In this day of lightning fast communication through Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Webinars and a litany of great fast easy education it can be a very tough sell to spend the time and money to travel to a conference. I have been there, with a 2 year old at home it is becoming harder and harder to find the time to get away. We are heading full on into conference season and the time to register is now to get the early rate and good hotels but I know the drill many of you are waiting to see how the budget, weather, family etc pan out before your decision. The closer it gets the easier it is to just skip. This is not isolated to just you or to Michigan or to the MiGCSA it is a nation wide question, is it really worth it?
Of course I have to say yes, it is part of my job to travel to these various conferences and represent the MiGCSA and our members interests. But why is it important to our members when so much of this information that is presented at the conference is available for free at you leisure from the comfort of your office and a computer device? In my opinion it is not about the topics or the presenter. Those are great reasons to go but in today's age not the main reason. There is no information to be gleaned that can not be found online.
But what you can not find on Twitter or on a blog is the face to face interaction with your piers. The conversations started by a presentation or a presenter. The networking with so many that walk in your shoes on a different part of the state or country. The shared communal experience that is so unique and specific to us as Golf Course Superintendents. There is no way to duplicate this experience online or anywhere else.
It can be so hard to justify attendance to whomever needs the justification. There is no guarantee for this investment to be a good return for the facility, but I can not imagine anyone going to a conference about their industry and not coming back with a new idea or a contact that has the potential to pay incredible dividends for the facility and for the individual.
In the next two months there are some really great opportunities to test my theory. The Michigan Golf Course Owners, Golf Business Conference is December 1-3 you can see more info here. Just to our south in Sandusky the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation has a great lineup at a new family friendly venue at Kalahari Resort, you can see the OTF offerings by clicking here. Of course there is the must see event in Michigan in January the Michigan Turfgrass Conference that is built by the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation at the Kellogg Conference Center in East Lansing. The MTF has really put together a fantastic show this year packed with great topics and speakers you can go to www.mtfconference.org to see the opportunities and registration information.