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  1. Senior Member
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    #1

    Default Conference experience

    Can anyone talk about the SANS conferences a bit outside of the courses? More specifically is there a benefit to being in the host hotel rather than finding something cheaper nearby? Are there other events in the hotel during the day?
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  3. Senior Member 636-555-3226's Avatar
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    #2
    Host hotel doesn't give you any real benefits other than a very short walk to the classes/speakers, plus maybe a room discount. Being in the conference hotel can sometimes actually be bad, depending on the venue, b/c all the restaurants right there are insanely packed breakfast/lunch/dinner. If it's reasonably cheaper at a close hotel and you're money-tight, i'd stay at the other hotel. any extra events in the hotel (like the after-hours speakers), you can still easily attend if you're in walking distance.

    a fun word of warning - if you go to a "big" SANS conference (Vegas, San Diego, Orlando), there's a saying that the big hacking news always happens at a SANS event. Heartbleed, WannaCry, etc. I'm pretty sure every SANS conference I've been to there's always after-hours speakers/events to give attendees the technical details of whatever !!WTF!! moment happened a few hours prior.
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  4. Completely Clueless TechGromit's Avatar
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    #3
    The issue I have with so called SANS conferences is if your not taking any classes, you can't attend any of the after class lectures. I really do not consider them a conference in my opinion. SANS should sell reasonably priced passes so those not taking a class can attend after class lectures. Also SANS idea of a vendor area is somewhat pathetic, Biggest event I attended was in WashingtonDC (39 classes) and it’s maybe 15 to 20 vendors, Blackhat is a huge event, vendors go all out to attract customers. I can’t imagine the SANS event in Florida is that much better with 49 classes available.

    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
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  5. Senior Member
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    #4
    Usually at night there is a talk or two, and sometimes there are social events...all depends on the conference. The main benefit of staying in the same hotel would be limited any travel time, and on breaks going back to your room if needed. As far as price, it depends and would be something you would have to check. For food especially lunch and dinner, I would use it as a networking opportunity if possible. If you go to a restaurant all by your lonesome, you are going to miss out on professional connections that might help later.

    I actually prefer limiting vendors from coming to the conference because it’s a training conference, not a visit to be constantly sold something.
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  6. Senior Member xxxkaliboyxxx's Avatar
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    #5
    biggest benefit in my opinion for staying at the host hotel is networking. You can grab dinner or hangout with other classmates while not having to worry about going out the way.
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  7. Certification Invigilator Forum Admin JDMurray's Avatar
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    #6
    Consider:
    • Stay at a nearby hotel with a refrigerator or (kitchen) in the room.
    • Walk to a local grocery store and buy all your eats. (Easy to do in San Diego).
    • Find the cheap buffets in Las Vegas as an alternative.
    • Get a big room (at a Residence Inn or similar) and split the cost with your friends that like to sleep on couches and lug around their own sleeping bags.
    • Carpool to the event.
    • Good to have friend who brought own car in case local transport is needed.
    • Try to do/attend every after-class SANS event at the hotel.
    • Network, network, network--especially with the SANS instructors.
    • Don't get hung up on what you think a "conference" should be and just enjoy the experience.
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  8. Senior Member
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    #7
    Thanks all, really helpful info given here. I found there is actually a Community SANS event going on in my hometown, so I want to look at that.

    Seems to be a SANS conference lite.
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  9. Senior Member
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    #8
    I never went to a SANS conference, but I would say that if there is a Community SANS event locally, it is really a good opportunity for networking (the people kind of networking )
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  10. Junior Member
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    #9
    As some have mentioned, it doesn't matter if you stay in the same hotel really.. but the night sessions are really worth it (if the conference offers it). If not, the networking then is what you gain, assuming u r socializing with others.

    Where the real benefit comes, is the course experience, interacting with the instructor and other students.. The SANS experience so to speak.. that's what conference is all about.
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  11. Member LWB250's Avatar
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    #10
    As someone who has attended a number of the "major" SANS events both as a student and a facilitator, I would stay in the same venue if possible. It's not usually cheap, but the convenience it provides is a big help when you want to spend the evening in NetWars and don't have to load up all your stuff and drag it somewhere else (after consuming a few adult beverages as well, since they typically provide free drink tickets to the participants.)

    It also allows you to spend more time before and after class networking with both your fellow students and the instructors. These are the real hidden gems of attending SANS - being able to hang around without having to worry about a ride or leaving on time will permit you to stay after class. It's an ideal time to get more instructor time and additional help and resources - and networking.

    At all the events I've attended there are typically two sessions each night with at least 6-8 different presentations. That means you can see two presentations a night and in some cases if NetWars or the pen testing competitions are going on you can go over and observe them afterwards, too.

    As others have stated, it's not just attending the classes, it's the whole experience. Time well spent, for sure. I always tell myself on the trip home that "this one will be the last one" as I'm usually totally worn out, but when it comes up again the next year I sign up. I can't help myself...
    Last edited by LWB250; 11-07-2017 at 07:05 PM.
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