- It's in Orlando in January - For Canadians or anyone from a cold climate that may be the only argument needed. Despite the chill in the air this year, it was a nice escape from the polar vortex gripping the northern half of the continent. At the Mindshare Learning Canadian Tweetup (There were over 300 Canadians at FETC this year) the prize for the coldest hometown went an educator from Saskatchewan who was happy to be avoiding the -44 weather back home.
- Price - The FETC walk-up registration price (No membership needed) was $290. There were a number of online discounts that brought the cost down to $230 if you didn't register in time to take advantage of the early bird pricing. In contrast the ISTE walk-up registration fee for non-members is $448.
- Sometimes smaller is better - With 8, 500 attendees, FETC is less than half the size of ISTE with is over 18,000 attendees. This can make FETC less overwhelming and exhausting. Despite the smaller size, most of the rock star presenters and technology companies listed on the ISTE website are also at FETC. A review of the conference agendas with reveal a number of commonalities when it comes to presentation speakers and topics. Regardless of the smaller size, FETC provides excellent professional development opportunities.
- Travel - Flying into ISTE's various conference locations presents attendees with a roller coaster of airfare research each year. With Orlando as FETC's permanent location, developing a budget for getting to FETC is considerably easier. As a vacation destination, there are plenty of flights and routes to choose from and late January also provides many off-season travel deals, making it easy and affordable to get to FETC each year.
- Accommodations - As a vacation resort mecca, Orlando is a very budget friendly location. I've had the pleasure of staying at the Vista Cay Resort for the past two years. This resort includes condo and townhouse accommodations that permit small and large groups to stay within walking distance of the convention centre for less than the cost of a hotel room at ISTE. Staying in a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom townhouse provides plenty of sleeping and meeting space for a group of 4. Each year we notice a growing number of educator walking between Vista Cay and the convention centre. On the walk this year we encountered a couple of teachers from Saskatchewan that noted that there were part of a group of 30 people from their school district staying at Vista Cay while attending the conference. A review of my past credit card statements reveals that the cost of registration, travel and accommodations for FETC is often less than my hotel bill at ISTE.
That should be proof enough that FETC is the place to be, but if you need a little more convincing check out the following blog posts:
Laura Gleeson - My FETC Experience
Jason Ribeiro - Revisiting FETC
Kyle Tuck - FETC 2014