5 Replies Latest reply on May 12, 2014 1:22 PM by mikebeargie

    DevCon on a budget … thoughts on hotels?


      I'm an in-house dev (FM development is 5-10% of my job) who would like to possibly make a career move to be doing more FM development. Contract work, employee at a dev shop, my own business, who knows? From everything I've heard, DevCon would be a great investment. But I'm not actually doing much right now, so it is hard to justify the cost … both to myself and to my wife. 

      But it is quite a financial leap for my situation right now. By the time you add up the cost of the conference itself, travel, hotel and time off of work… it's a good chunk of change.


      So, looking at ways to pinch pennies, the one variable seems to be the hotel.


      Don't get me wrong… the JW Marriott looks amazing, and the rate looks like quite a deal compared to their normal rates. But doing some quick searching, you can find many hotels just a few miles away, north of the airport, in the $90-130 range, instead of $189/night. Over 4-5 days, that adds up.


      So my question for past DevCon attendees is this: Have you ever stayed "off-site" at a different hotel? Do you feel that put you at any disadvantage, other than transportation? Did you feel less connected? Would you do it again to save a few hundred bucks? Or is it just not worth considering staying anywhere else?


      My wife would most like be traveling with me, so we would have a rental car for her to site-see during the day either way, so it's not like I would save the cost of a rental car. Or we've talked about the possibility of driving as well. Long story, short (too late!), staying off-site wouldn't incur any additional expense in the equation vs at the DevCon hotel and shuttle.


      Any other tips on making DevCon more affordable? Anyone sending 3 people, willing to let me be your free 4th person?

      Let me be clear that I am not questioning the "value" of DevCon, just my personal budget.


      Thanks for any insight!


        • 1. Re: DevCon on a budget … thoughts on hotels?

          Hello, FBN:


          First of all, if you're thinking of going into business, but you can't afford to invest in the planning (including the once-in-a-year DevCon), then you can't afford to go into business right now.


          That being said, it's the content that matters first and foremost, so you're better off saving as much dough as you can by keeping your travel costs as low as you can stand. This includes looking at a hostel instead of a 4-star hotel, or even a Motel 6 or Red Roof Inn. You only need a place to sleep and shower. Compare costs of staying out further with the increased costs of commuting to and from the conference center.


          Also, bring a wheel-along that you can take your own food and drink (insulated against damaging electronics!), as the costs for food and drinks will be staggering. Of course, with most of the conference sessions, the water is free, but stay away from alcholic beverages, as they will also be expensive. You can get a 6-pack to cool of in your motel room for less than one beer at these events!


          There's no emabrassment in staying off-site — I've always done it to save hundreds, and the experience is no less than having stayed on-site. The embarassment would only come after the conference — for not having gone at all.


          Oh, you'll also get a copy of FileMaker Pro Advanced with your paid attendance, and they've always served breakfast and lunch for most days as well (no extra cost). Use the DevCon 2014 FileMaekr app to plan out every hour of your day, and consider attending sessions that won't be videotaped, since you'll get access to those about a month or two after the conference (I wish that wasn't so long, BTW).


          Hope you'll find a way to make the investment in yourself by attending DevCon.


          Best regards,

          - - Scott

          • 2. Re: DevCon on a budget … thoughts on hotels?

            We stayed off-site in Miami two years back, but within walking distance of the Fontainbleau, which made where we stayed pretty much irrelevant.  Our hotel was occupied by a few hundred Venezuelan schoolkids wearing Disney shirts, which lent an absurdist feel to elevator rides.


            If you don't travel with your wife, look into a room share.  You can advertise here in this forum, I think.  That's definitely been done in the past.


            Finally: see if you can justify the cost to your employer.  FileMaker has a sample ROI letter you can use to make your case:


            Download now

            • 3. Re: DevCon on a budget … thoughts on hotels?

              I stayed offsite at San Diego one of the two years since it was sold out (suites only, which I could not afford) by the time I had confirmed to go. It was a bit of a hassle, but I coerced the bellman into holding bags and such for me throughout the weekend so I could enjoy myself without a backpack in the evenings. The overflow hotel though was within walking distance in the adjacent gas lamp district, and made for some nice late night watering hole finds.


              There is like *nothing* within walking distance of this hotel. So a rental car is a must. Aside from having to wake up an extra half hour early or so and being dependant on getting picked up, there really isn't much of a downside apart from not having a "quiet zone" and private bathroom to use during the day.


              Room sharing can greatly defer costs, as advised by Colin above, if the wife drops out of the trip due to costs.


              Since you're rolling in a family vacation to the trip as well, you should deduct those expenses, and ask your employer to pick up the difference.

              • 4. Re: DevCon on a budget … thoughts on hotels?

                Thank you all for the input!


                As noted in my OP, FMP is a small part of my current job… DevCon might be a springboard to a new career for me. That combined with the general attitude of my current boss when it comes to spending/investing in technology means that there is no way that my boss is going to pay for this. This will be paid by me, if it happens. Even it I can write if off for my (currently non-existent) business, there is still a cost.


                The lack of walking-distance options is what promted my question.

                A few miles + San Antonio + July ≠ my fat self walking. 


                My wife's mother is retired from Delta, so my wife can fly herself anywhere for dirt cheap. Me, not so much. So adding her on to the trip doesn't add that much cost for us.


                Anyway, lots of possible factors. Thank you for the input.




                • 5. Re: DevCon on a budget … thoughts on hotels?

                  If it’s a career you’re after, then devcon is the place. I speak from personal experience of paying my own way last year, and starting a new job last September.


                  You need to account the “networking” value in there as well, in addition to the learning experience.


                  Invest in yourself!