Now for my own!
One thing Bill omits is that for many of us, we combine the Summit with vacation time. I’ve been to Seattle a few times now and so has my family, and to be honest November in Seattle isn’t on the top of our family vacation list. I’d be much more likely to bring the family if it was in a different location each year. I will attend regardless, but for those that want to combine vacation, I think it’s a big point.
There’s also a lot of fear, for lack of a better word, about things going wrong, reduced Microsoft support, etc. Not unreasonable, but even if we have a few things go wrong the first time, coming back a couple years later will let us evolve the same type of consistent pattern we have in Seattle now. Yes, we will have higher costs by not being as close to PASS HQ, but in the scheme of the Summit budget I don’t see that being a large percentage either. And while MS may have to send fewer people to stay within their budget, it’s reasonable to assume we’ll get the top people that most attendees look for anyway. It would definitely be harder on HQ to move the event around and while that’s not fun, I don’t think it should be a large factor in our decision.
A fear based concern of my own is that if we just elect to stay in Seattle each year we’ll degrade our bargaining power with the convention center and hotels – after all, they are the only game in town! PASS HQ is pretty good on negotiating, but nothing like some change to keep Seattle interested in being cost competitive.
Travel cost and time are a big factor in the should someone attend decision. Often you can shave a day or more of travel by catching an early flight in and a late flight back, something hard to when going east to west. I live in Florida, and the travel out and back just sucks, burning most of a day each way. Plus the time zone change gets me twice. It’s not much fun to wake up at 4 am Seattle time and look for something to do! Whining aside, it takes it’s toll for those of us on the wrong coast
I think it’s both fair to our members and just good business to rotate the venue each year, perhaps a cycle of Seattle, Dallas, and something east cost. We could try to tweak that to be in Seattle during launch years…if MS commits to that schedule far enough in advance for us to plan, otherwise, a launch in Dallas would be just as interesting in my book.
Finally, while I enjoy the Summit and Seattle, I can’t picture maintaining the same enthusiasm year after year if it’s always in Seattle. Part of conferences is going to new places and new things, and I hope we’ll return to the cycle of changing venues each year.