Attending Dreamforce – Worth the Investment?

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Registration for Dreamforce ‘22 has recently gone live – yes, you can now get your hands on a ticket, nearly three years after the last large-scale Dreamforce took place! As a Salesforce professional, attending this popular conference should be a no-brainer. After all, it takes place over three days, with countless sessions to sink your teeth into, close proximity to the experts, and famously good networking opportunities (with thousands of attendees).

As Salesforce says, it’s “the world’s largest software conference, with a healthy dose of magic”. Attending Salesforce’s flagship event seems like a dream for Trailblazers, to be met with a resounding “yes” when asked if you’d attend. That’s until you come across the $1,299+ price tag (if you’re quick enough to grab early-bird prices).

In reality, the significant cost is prohibitive for the vast majority of people. Not only do you need to factor in the price of the conference pass, but also the spike in demand that increases accommodation and transport costs to eye-watering amounts (especially for international attendees!).

This begs the question: does Dreamforce offer a good return on investment? Back in 2019, we asked this exact question to the Salesforce community. The responses revealed some interesting insights which we’ll reshare in this article. By the end, you may find that you have new considerations to help you make your case.

How to Get to Dreamforce

First, let’s make it clear that there are two ways for people to make their way to Dreamforce:

  • Individually: Paying for the experience out of your own pocket.
  • Expensed by your employer: Completely, or partially. We’ll come back to “how to convince your boss” later in the guide.

With Dreamforce passes rumored to be selling out, it places significant pressure on your decision-making time, which isn’t helpful for your stress-levels! Start thinking about your approach with plenty of notice.

Overall, close to two-thirds (61%) of respondents agreed that Dreamforce provided a good return on investment. With in-person, large-scale events still very much a novelty, this number could very well have increased in time for Dreamforce ‘22.

A Financial Return Is Not The Point

Many in the community were quick to point out that it’s not all about money:

  • “Go to network, go to learn, go to have fun. Looking for a financial return on investment is not really the point.”
  • “The interactions you get are worth it.”
  • Plus, the face time with Salesforce Solution Engineers and Product Development: “This is where I meet the people that have the answers to Salesforce obstacles.”

The experiences on offer at Dreamforce are priceless – costs aside, it’s impossible to put a monetary value on face-to-face networking and spontaneous encounters.

The Scale (And a Sneak Peek Into The Future)

Nowhere else on Earth can you find so much Salesforce spirit – it feels like much of San Francisco is taken over by Salesforce. The scale and buzz of the event are remarkable, mostly because incredible innovation is showcased in epic keynote performances.

  • “Part of the fun of Dreamforce is the enormity of it.”
  • “A ton of good interaction and getting to see the 10,000-foot view of some sexy offerings.”

Aside from the showstopper keynotes, roadmap sessions give us a peek into future features, but you can balance this with a variety of how-to sessions which you can apply straight away:

  • “Dreamforce has given me lots of insight into road-maps on what is coming, balanced with an overload of ‘how to’ sessions/workshops/and 1:1 encounters.”

Not all Dreamforce sessions are streamed on Salesforce+ or recorded, which means that attending in person really does give you added value.

Thoughts From the Die-Hard Dreamforce Fans

We heard from the Dreamforce fans who have attended on countless occasions to soak up value from the conference, time after time:

  • “I am a 12-time Dreamforce attendee and use it to bring myself up to speed on the most recent features/apps/etc., as I find it hard to stay completely current throughout the year as an overworked solo admin.”

12 years of Dreamforce? One word: impressive! These Trailblazers can be a wonderful source of support during the event too:

  • “I have attended Dreamforce for 2 years, and I would have been completely lost had I not had some advice from my 9-time returning admin I was attending with”.

Prepare and Do Follow-Ups

A group of respondents focused on the practicalities. Firstly, planning your movements and logistics is key:

  • “If you aren’t super strategic in what sessions you attend, you will spend all your time getting from one place to another and missing out.”

Secondly, getting a good return from Dreamforce involves making the connection between the inspiration and the big idea, and applying these within your organization when you return:

  • “The enthusiasm after the event is like a wildfire, but it needs to be documented and shared with a dose of reality.”

Go At Least Once

Dreamforce brings thousands of newcomers each year. After hearing from so many members of the community, no newbie is disappointed. In my personal experience, I remember how pumped I was, even weeks after the event.

A recurring piece of advice that was shared in the survey was to try to attend at least once:

  • “I would encourage every SF specialist to attend at least once.”
  • “I feel like going to Dreamforce at least once is really helpful as a newer SFDC Admin/Dev.”
  • “Interesting to attend at least once. And then you can decide if you want to attend more, or rather go for local events.”
  • “Only went once, which was my first year as an admin, when I took over as the solo admin. Dreamforce was very helpful. Hopefully, I will be going this year after a 3 year absence and hope to focus on long-term goals this time around instead of just getting up to speed like I did the first time.”

By going at least once, you will be better placed to make the decision in the years following without any regrets.

Take a walk in Candice’s footsteps before you decide, by reading her openly honest account of her first Dreamforce as a Salesforce Admin.

How to Convince Your Boss

The cost of attending Dreamforce may make your manager’s eyes widen. How can you ensure that the cost is a good investment, and not an unwelcome dent in the budget?

Salesforce provides a template email for you to fill out and send your manager’s way. I think this is a totally worthwhile exercise for you on a personal level, as you’ll be paving the way for a fruitful event by outlining your objectives (the internal projects you will be benefiting).

What If You Really Can’t Go?

Your circumstances may be unavoidable – whether it’s budget, work commitments, or the travel involved – or simply that you missed out on the conference pass sale! There are two useful (and simple) suggestions to soften the fear-of-missing-out:

  • Attend remotely.
  • Focus on other Salesforce Events.

Attend Remotely

Fuelled by the Covid pandemic, Salesforce launched their free streaming platform, Salesforce+. Most sessions (particularly the keynotes) are available online so that no one misses out on the news and knowledge sharing aspects of the event.

  • “A lot of what I got when I went was similar to what I got when I didn’t go and watched online”.

Even if you don’t sit yourself down to attend remotely, the trail of Dreamforce content lasts far longer than the event’s hype:

  • “The recordings that are posted online after the sessions are VERY helpful in providing tutorials to the community.”

Attend Other Salesforce Events

While the scale of Dreamforce blows other events out of the water, a few were named as alternatives, especially TrailblazerDX which happens earlier in the year:

  • “While I love Dreamforce and it’s a ton of fun, I see much more value in smaller, more educational conferences. My favorite is the boot camp portion of TrailblazerDX.”
  • “Some of the other SFDC events like World Tour & TrailblazerDX give you similar feel/content… the actual technical knowledge you [can] acquire.”
  • “Once you are on board, you can gain more from TrailblazerDX or local events.”
  • “As someone who works on the System (Admin, Dev, Architect, Solution Engineer), your ROI will be much better when attending TrailblazerDX or even better, any Dreamin’ event (less Salesforce promotion and show, more hands-on real-life topics and sessions).”

Summary

Attending Dreamforce is an investment in terms of money, and let’s not forget the time and energy it requires too!

One thing that’s obvious from the community’s responses is that it’s not all about the monetary return on investment – Salesforce have engineered Dreamforce as an experience; there’s a contagious buzz that comes with face-to-face networking and spontaneous encounters.

However, when it does boil down to ROI, there are strategies attendees use to ensure they soak up the most value, and deploy that value to their users once they return to the office.

Hopefully, this post has given you some extra considerations you may not have thought about before. So, see you there?

Check out our Complete Guide to Dreamforce 2022, our annual bumper resource for planning and attending the event.

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