I got a note this week from the organizers of VS Live. They let me know the March event in Las Vegas was being cancelled. That was disappointing to me, as I enjoy going to Vegas for a couple days and was looking forward to the getaway.
Their reasoning was the escalation of the Omicron variant. It was slightly surprising to me, as I think the Omicron wave is receding, as South Africa and the UK. In fact, the UK has removed some restrictions. Our Governor in Colorado has been reporting similar news, expecting the rise in cases in my state to start dropping soon.
I’m glad, as it seems that this variant is closer to the normal flu and people are learning to live with it. Most of life is fairly normal, albeit with some minor precautions and masking, and some evidence of vaccine/negative test/past infection required in places. I think those are sensible and allow us to move forward with life.
However, a conference is different than living life. Conferences have to make a bet on space, hotels, and more, with financial payments due before attendees pay for registration. I completely understand that the last few months likely had many attendees (and their employers) hesitant to travel to, and pay for, a large event. Despite the requirements for vaccine or negative tests, I am guessing few people were willing to take the chance.
A few weeks ago the VS Live staff actually emailed to ask if I was still planning to attend as a speaker. I let them know I was, but apparently some speakers were asking to switch to remote presentations. That’s been offered for SQL Bits speakers as well, and I completely understand the decisions others make.
I think that we will get back to in person conferences, or perhaps hybrid ones, but it is going to take time. Planning an event is hard, and it can be scary if you are not sure of whether or now people will come. I was luck to attend the SQL Server and Azure SQL Conference in Las Vegas in December, with plenty of others that wanted to also come. I expect that the fall will include more events, and VS Live has said their summer and fall events will go on.
There are a few SQL Saturday events in planning, but quite a few more have pulled back with the concerns of Omicron. Understandable, but I do hope that we start to move forward as we find safe ways to do so.
Since I now have a small hole in my schedule, I’m starting to look for a different getaway with my wife. Hopefully something in the mountains of Colorado.