they’re usually unwilling to share… unless they don’t think anyone is listening.
As much as they “don’t want anyone else to ruin them with their presence”… they also can’t seem to keep their mouths shut about their hidden gems and go-to joints.
So forget flashy paid placements in outdated top ten lists – we’ve compiled this list from hushed whispers and truly happy stomachs…
Katz’s Deli: This notorious deli is intimidatingly basic and may well be the crankiest piece of New York history. It turns 130 next year, and it’s likely that the recipes haven’t changed since their 1888 opening.
Tom’s Restaurant: If you’re a Seinfeld fan, this one will catch your eye – but only from the outside. This famous restaurant was the source for external shots of the fictional Monk’s Cafe, but that’s not all it’s famous for. A song was written about it in the 80s, and it’s still kicking today – likely due to diligent adherence to their motto: Make it Nice!
Little Italy: This Italian section of the city features a whole host of restaurants, delis and gelato shops, topped off with an atmosphere that can become circus-like at times. The debate rages among locals as to its authenticity, but there’s no question that you’ll find a lot of classic options here – including the one spot both Shawn and Missy had to mention (Angelo’s on Mulberry).
Restaurant Row: As we mentioned, you should especially avoid eating at the restaurants in the vicinity of Times Square. Some of the best food in the city can be found just a few blocks away (map) at Restaurant Row, which features shorter wait times, arguably better food and more reasonable prices.
Look, you can go Google a top ten list, but that will feed you the same stuff everyone lines up for (and feels deflated after). These spots? They’re the ones locals love. To find ‘em, we asked some of our closest friends, scoured the darkest corners of the internet and gathered real input from real people – passionate fans.
Fried Dumpling: BE CAREFUL! At Fried Dumpling, you can get 5 dumplings for a dollar. That doesn’t mean you should. They’re addictive. Five quickly leads to ten… and twenty… and… well, we warned you. The location is a good jumping-off point, too. You’ll find plenty of authentic oriental food on Mosco Street in Chinatown.
Mark Burger: Excellent sliders and classic milkshakes. A solid choice for a powerful lunch – get two sliders, fries and a soda for $8. Mark our words: it’s a burger experience you and your gut won’t soon forget.
Burger Joint: This unassuming, outstanding small chain has out-of-this-world burgers at great prices. Get the full burger joint experience at any of their three aptly named locations: one near Central Park, one in Greenwich Village and another tucked away in Brooklyn.
Dirty Pierre: This place doesn’t take reservations, and that may have a double meaning – many who pass by don’t even know it’s a restaurant, and you’ll have to enter with an open mind. Dirty Pierre’s offers charm and flavor that goes beyond the food. Check out the Chupacabra story and ask them what the heck “it is what it is” means.
Cheeky Sandwiches: This Lower East Side sandwich bar serves some seriously sumptuous chicken sandwiches – at least, according to foolish locals who’ve given them up as a prime spot.
Taqueria Coatzingo: This “gringo-friendly” taco spot is a bit off the main road (in Elmhurst, far from Manhattan), but their fresh ingredients and classic preparations make them a favorite… and worth the trip (in NYC, that’s saying a lot).
Pommes Frites: Next to Artichoke Pizza, this unassuming Belgian-style potato palace simply gets it right. We may be biased as neighbors to Belgium, but there’s something about authentic full fries that just blasts the deceptively skinny oil-bombs at McDonald’s out of the fryer. Hint: the mango chutney sauce is an exceptional straying from authenticity, and we’ll forgive you for giving it a go.
The best pizza in NYC
We shouldn’t even try to do this. We were already wrong before we added the first name to the list. But here it goes… in no particular order, these are the pizza parlors and pie pubs* that earned high marks on every list and forum we could find:
* (nobody calls them that)
Di Fara: One man. One mission. One amazing pizza… again and again and again. Yup, a dude (named Di Fara – duh) has made nearly every pizza, every day, by himself… since 1964. Impressive on its own… but wait until you try the pie. It’s far away and often has a long wait, but it’s 100% worth it – a once-in-a-lifetime pizza experience.
Joe’s Pizza: Similar to Di Fara, Joe Pozzuoli has run this shop since it opened in 1975. It’s considered a “Greenwich Village institution” and serves the classic New York slice as you expect it – overloaded with melting, gooey cheese piled on top of rich tomato sauce, resting on a handmade, crispy-chewy crust. (We apologize if it’s not yet lunchtime for you.)
Lucali: This legendary name is both a hit on the major lists and oft-whispered in local circles, such that the deceptive spot clearly has no need for a strong online presence. The word-of-mouth situation is strong with this one, and that means the pizza-in-mouth situation is heavenly.
Royal Pizza: According to an insider, these are the “best Sicilian pizza slices, but they aren’t on display – you have to know about them and ask.” We aren’t cool enough to try, but let us know if you make it over there. Not far from the conference venue.
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza: With its main location next to Pommes Frites, this is a great spot for a one-two-three combo of pommes frites, pizza and passing out. Unassuming and occasionally unorthodox, you’ll find a sweet selection of slices. Hint: they deliver slices!
Speedy Romeo’s: St. Louis-style pizza, imported without a pittance of perfection lost in the transfer. Try the lox pizza for brunch, or get your Katz’s fix with their pastrami slice. (You probably don’t recognize it from Girls, but it was on that show.)
Prince St. Pizza: “Don’t be a square” is normally good advice, if a bit dated… but throw it right out the door when you hit up Prince St. Pizza. This spot was here long before square slices became trendy, which is, like, totally a New York thing to do.
>> Quick Tip: There’s no consensus on the best slice in NYC, but there is an abundance of choice. Luckily, you can’t go wrong when it comes to NY pizza – so don’t be afraid to try that hole-in-the-wall looking spot around the corner from your hotel. They might be serving melted gold. <<
More tips and resources
- Can’t get enough of the NYC deli vibe? Check out this full list of famous locales.
- Love ethnic food? This YouTube series has some serious street cred.
- Looking to escape Manhattan? Try Arthur Ave in The Bronx or explore Brooklyn.
- New York City is famous for another delectable treat: bagels! They’re everywhere, and they’re almost all on the same level: perfect. Is it the water? The yeast? The craft? Don’t ask questions. Just get the lox and love it.
Nightlife / Entertainment
New York City has a thriving nightlife, with a full spectrum of activities that range from hipster poetry readings at coffee shops to hip Manhattan clubs. It depends on what you’re interested in, but the city surely has no shortage of engaging events and activities to partake in.
Clubs and rooftop bars
PHD at Dream: This trendy rooftop lounge offers panoramic views of the city and is conveniently located atop the Dream Downtown hotel. It’s an upscale experience that makes for great partying or even a loosened-up business meeting.
STK Rooftop: This chic lounge with a steakhouse twist offers a full menu within a nightclub atmosphere. Happy Hour is from Monday-Friday from 6pm-8pm and comes highly recommended to those who enjoy a bite with their bitters.
Photo courtesy of iCrave
Gansevoort Park Rooftop: At twenty stories tall, this lounge overlooks the Empire State Building and all that the Manhattan skyline has to offer. The clientele mix stunning views with expert mixology in a typical-noncommittal “dressy casual” environment.
Highline Hotel: Lower to the ground, this hotel bar opens up after coffee time closes, inviting patrons to a cozy patio for seasonal cocktails, beer and wine. Good choice if you’re seeking a “best-kept-secret” vibe.
230 FIFTH: Another rooftop stunner, 230 FIFTH delivers enchanting views from the comfort of large umbrellas (to protect from sun and rain) and heating during colder days, making it an all-year winner. It’s the largest rooftop garden in NYC.
Apotheke: Apotheke is a fan favorite for those looking to take in NYC’s notorious cocktail scene. Its focus on masterful mixology and pharmacy vibe are reminiscent of old-school speakeasies, but expect a large crowd on busy nights – it’s no secret any more. Available to book for private events.
New York City has watched (and certainly heckled) as many famous comedians came to form, including Chris Rock, Louis C.K., H. Jon Benjamin and many, many more. You may just catch the next rising star at one of the many comedy clubs – below is a starting point.
The coolest part? Your little night out to a local comedian may end up being the setting for a secret show from a superstar. Many famous comedians pick their favorite NYC haunts to test new material and generally muck around.
If you give it a shot, you’ll discover that NYC is rivaled only by LA and Chicago when it comes to (American) comedy.
Photo courtesy of Filip Wolak
Greenwich Village Comedy Club: This tiny little basement space hides beneath an Indian Restaurant and hosts cast members from Saturday Night Live. It’s near the Comedy Cellar, another excellent choice that sees even bigger names grace its marquee.
Stand Up NY: A classic Upper West Side hideout, this place has seen the likes of Robin Williams, Jon Stewart and Jerry Seinfeld grace its presence. The schedule is released two weeks in advance.
Broadway Comedy Club: This is one of NYC’s biggest clubs, and draws big crowds for above-the-amateur-level comics. It’s near Times Square, but we’ll forgive you for going to this one.
Caroline’s on Broadway: This piece of history is among the oldest clubs in the city. It’s also on Times Square, and again, you’ll get a pass on this one – it’s where you can catch some of the biggest names without having to gamble for an impromptu appearance.
Additional nightlife tips
- Find out what’s happening during the conference period by checking this schedule a week or two before arriving.
- Get bonus insider tips on hotspots to party with the NYC Insider’s Guide.
- Skipping the cocktails, but can’t stand coffee? Try KavaSutra, a kava bar that serves up a funky traditional Western Pacific drink.
New York City is home to a staggering range of unique, interesting people – including many who don’t live there any more (or never did). This sense of inclusion, despite some basic differences, makes it the perfect setting for a conference like Affiliate Summit East. As our industry grows, we get more opportunities to welcome new people… and that means more opportunities for partnerships and growth as a whole.
Whether you’re in it for the massive Meet Market or the back-street bodega bagels, the pace and life that power New York City will surely impress you. We look forward to seeing you there!
Meet Advidi there
The Advidi Ad Men are taking on ASE! You’ll find us in the Meet Market at Table 514:
Don’t forget! Your chance to meet the Ad Men is disappearing quicker than Brooklyn’s sense of style. Take a second to book your meeting.
Map of the city
Top 10 tips
- Manhattan is just one of the five boroughs – NYC’s huge. We recommend staying there during the conference, then exploring if you have more time.
- If you’re new to conferences, be sure to take advantage of the many resources for first-timers.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes, even if you’re near the conference venue. You’ll thank us later!
- Public bathrooms are everywhere – if you know where to look. 24-hour pee-pee places can be found in police stations, businesses on public land (parks), government offices and hotels.
Taxis and Uber offer similar rates, but Uber’s convenience makes it the preferred choice for most.
- If you need to go downtown or uptown and are grabbing a taxi/Uber, walk one block to a street that is already going your direction. Saves a lot of time!
- Keep it moving! Don’t stop on the sidewalk. If you have to check your map, step to the side and out of pedestrian traffic.
- Don’t be afraid to ask locals for directions. Although they can sometimes be “a little direct”, most are quite nice and will help you out (assuming you’re quick about it).
- Plan ahead before your trips, whether you’re a few blocks away or going across town. Add extra time during rush hour.
- You can spend your life in NYC and never see half of it – pick a few things to see, then enjoy whatever else you stumble across.