PASS Summit 2020

  • I was on one hangout where we even asked a member of Exec team if we could start up a gofundme to help them. Outside the summit fees. We were told that they were alright and did not need charity at this point. There is enough of us pitching in to help with whatever we can, although that may not be enough. And please, not this year but for other years - don't judge those who use their comp codes. There are many companies that don't pay for training. The summit is an experience like no other and if someone has grown their local community and care for it they deserve that experience.

  • Who is judging anyone for using the comp code?

    I was able to attend Summit 2 years ago because of the group comp code because the leader couldn't go. I appreciated it! I would question anyone who ONLY goes because of the comp code. Many companies like mine that don't pay for training?? I know all about it. I paid out of pocket for 3 years to attend on average 10 SQLSaturday events a year, which averaged 7k a year. I also attended a precon EVERY time and a few times a precon that wasn't really in my realm, but I did it to help out the local group running the event. I have pitched in quite often.

  • Yeah I think we are on the same page here on all those fronts. I am just a little scared of stances like 'zero expectations' of anything because nothing is quite that way. I agree with you that doing it just for a comp code is not it.  I have done the summit many different ways, paying all of it except conference and having different parts reimbursed. To say the comp code helped over the past 20 years is a gross under statement, for me. I owe my career and hence gratitude to PASS for that.

  • DBA_318, I wouldn't be so judgmental. We are all different and have different motives.

    I don't think that somebody is running a SQL Saturday and/or User Groups just for a comp code as running those events is time and money that is not refundable, but ... this is an incentive to have a mini vacation without paying a full price for it (additionally, it is easier to convince your employer to pay $1.K for lodging and airplane vs. $4K that will include the conference as well).

    People complaining about paying for a virtual event when an entire conference world is saturated with free and quality content. Why pay $500 if they can attend so many other events for free?

    Microsoft Build 2020 is a great example -

    $2,395 for a pass this year, Microsoft made the conference available to anyone who wanted to watch for free.

    More than 230,000 attendees registered for the online-only event, up from the 6,000 who attended in person last year

    Can PASS run a virtual event for free or is it only possible for trillion-dollars companies like Microsoft? I think PASS can do it, but I don't think that PASS want to do it.

  • This is a great post on the matter.

  • Steve, who is being judgmental? I made it clear I would question anyone who does this just to get a comp to the summit. Keep in mind everyone runs their group / SQLSaturday differently and you should know this since you run one yourself! Why do SQLSaturday events charge money for lunch?

    Keep in mind everyone that attends the Summit has their reason to attend whether it is a speaker, a consultant that wants to push their business, an attendee that wants to learn and network? Everyone has an agenda.

    I'm not sure how you can compare a Microsoft event to a PASS event. One has BILLIONS and the other does not.

  • The debate on motives is atleast a decade old and has caused many rifts in the community. The vast majority of community members have good intentions, work hard on their user groups and local events. We may have to leave it at that. And hope the organization survives to grow it further.

  • I would agree and my comments about the comp code are 100% based of what I have actually heard from a couple of organizers.

    Hopefully it does survive!

  • Perhaps I am different plus i do know a number of the Board.

    I've always thought of PASS as for me to learn it and then PASS it on to others. This I have tried to do since my first Summit in 2002.

    I cannot remember how I even found out about PASS but it was $50 or $100 US a year to be a member. I have attended 14 Summits and I have paid for 13 of them. I use this formula of, register at the early-bird price then later pay for flights and then accommodation. This spreads the cost out. Being self-employed if I don't work I don't get paid so taking a week off for Summit also costs me income. I am both lucky, Seattle is a 90 minute flight away, and unlucky, I have Canadian dollars which while they were once above the US dollar are now some 35 to 40% penalized.

    I realized the benefit PASS gave me to the extent that I got my employer to put educational money aside every month to pay for the experience. I had been to 4 or 5 Summits before I got notice that someone wanted to start a PASS chapter in my city and have been an admin in that chapter since 2008. I also have helped to organize 4 SQL Saturdays and that is not easy to do in Canada where we have big distances between cities and limited flights from the US and Europe. I have never been the Chapter Leader so have never had access to the complimentary code and if I am going will put aside money to do it.

    I also say what I did in the original forum. How do we expect a volunteer group to change quickly to the new covid-19 World? Governments the World over are having extreme difficulty dealing with lockdowns, massive unemployment and the move to a much more online World. They at least can raise or print money to try and support themselves to make these changes. PASS is not in that position.

    I hope that PASS and especially Summit can survive so that others can get the benefits I have gotten.


  • @dba_318, sorry if I misunderstood you. you sounded to me judgmental, so maybe it was all in my head! 🙂

    Just FYI - we at SQL Saturday in Los Angeles are NOT charging for lunch. We never charged for lunch from the day of the inception in 2017.

    IMHO as one of the organizers of virtual 2020 sql saturday in los angeles, I can confidently say that virtual events could be run completely free for attendees (we learn a lot from #dataweekender). 3-days event a bit more involved, but totally doable.

    SQLSatLA was scheduled to do an in-person event on June 13 at a local private university. We switched to virtual in less than 2 months. We reserved the venue on January 2020. We were planning for 500+ attendees + 2 highly popular pre-conferences on Friday. Our deposit for a venue was suppose to be in thousands of dollars. Did we lose our deposit? No. Did we lose money for liability insurance? No. Did we lose any investment at all by switching from in-person to virtual? No. With no sunk cost to start with, the only real costs are licenses for software, room hosts, and event marketing. If there is a will, there is a way!

  • Steve, all good and it was in your head. On top of that, you know who I am......

    I know you don't charge for lunch at your SQLSaturday! I've been there and you are only 1 of a couple that don't, but why do others? Again, every event is different and everyone had an agenda.

    My comments are 100% based off comments made by organizers in front of my face at other events.


  • Interesting thoughts from everyone and I appreciate the different points of view.

    One thing I'd ask is that you think about other points of view, how have others organized themselves. For a SQL Saturday, there are often no binding costs or big investments. For any event that contracts with a convention center, you often do so 2+ years in advance and you have contracts. You have insurance. Those you work with do not easily refund those deposits, and may try to force you to honor commitments.

    Where we are with the Summit in 2020 is a sunk cost, there is no way to get out of some of those items, especially if the local government doesn't cancel. There are also staff salaries. Imagine some of you had staff here, there are costs. Perhaps you let people go, perhaps they change. Grant has noted that some changes have been made by C&C regarding costs.

    The question is more how does the Summit 2020 and PASS handle this year.

  • One thing to consider in this. PASS Summit is in November and fabulous job for SQL Saturday LA but that was last week.

    As an example of what I mean the Canadian Federal government came out with a program to give money to people made unemployed by Covid. It was for 3 months and is now being extended by 2 more months.  If we take March as the point where it was believed that Covid was a serious as it is, governments thought they needed to protect people for 3 months that brings us to now. SQL Saturday LA fell into that 3 month timeframe where you knew that it could not happen physically so you planned accordingly. Summit falls another 5 months away. Governments hope that Covid is no longer such a big thing by November. How can we expect volunteers to change an event that there would have had financial obligations to be in Houston quickly enough?

    Another 2 cents from me


  • Chris, PASS was in poor financial health well before Covid. And two, quite the vast majority of paid registrants are not aware and don't care if it is volunteer run or otherwise, to them it is a paid event. Lastly the networking benefits you and I got are genuine, but in today's world a lot more options are available. Personlly I am consciously avoiding what I call my grandma line ('in my time...'). We need more innovate ways to market the summit and tell newer people what they get there that they can't get elsewhere. That is getting increasingly difficult to do.

  • I fully understand that they were and are in trouble financially.

    In recent Summits, the breakfast situation shows that. From a buffet to the Starbucks card without knowledge of whether it was the Convention Center wanting more for their expansion that was causing this or just cost-cutting.

    Covid unfortunately is both killing people and businesses, large and small. Some will survive because governments will help them but PASS wont be one of them.

    Because of running SQL Saturday's we have over 300 members in my PASS chapter and I get to e-mail them few times a month telling them of events. We get a handful of people attend those local events but nobody unsubscribes. It is a near thankless task getting people involved so I know about that side.

    I will probably be retired in the next year or two so I wont have to worry about whether PASS exists or not but it has helped me greatly.




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