This is Part 2 in a series I am writing about my journey to the SQL PASS Summit 2011. If you missed the previous entry, you can read about it here. Follow the journey on twitter with the #j2pass2011, and feel free to use the tag for your own journey!
I’ve been wanting to go to the PASS Summit for years, but I’ve not had the opportunity to do so before now. Time, money & distance have all played they’re part in preventing me from going. However, last year when I joined a fantastic BI Consulting company in Melbourne, I expressed my desire to attend the highlight of the SQL Server event calendar; we came to an arrangement and I got rather excited. That was back in September 2010, which is when I started planning.
Registration – the early bird gets the cheap stuff
As I’ve been following the goings on at Summit (online, obviously), I know that there are early bird specials to be had. So I made sure that my registration was booked before Dec 16th 2010. At an early bird cost of just $1,295 for a full 3-day conference INCLUDING 2 pre-cons, that’s not too shabby. Heck, you can’t can’t get a regular 3-day training course for that much money. Leaving the registration until the last minute would have cost $2,785. That’s quite a saving. So if you have the opportunity to do so, early bird registration is definitely the way to go. So start planning for next year already.
Travel – it’s like going back in time
Continuing with the theme of getting things done sooner rather than later, I booked my flights back in January. Now flying half way across the globe is never going to be cheap, but by booking the flights when I did I ensured that I got the dates/times that I wanted as well as choice of airlines; and therefore I could shop around for the best ticket prices. If I had left it until today to book, the cheapest (comparable) flights are DOUBLE what I paid back in Jan. Not to mention the extra layovers I would have had to endure; 23hrs flying time on the flight I booked vs. 29hrs on what is available today.
One thing I still find cool is that I’ll leave Melbourne at 11am on October 8th and land in LA at 6:30am, October 8th; it’s like I’m a regular Time Lord…. On the flip side, coming back I loose 2 days, which sucks even more as it’s the weekend!
A note on travelling to the Summit from outside the US: If you happen to be lucky like me (I’m British, don’t hate me) then you won’t need a visa to enter the US. However, if you don’t qualify for a visa waiver then you will need to obtain a visa. In order to obtain a visa you will need a Letter of Invitation, which you can request from PASS by filling out this form.
Getting to and from the airport (Seattle Tacoma International, aka SeaTac):
- Taxi – About $40 (check twitter to try and find other PASS Summit attendees who you might be able to split the fare with)
- Light rail – about $3
- Bus – about $3
I still need to book a room. Which I plan to do imminently by the way. PASS is touting these two hotels as discounted options:
It’s likely that I’ll go with one of those as I am from out of town and don’t know the area well enough to make any informed decisions. Plus I want to be as close to the action as possible. If you have any tips on where to stay I’d love to hear about them!
Eating, drinking and being
From what I’ve been led to believe, breakfast and lunch are provided at the conference. Dinner is a different story however. If you are one of the cool kids, or you rub a vendor up the right way, then you may get to attend one of the many parties that [apparently] happen most evenings. There is also a Microsoft Night on the Wednesday evening where one can indulge in not just food, but gaming too. Otherwise it’s up to you to find a suitable eatery, of which there are many in Seattle. Average meal prices are around the $12 – $15 mark, or so I’m told. Here’s some info about facilitated networking events that usually revolve around food.
SQL Karaoke. Need I say more? Oh, ok then… Go check out sqlkaraoke.com, put together by @Dancem0m. Something to be had for everyone I reckon. And if you are not a singer, then just spectate, I’m sure you’ll have a laugh or two.
Following the action – Twitter, Foursquare,
GoogleBuzz Google+, etc, etc
Twitter: There is always plenty of information to be had from following the action online. There are numerous hash tags that people use on twitter when at the conference, here are a few to look out for:
Not sure what Twitter is? Really? Really Really? Go read The Simple Twitter Book and get you some edumacation. Sheesh.
Foursquare: if you need to find a venue loaded up with SQL people (or if you want to avoid them) have a look on Foursquare. It’s also a great resource for finding new places to eat; I find that the reviews on foursquare tend to be a little more ‘real’ than those on other review sites.
PASS also had a “PASS it on!” social contest last year, enabling other people (i.e. me), who weren’t able to make it, to live vicariously through the tweets/check-ins of those who participated. I’ll be trying to do my fair share of getting the word out this year.
Google+: while this ‘little’ social network is starting to gain some traction, I’m not certain of the impact it will have (for the conference) over twitter & foursquare; which is where most people are already. I can see the potential though for some shorter-than-blog-posts-but-longer-than-tweets type of posts, so we will just have to see what becomes of it.
Some Really good reading
Here is a list of some great blogs on previous summit experiences & travel tips (yes, I know these seem a little dated, but they still have valid points):
- Getting budget approval for conferences – Brent Ozar
- Get you manager to say ‘yes’ – Brent Ozar
- Paying your own way to the PASS Summit – David Steyn
- Conference ROI – Steve Jones
- Top 10 reason to attend the PASS Summit – Steve Jones
- Getting to PASS on the cheap – Jeremiah Peschka
- PASS Summit on a budget – John Sterrett
- Travel Tips – Kevin Kline
- Travel Tips for non-frequent flyers – Brent Ozar
- Top 10 PASS Summit (2010) tips – Brian Garraty
- Journey to the PASS Summit 2011 Part 1 – yours truly
This post has been a it of a link fest, but hey, all the good stuff is already out there; just go and read it!
See you in Seattle.