I've been asked by a few folks whether or not I'm going to the PASS Summit. The answer is I'm not. I'd love to, and the one I attended I found to be of great value, but basically, it's a work-life balance thing. A couple of weeks ago I took the family down to Disney World, and it was the first time for the kids. My current position doesn't provide a paid trip to the Summit. I did have free entry because I am a chapter president, but travel and lodging wouldn't be covered. Also, since my current position doesn't justify a trip to the Summit, that would mean taking vacation time. Vacation time I spent going down to Orlando. :)
I've been approached by co-workers and members of the local community about the value of the Summit. Some employers feel that since it's a conference, it's a waste of money. My reply has always been that it depends on the person. If a person intends to go to a conference just to spend a week off work, the company isn't going to get value. But if a person approaches a conference for the following reasons, likely the value is far more than the cost:
Networking opportunities with other technology professionals
Production information and contact with vendors that beats a cold call.
Specialized training in subjects you're not likely to find at a local training center
I know I'd like to go next year and I'll try to ensure the money and the time-off is set aside. However, an opportunity came up for Disney World that was at roughly the same time, and I couldn't pass on that. As much as I loved attending the one PASS Summit I went to, I don't think it holds a candle to seeing the joy and excitement my children experienced during our week in Orlando. Nothing like having Stitch mess with your hair or getting sneezed on by a huge dog (after you've been shrunk) or going to the Playmobil Fun Park down in West Palm Beach or seeing the fireworks extravaganza at Epcot. I still mixed some business in on the trip and that covered most of the cost for the vacation, but even with that, Orlando was an absolute blast for the whole family. As a matter of fact, we're trying to determine exactly when we're going next year and saving up for it now.