I am heading to a vendor user group meeting as an invited speaker, and it got me thinking about whether these user groups are worth attending for the average participant, or are they just a boondoggle?
As I sat on the plane heading to the meeting, I remembered past user group meetings I've attended, and I realized that over the last 15 years, many have changed from meetings at posh resorts and exotic places to meetings in nice places that are often easier to get to. I have also noticed that the agendas 15 years ago used to have a significant amount more free time local activities than they do now. The technical content of the meets has changed also.
I used to begrudgingly attend these meetings as the need to have some interaction with other people in the community to see if they were having similar issues or concerns. Today, in my opinion, because of the changes I have seen, user groups meetings are something I must attend, given the quality of the information presented and the quality of the people attending (not just sales and marketing types) from the vendors. It is likely the change in the economic situation, but other factors might be impacting it as well.