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PASS: 2013 Summit Location

HQ recently posted a brief update on our search for a location for 2013.  It includes links to posts by four Board members and two community members. I’d like to add my thoughts to the mix and ask you a question.  But I can’t give you a real understanding without telling you some history first.

So far we’ve had the Summit in Chicago, San Francisco, Orlando, Dallas, Denver and Seattle.  Each has a little different feel and distinct memories.  I enjoyed getting drinks by the pool in Orlando after the sessions ended.  I didn’t like that our location in Dallas was so far away from all the nightlife.  Denver was in downtown but we had real challenges with hotels.  I enjoyed the different locations.  I always enjoyed the announcement during the third keynote with the location of the next Summit.

There are two big events that impacted my thinking on the Summit location.  The first was our transition to the new management company in early 2007.  The event that September in Denver was put on with a six month planning cycle by a brand new headquarters staff.  It wasn’t perfect but came off much better than I had dared to hope.  It also moved us out of the cookie cutter conferences that we used to do into a model where we have a lot more control.  I think you’ll all agree that the production values of our last few Summits have been fantastic. 

That Summit also led to our changing relationship with Microsoft.  Microsoft holds two seats on the PASS Board.  All the PASS Board members face the same challenge: we all have full-time jobs and PASS comes in second place professionally (or sometimes further back).  Starting in 2008 we were assigned a liaison from Microsoft that had a much larger block of time to coordinate with us.  That changed everything between PASS and Microsoft.  Suddenly we were talking to product marketing, Microsoft PR, their event team, the Tech*Ed team, the education division, their user group team and their field sales team – locally and internationally.  We strengthened our relationship with CSS, SQLCAT and the engineering teams.  We had exposure at the executive level that we’d never had before.  And their level of participation at the Summit changed from under 100 people to 400-500 people.  I think those 400+ Microsoft employees have value at a conference on Microsoft SQL Server.  For the first time, Seattle had a real competitive advantage over other cities.

I’m one that looked very hard at staying in Seattle for a long, long time.  I think those Microsoft engineers have value to our attendees.  I think the increased support that Microsoft can provide when we’re in Seattle has value to our attendees.  But that doesn’t tell the whole story.  There’s a significant (and vocal!) percentage of our membership that wants the Summit outside Seattle.  Post-2007 PASS doesn’t know what it’s like to have a Summit outside of Seattle.  I think until we have a Summit in another city we won’t really know the trade-offs.

I think a model where we move every third or every other year is interesting.  But until we have another Summit outside Seattle and we can evaluate the logistics and how important it is to have depth and variety in our Microsoft participation we won’t really know.

Another benefit that comes with a move is variety or diversity.  I learn more when I’m exposed to new things and new people.  I believe that moving the Summit will give a different set of people an opportunity to attend.

Grant Fritchey writes “It seems that the board is leaning, extremely heavily, towards making it a permanent fixture in Seattle.”  I don’t believe that’s true.  I know there was discussion of that earlier but I don’t believe it’s true now.

And that brings me to my question.  Do we announce the city now or do we wait until the 2012 Summit?  I’m happy to announce Seattle vs. not-Seattle as soon as we sign the contract.  But I’d like to leave the actual city announcement until the 2011 Summit.  I like the drama and mystery of it.  I also like that it doesn’t give you a reason to skip a Summit and wait for the next one if it’s closer or back in Seattle.  The other side of the coin is that your planning is easier if you know where it is.  What do you think?

Print | posted on Tuesday, February 08, 2011 8:21 AM | Filed Under [ PASS ]

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# re: PASS: 2013 Summit Location

My .02$

Since the 2012 location is already (essentially) announced, and will be confirmed at the 2011 Summit. Waiting 2 years on an announcement like this that many in the community have been waiting for wouldnt seem to be a realistic option. so, I think we're really talking about changing what has always been the MO in the past of announcing next years summit at this years summit to announcing the summit thats two years away at this years summit. If we're going to start announcing 2 years out, we may as well announce it as soon as the selection is made. There would seem to be little risk in doing this since Id think most people likely aren’t going to plan their summit attendance based on location 2 or 2 and 1/2 years out. Technology and peoples roles can change drastically in that time frame
2/8/2011 9:00 AM | Allen Kinsel
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# re: PASS: 2013 Summit Location

I have attended only one summit. That was last year(2010). I loved every minute of it. It was very convenient. The hotel was just one block away from the convention center. I wish the Karaoke place was near as well. ;-)
I had to travel atleast 10 hrs by plane (not including transit time). I had a chance to meet Jimmy may again. As far as I am concerned, I really dont care where the meeting is held as long as I get something out of it.
2/8/2011 9:03 AM | Roy Ernest
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# re: PASS: 2013 Summit Location

If the plan is to announce two years out (announcing 2013 location in 2011), waiting until the Summit is as good as any time. If we wait to announce the following year's summit (waiting until 2013 to announce where things will be in 2014), I'd say that would be a problem. The PASS Summit comes in November, usually after budgets are set for those organizations whose fiscal year is the same as the calendar year. For those of us not able to get to the Summit in Seattle either due to cost or perceived cost or (perceived) lost of productivity, by the time it is announced, we face a different struggle, which would be, "Well, if we had known earlier that it was closer to home in a reasonable location, we could have budgeted for it, but it's too late because the budget has been approved."
2/8/2011 9:30 AM | K. Brian Kelley
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# re: PASS: 2013 Summit Location

Brian,

Now that is an interesting argument. I hadn't considered it from that angle before.
2/8/2011 9:42 AM | Bill Graziano
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# re: PASS: 2013 Summit Location

O.o

Brian, that sir might be the most logical argument ive ever heard to announcing it as early as possible. Im going to "borrow" that
2/9/2011 8:27 AM | Allen Kinsel
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# re: PASS: 2013 Summit Location

First, let me say, I was flat out wrong. I'm very happy to say that I was wrong.

Since I was wrong you might not want my opinion, but, here it is, hold off til the Summit. It'll be build a little bit of noise and anticipation and keep the whiny carpers (like me) quiet while we wait.
2/15/2011 12:11 PM | Grant Fritchey
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# re: PASS: 2013 Summit Location

Grant, I definitely want your opinion. I'd prefer to hold off myself. Can we hold off until fall of 2012 to announce the 2013 Summit location though?
2/15/2011 1:08 PM | Bill Graziano
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# re: PASS: 2013 Summit Location

Bill,

Holding off till fall 2012 *might* work, but kep in mind that many many companies need to have their budget approved by late fall to plan properly for the next fiscal year. This means all the execs want their potential budget items submitted by late summer. My company runs on a shifted fiscal year, so it's even worse, but for companies who synch their fiscal year to the calendar, fall might not be early enough for some people to do ther planning. I know my boss loves it when I submit extra items to the budget after he has already submitted his list. He also loves writing variance requests.

I say if you know it, announce it at the 2011 Summit, or at a SQLRally mid-year in 2012.

Thanks for all of your work on the board.

Joe
2/15/2011 1:36 PM | Joe Fleming (@crazysqlguy)
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# re: PASS: 2013 Summit Location

I think holding off to 2012 is a little mixed. Like Brian says, some people are going to be planning their trips ahead of time and that could hurt them.
2/15/2011 2:16 PM | Grant Fritchey
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