D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

June Conference Smackdown: DevTeach vs. VS Live

Sunday, June 7, 2009 10:03 PM

This week brings us two conference events in North America: DevTeach and VS Live. Did you choose VS Live for your conference selection this year? If you did, I’m about to share some information that may cause you to re-think your conference decision for next year.

Now a disclaimer: I’ve been attending DevTeach for a number of years, and speaking at the last two (as well as this one coming up), so yes I am biased. However, this will be a Michael Moore-esque post: I’ll give you facts, then add witty banter influenced by my opinion. I’m comparing the main three-day conference offering, not any of the pre or post conference offerings by either conference.

So let’s begin the June Conference Smackdown!

Sessions and Tracks

At first glance VS Live might seem like the winner here, sporting 9 tracks compared to DevTeach’s 8. The difference is that each of the VSLive tracks occur only *once* over the three days. That’s right: if you want ASP.NET or Silverlight topics, you better be there on Day 1. DevTeach on the other hand holds the same 8 tracks throughout the three days. This gives more freedom for attendees to see a broad range of presentations instead of forcing them to schedule topics on individual days.

DevTeach slaughters VSLive in number of sessions over the three days: 119 to 43.

Winner: DevTeach


Now I’m not talking about quality of speakers here. Both conferences rank high on who they have presenting, without question. However there’s a huge discrepancy in the number of speakers, which also translates into the number of opportunities attendees have to converse with and ask questions of the experts.

VSLive has 27 speakers while DevTeach has a whopping 58! While its true that some speakers are only going to be available on the day they’re speaking (Michael Stiefel for example is actually speaking at both conferences: VSLive Mon/Tue and DevTeach Wed/Thurs), DevTeach still offers more experts in more track areas over its three days.

Winner: DevTeach

Conference Cost

I’m going to be comparing straight dollars here. I have no idea if VSLive offers any incentives, but DevTeach provides free admission if you’re a user group leader in Canada and also offers a ‘Buy 2 registrations, get 1 free’ deal for anyone. But regardless of that, let’s compare costs to attend.

VSLive charges $1495 USD for its three day conference, with an early bird price of $1295 up until May 22. Their hotel deal with the Venetian is $119 USD a night.

DevTeach charges $1037 USD for its three day conference, with a tiered early bird registration scheme that offers $787.67 USD before March 31st, $871 USD to March 31st, and $954 USD to April 30th. Conference hotel is $225 CDN a night.

So if you paid for three nights and the earliest early-bird pricing, here’s the breakdown:

VSLive - $1652 USD
DevTeach - $1463 USD (Actually less…I just used the Canadian rate for the hotel)

DevTeach, with more speakers and more sessions, is just under $200 cheaper!

Winner – DevTeach

Now, there are a few things that can factor into your decision. DevTeach is in Vancouver Canada, and with the new border requirements ensuring that you have proper identification for crossing back into the US (if that’s your home country) is a requirement. Also airfare may be more or less expensive depending where you live. You won’t be able to fly LA to Vancouver for as cheap as the SouthWest run from LA to Vegas for instance. And of course there’s the allure of Vegas itself which many cities would have trouble competing against.

But a conference is really only as good as the content presented, the opportunities for attendees, and the knowledge transfer that happens. DevTeach wins on all fronts:

- Number of tracks and sessions offered
- Number of speakers
- Raw cost to attend the conference

Next year DevTeach 2010 will happen in June at Toronto Canada. If you went to VSLive this year, I hope you have a good time. But if you’re planning on hitting one conference in the Spring of 2010 make sure to put DevTeach on your short list and compare the value that it provides to the competitors.



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