Geoff N. Hiten Blog

SQL Server thoughts, observations, and comments

PASS Summit Location

Both Tom LaRock and Andy Warren recently posted blogs on PASS Summit 2013 locations. As was announced at the 2010 Summit, we have a contract that keeps the Summit in Seattle for 2011 and 2012. 2013 is the next "unhomed" Summit.

One of the largest areas of contention during the recent PASS Board of Directors elections was the location of the Summit. I am surprised the keynote sessions didn't erupt into a Lite-beer-esque "More Locations" vs. "Seattle is Great" chant this year.

We had a similar issue in the Atlanta user group a few years back. We started moving the location around and taking straw polls on where we should meet. Not surprisingly, every location was the favorite, at least for the crowd AT that location. We also had issues with people finding the venue when we moved it. Finally, there were some venues that were just impossible to deal with from a business perspective. One particular place kept sending bills to the wrong sponsors based on old paperwork.

My Key Take-Aways:

  • Moving venues is a risk, sometimes in ways you cannot see at first.
  • Moving venues adds some new attendees and loses some attendees.
  • Constantly¬†moving venues gradually lowers attendance.
  • Having a regular home for an event is important.
  • Visiting away from home is important too.

What I would like to see is the Summit stay in Seattle most of the time. Ideally, the CTP through RTM years for a major SQL Server version release should stay in Seattle. Those are the years where the Microsoft presence will be most valuable.  During the "quiet year" when Microsoft is heads-down focusing on the next release the Summit could be somewhere else. It is during that time that I see community contributors such as MVPs having the most valuable presentations. Microsoft may build SQL Server, but we have to earn a living using it.

Unfortunately, we do not have insight into Microsoft's future release schedule other than its published roadmaps. Certainly not enough to plan an event 2-3 years out. Maybe we get partnerships that deep? Maybe Microsoft doesn't have things firmed up that far out?

Meanwhile, we do the best we can in listening to the community and making decisions on where to have the Summit in the future. Tell me what is important to YOU regarding Summit location. This is definitely going to be an imperfect solution, but together we can make it less imperfect.

Legacy Comments

Joe Fleming (@crazysqlguy)
re: PASS Summit Location
Seattle and Devner were both great cities for the convention, and the facilities (aside from some wifi issues in Denver) were nice as well. Here are my top requirements for a location:

1) Thriving city. People come to conventions to learn, but also to network and cut loose. to do this you need a walkable city with good public transit. Chicago, Denver, and Seattle all have this, as I am sure do other areas.

2) Average expenses. Most thriving cities aren't cheap to stay in, but some are more affordable than others. Finding an inexpensive place to stay in NYC or SFO coudl be a serious challenge. Though speakers are comped attendance, they are nto comped room and board, so if you want to attract all kinds of speakers, it needs to be affordable to come. This eliminates Hawaii, no matter how much I want to go there :)

3) Conventon Center utility. The convention center needs to be easily accessible and laid out well. One complaint I have about the Seattle CC is that it is set up for bottlenecking people coming out of certain events. It also needs to be able to handle the wifi needs of dozens of bloggers and the occasional person who needs to check in with work. The advent of tetherable android phones and ipads with 3g/4g access may help alleviate this a bit, but wifi access is still going to eb a big concern.
Nail this all down and I am there, jet lag and all.