My Thoughts on PASS Virtual Summit – An Editorial

On June 3rd PASS announced their annual Summit for Data Professional was moved to a virtual format. This is not surprising to those of us in the SQL Server community. Many events are moving to a virtual platform as well as being able to offer at no costs all attendees. PASS though, is a different kind of “company” for lack of a better word. We are a community of people that built this “company” from the ground up.

Due to normal day to day commitments, like jobs, most of us do not have time to run the day to day operations of the “company” and we rely on Christensen and Company (C&C), to help with those activities. It is their hard work that we PAY for that allows PASS and our community to continue to grow. The individuals at C&C do not work for free so naturally it takes funding to enable that.

Summit is our largest event each year. It brings in most of the “company’s” revenue through sponsorships and registration fees. This revenue is what allows for the next year’s community programs such as SQL Saturdays, Local Groups and free training to exist. These programs are what comprises the foundation the PASS SQL Server community thrives on and grows from. It is these events that bring us as a family together throughout the year and let us look forward to the big “family reunion” we call Summit each year. It is without saying, Summit can’t be FREE.

In the past week, I have read and heard many comments regarding the pricing and complaining that events like this should be free or that speakers should be compensated. It simply cannot be. PASS has worked hard over the last few weeks with help of many of us in the community through surveys,  focus groups, and  passionate discussions to devise the best possible offering that gives value not only to the community but allows the “company” to continue its existence. The pricing has been scrutinized, redone and then redone again to make it the best possible options for all of us. Trust that the amounts being charged are the lowest possible and are meant to keep the “company” afloat, not to turn a profit.

Yes, it is very easy to argue that without venue costs, lodging, food, etc the cost of summit for PASS is minimal, but that simply is not true. There is a lot more to it. A technical platform must be purchased or rented, C&C employees must be paid, promotions must be done, and countless other line items that need to be paid for. There are deposits and costs that have already been paid in preparation for the onsite Summit that may or may not be paid back to PASS. As someone who has had to cancel a SQL Saturday this year after already outlaying nonrefundable expenditures prior to the cancellations, I can sympathize. In my case, if one more sponsor requested a refund, at this point I would have had to give it from my own pocket. Imagine that on the scale of Summit.

For PASS to survive Summit cannot be free. There are costs and we should not expect compensation as speakers just because there is perceived lower costs of holding a virtual event. There is always more to it. I would encourage everyone to consider attending Summit if possible.  Attendees are what will help to ensure PASS stays afloat and our community can continue to exist and thrive for the coming year. We relay on PASS for so many things, for some of us it has made our careers, it is time for us to step up and support the organization in this unprecedented time.

You can register to this year’s PASS Virtual Summit here.

This event, like onsite, will be uniquely PASS. It will be immersive and promises many networking opportunities. This will not be your typical GO TO WEBINAR. Trust me when I say, everyone is working hard so ensure the #SQLFamily will not be let down. I hope to virtually see you there.


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