Why you should stay at the conference hotel

One of the things we like to do with this blog is open the curtain and tell you about what goes into creating Southwest Fox and especially the financial considerations. We think it’s helpful to us and to you if you understand why we make some of the choices we make.

In this post, we want to talk about the economics of conference centers. In planning a conference, there’s a choice between holding the sessions at the same hotel where attendees are staying and holding the sessions at a separate facility.

We’ve found that it works better for us and our attendees to use a single facility. Why? First, of course, because it makes it easy for attendees and speakers to go back to their rooms during the day to drop things off, pick things up or even take a nap. When the hotel and conference center aren’t together, that can be harder.

But the primary reason for using a single facility is that filling hotel rooms with our attendees gives us leverage.

We use that leverage to negotiate a room rate for the conference. We push to make that rate better than what you get booking directly or through a third-party. We also push to have that rate available not just for the conference dates, but for a few days before and after the conference, so that you get it if you want to come out early or stay late to visit friends or relatives, to do some sight-seeing, or just to sleep in or sit by the pool.

We also use that leverage (along with the leverage of buying a lot of food) to get the use of the meeting rooms for free. Normally, there’s a fee for using conference meeting rooms; it’s typical to have a basic fee to use the room for a three or four-hour block and then an additional hourly fee. For a conference like ours, which needs rooms to be set aside for us for three and a half days or more, those fees could be enormous. But the other income we bring to the hotel means they’re willing to waive those fees.

In exchange for this, our contract with the hotel commits us to filling a certain number of hotel rooms. The hotel blocks those rooms for our attendees and, if we fail to fill them, we must pay the hotel for them (unless the hotel is sold out). We work to find the optimal number of so-called room nights that ensures our attendees get rooms at the conference hotel, but doesn’t obligate us to pay for rooms that won’t be used.

Why are we telling you about this? Because we know that sometimes, despite our best efforts, you can find a little better room rate online, or you can find a cheaper hotel nearby. In 2018, a new Hilton-branded hotel is supposed to be built next door to the DoubleTree where we hold Southwest Fox. Based on what we’ve learned about the particular brand, rooms there will likely cost less than rooms at the DoubleTree. But those rooms will not count toward our guarantee.

So we’re asking you not to stay there. If enough people stay elsewhere or book at the DoubleTree without using our special conference code, it will cost us more to run the conference, and we’ll have to charge you more. So you might save on your room, but have to spend the same amount in added conference fees in future.

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Early-bird discount extended to August 21. Save $50

Ooops, we goofed! One of the us went on vacation and completely forgot to schedule the end of July reminder to get registered before the Southwest Fox 2017 Early-bird deadline. So to make up for this colossal mistake, we have decided to extend the Early-bird discount of $50 through August 21st.

The conference takes place October 26-29, 2017 in Gilbert, Arizona and we really hope you can be there. Head over to the registration Web site today: https://geekgatherings.com/Registration

If you’ve already registered, we thank you. Can you help us remind your fellow developers who have been procrastinating about the looming deadline by sharing this email, drop a hint at your local user group, or tweet about it? Spread the word by telling others you going on our Facebook event.

Check out our list of amazing speakers and dig into our session tracks. Follow the news about the conference on our blog.

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Southwest Fox 2017 Super-saver deadline is Friday, June 30

Hear that sound? Tick, tick, tick, tick…

That’s the countdown clock here at Geek Gatherings getting closer to the Super-saver deadline for Southwest Fox!  June 30th is this Friday and we thought we would pass along a reminder just in case you forgot to type it into your task list, or put a yellow sticky note on your monitor. We still need people to register to make the conferences happen.

The conference takes place October 26-29, 2017 in Gilbert, Arizona and we really hope you can be there. We would hate to see you lose out on the $125 discount, the FREE pre-conference session, and an opportunity to win a scholarship or a license of Stonefield Query SDK (a $6,000 value).

Head over to the registration Web site today: https://geekgatherings.com/Registration

If you’ve already registered, we thank you. Can you help us remind your fellow developers who have been procrastinating about the looming deadline by sharing this email or tweeting about it? Spread the word by telling others you going on our Facebook event.

Also, if you sent in your registration and have not received a confirmation, please contact us to see what happened. Everyone gets a confirmation when the registration is processed. As promised, we are not cashing checks or processing credit cards for new registrations until the middle of July.

Check out our list of amazing speakers and dig into our session tracks. Follow the news about the conference on our blog.

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Southwest Fox 2017 Super-Saver Deadline Approaches

Listen to Andrew MacNeill’s FoxShow podcast featuring Rick, Doug and Tamar talking about Southwest Fox 2017.

Registration for Southwest Fox 2017 has been open for a few weeks and there’s less than two weeks until the Super-Saver Registration deadline. If you register before the end of June, you save $125 and we’ll throw in a pre-conference session worth $99. Not only that, but you’ll be entered in the drawings for up to three scholarships that will reduce your costs some more.

Check out the speakers and topics on the conference website.

Please beat the rush so we still have some fingernails left when July begins! No need to wait, we won’t charge your card or cash your check until August!

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We are back…

The SWFox.NET site was down today. We are fixing things up and have most of the stuff working again. Sorry for any inconvenience to anyone looking for more details about this year’s conference.

Only 132 days until we gather in Gilbert!

Only  14 days until our Super-saver discount expires! Get registered today!!

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Speakers and Sessions posted

Speakers and sessions for Southwest Fox 2017 have been announced. We’re happy to welcome Toni Feltman back as a speaker this year.

Registration opens soon; send an email to info@geekgatherings.com if you want us to email you when it’s ready. See you in October!

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No Southwest Xbase++ in 2017

Geek Gatherings LLC, the organizers of Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++, have partnered with Alaska Software and the best speakers from the Xbase++ community to run Southwest Xbase++ for the past five years. Last November, Alaska Software informed us their core staff members would not be presenting at conferences in 2017, in order to focus on their other commitments including the LEAP program, which tests Visual FoxPro source code projects in Xbase++.

After hearing the news, we initially thought we would put the Xbase++ conference on hiatus for a single year as Alaska expects to have speakers available again in 2018. But after talking with others in the Xbase++ Community (including Alaska), we decided to try to run the conference without speakers from Alaska. We issued the Call for Speakers for both conferences. Unfortunately, we did not receive enough session proposals to put together an Xbase++ conference this year. We are naturally disappointed, but Alaska will continue to sponsor Southwest Fox and we are sure Southwest Fox will be a terrific conference on its own as it was for eight years before we incorporated the Xbase++ conference. In 2018, we hope to return to our usual dual conference format.

We look forward to announcing the session topics and speakers and to getting registration rolling for 2017 very soon. Thank you for your continued support of Southwest Fox.

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Not too late for Southwest Fox 2017 session proposals

We’re still looking for a few more speaker submissions for Southwest Fox 2017. If you have something to share with our developer community, read the Call for Speakers and then use the Submission site to send us your ideas. Please let us hear from you by next Monday, March 27.

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Call for speakers for 2017 released

We’ve issued the Call for Speakers for Southwest Fox 2017 and Southwest Xbase++ 2017. If you are interested in presenting at either conference, please read the document and consider submitting sessions via the Geek Gatherings Submission Web site.

Alaska Software has decided that their core staff members will not be presenting at conferences in 2017, in order to focus on their other commitments. This opens up several additional speaking slots for Southwest Xbase++ and we look forward to proposals from members of the Xbase++ developer community.

The conferences take place October 26-29, 2017. Session proposals are due by Monday, March 13 at 8 AM EST.

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What do you want to learn in 2017?

We’re getting close to releasing the Call for Speakers for the 2017 conferences. (Watch the News page.) As we’ve done in the past, we want to offer prospective speakers ideas for welcome topics. The list below comes from both the evaluations filled in by 2016 attendees and a survey we did recently. Please add your thoughts,both on these topics and on what’s missing, in the comments to this post.

First, the list from the 2016 evaluations:

  • UI
  • VFP in cloud
  • Computer/network security (general session)
  • REST API with VFP
  • oAuth with VFP
  • Reporting sessions
  • Disaster recovery
  • Case studies
  • Error handling
  • Advanced SQL Server
  • Business development, marketing, advertising, sales, customer service
  • Web technologies (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced), Client side web development – JavaScript, jQuery, Angular, JSON, etc., Web services
  • .NET technologies (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
  • Mobile technologies (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
  • 64-bit VFP compiler
  • Building applications to run as a service and building complimentary UI based apps to interact with and/or control that service’s behavior.
  • Upsizing applications
  • VFPX bonus session
  • Q & A session

Now, the additional topics mentioned in our SurveyMonkey survey:

  • More of the Xbase++ from the FoxPro perspective (like Alec Gagne gave in 2016)
  • Refactoring (to Xbase++)
  • A overview of web development – MVC, ASP, Angular, JSON, etc. what is each.
  • Business Intelligence
  • Remote Desktop
  • CXP within Web Technologies
  • DBF corruption causes and avoidance
  • Migration Ideas and Case Studies – Going from VFP to cloud and/or mobile
  • Non .NET approaches to replace Visual FoxPro
  • “Foxpro is _NOT_ dead!”
  • Foxpro and AngularJS
  • Who earns a lot of money these days WITH FoxPRO, and how they do it
  • Stupid mistakes with VFP you probably don’t know you’re making
  • Reporting through XBASE ++
  • Creation of forms in XBase ++
  • What’s broken in VFP? Given changes in Windows and Networks what does not work in VFP any more? What are the work arounds?
  • Node.js
  • Big data
  • No SQL databases
  • Express++ with Roger Donnay
  • The good way to do things with Steffen (like File Locks and Unlocks, when, how the system works with files on the low level)
  • User Interfaces
  • More on CXP

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