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I was looking at the DevConnections conferences and lamenting the fact that the UK one was cancelled as there's absolutely no way I'll be going to any of the others, which got me thinking:

Do any companies actually send their developers to conferences abroad, or is that just a utopian ideal of which I'm irrationally envious?

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7 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

At Tech Ed USA I routinely meet people who have come there from Europe, Australia, Japan, and so on. This is particularly surprising for Tech Ed, because there are Tech Eds held in those places every year (usually - Tech Ed Europe is moving from Nov to July and skipping 2011, special case). At PDC I see even more - typically half the attendees are not from North America.

As a Canadian employer I have sent my staff to Tech Ed USA. I've never sent anyone across an ocean, but that's because nothing compelling has come up that far away. Plane tickets to London or Barcelona are not that much more than to Los Angeles or Orlando, so for a good conference, I wouldn't hesitate. If it never occurred to you to ask, try running the numbers.

DevConnections costs $1500 to attend without precons etc. Flights from LHR to LAS cost roughly the same (I just searched on Travelocity and got prices on real airlines.) 6 nights in a hotel at $250 a night are also the same. So by asking to be sent to Vegas you are only adding 50% to the cost of the conference. Actually, since you're being paid to attend, you need to include your salary for the week in that cost too, so it's even less of an increase than 50%. The value is probably 2 or 3 times though, because it's just FUN to be sent overseas for work. I think it's worth looking into.

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+1, great answer Kate - I'm not sure anyone else would see it that way though! I think I probably need to concentrate my efforts on getting sent to free conferences in London first ;) –  Town Jun 21 '11 at 12:21
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Considering that these conventions attract quite a lot of people (and the folks organising them wouldn't be doing it if that wasn't the case), I would have to presume that there are companies and/or government bodies who do this.

I just never worked for any of them, and neither has anybody whom I know. Which makes me think that I must have made a mistake somewhere long the line in the last 20 years.

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Haha! Yes, I'm getting that impression myself... I'm wondering whether, in these times of austerity, the delegates at the conferences are simply all domestic. –  Town Jun 17 '11 at 10:39
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Our company regularly sends people from Europe to the US for conferences.

Typically this is done for conferences that have no equivalent in Europe, like the former Microsoft PDC (Professional Developer Conference).

If you are worried that a trip to the US will be met with an abrupt no you should consider something closer to home. I really good conference is the NDC (Norwegian Developer Conference), which attracts some of the top development and IT Pro speakers from the US.

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Cheers Jeff, and what company is it you work for...? ;) –  Town Jun 17 '11 at 10:47
    
linkedin.com/pub/jeff-dalton/7/68a/a27 –  Jeff Jun 17 '11 at 10:48
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If you were a speaker/presenter, some companies may reward that (more common in academia), but most don't. Imagine what attendance would be like if 10% paid for it.

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Typically if you're speaking the conference pays for your plane and hotel, so your employer shouldn't care much whether it's around the corner from home or 10,000 miles away. Of course, many employers will believe they are more likely to land business, sell product, or attract new staff if you speak locally than if you travel. But that's a different conversation. –  Kate Gregory Jun 19 '11 at 16:52
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Our entire team of 5 devs was sent to the US from Australia for a conference once. That was fun, and the conference was good too.

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I thought the answers to this question might make me feel better, but actually they're just making me feel worse! ;) –  Town Jun 17 '11 at 10:59
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My company does not send me to any conferences nor training, but if I ask some days off to attend one I get them without any salary discount. But I must pay the conference and travel myself.

I think it depends on the mentality of the company. For young companies or startups I think it's more possible for them to send their developers abroad. Some colleagues on top-level large companies do attend regularly some conferences and payed by their company, which can afford having a few days with half the developer team.

Also, it must be noted that even just sending one of the developers of a company to a conference has some great added value to the company, as the developer will share any new acquired knowledge he/she has gotten at the conference (and at least at the few I've attended, it has been a large amount of new knowledge).

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Not to mention the fact that sending developers to conferences that they want to go to is good for morale (and thus productivity!). –  Town Jun 17 '11 at 14:42
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A bunch of my colleagues went from London to a conference in Barcelona once. They spent a long weekend getting plastered, and i spent two days sitting alone in our damp basement office fixing bugs.

Of course, to a North American, that sort of distance doesn't really count as 'abroad'.

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I currently live in Yorkshire where the likes of Lancashire and Derbyshire are considered 'abroad', so Barcelona is practically the other side of the world! –  Town Jun 17 '11 at 11:33
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