As a user group leader, I've probably mentioned to the people in my user group over a hundred times that the PASS Summit is excellent value, even if you have to pay to fly to America from Australia, stay in a hotel, and lose a week of billable time. The benefits you can get from spending time with the biggest names in the Microsoft data community are huge.
Obviously it's harder to spend time with people from the community when you're just interacting with them through a computer screen (although why not get used to that – if you can get the hang of chatting to these people through your screen, that can carry on all year!), but this is only part of the story I give as to why the PASS Summit is such good value.
The main reason why it's excellent value is the SQL Clinic (known these days as the Azure Data Clinic).
The clinic was always a great reason to have the PASS Summit in Seattle – it was simply easier for Microsoft to have a bunch of the people that already live in Seattle don white coats and hang out at the Summit around whiteboards, just so that attendees could wander up and get free consulting time (okay, they still need to pay to be at the Summit, but with no extra cost). I remember seeing former clients of mine there, who flew to Seattle from Sydney to attend the Summit and didn't sit in a single session because they (two of them) spent the whole three days in front of a whiteboard working through problems with two or three people from the CAT team and product group.
For two people to fly to Seattle from Sydney, stay in hotels, and pay for the Summit entrance fee, the cost would've been several thousand dollars. But the value of the consulting they got for that would've been significantly more.
Fast forward to 2020, and the Summit is virtual. So there are no flights to buy. No hotels to use. And the entrance fee is much lower.
But the clinic is still happening. It's mentioned right there on the "Microsoft at Summit" page.
The biggest pain might be the time zone, because I'm guessing those Microsoft people might not be available around the clock. But if I want that free consulting, I'm going to sacrifice the wee small hours of the morning (sorry, there's an instrumental cover version of that song playing while I write this) for it. These opportunities don't happen every week, and it's going to be worth sacrificing some sleep if I have some stuff to solve.
I've heard people complaining that the cost of the PASS Virtual Summit is really high, considering that it's an online event. But I don't think those people have noticed what you can get for the US$599.
I think the conversation goes like this: "Hey boss – for US$599 I can get access to Microsoft people for three days, as well as being able to attend all the conference sessions."
I suspect your boss will have stopped listening before you reach the "as well as…" bit of that.
So… I'll see you at the Summit?