7 ways to stretch your SAS conference dollars

It's that time of year: too much shopping, endless parties and another round of budget cuts! Whether it's personal or business budgets, December finds many of us looking for ways to be good stewards of whatever resources we have available.

One of our teams was recently asked ““If I want to attend a SAS conference, but I have little or no budget for travel, what do you recommend?” This seems like a good opportunity to remind you of why SAS conferences offer so much value and provide a few tips for helping you get the most out of your SAS travel and training budgets.

1. Act locally. Search for a SAS Users Group in your area and become an active member. Expenses for regional travel may be less costly, and you'll find that regional user conferences offer similar training, technical support and networking opportunities for users as the larger SAS Global Forum.

Many organizations have in-house SAS users groups and support networks. If your SAS user base is large enough, here are some tips for forming a group. You might also want to explore how one company created A Corporate SAS Community of Support .

2. Look for discounts. Books and training are discounted when purchased at SAS Global Forum and most regional conferences. Many conferences offer discounted registration fees for teams.

There’s a team discount for SAS Global Forum 2013 registration fees for four or more business or government attendees from the same organization. Preregistration for team discounts closes on April 9. This year, conference planners are offering One Day Passes for those who can't be out of the office for more than one day, and reduced student and academic fees are also available.

The SAS Publications Bookstore extends a 20% off discount on hard-copy books to attendees at SAS Global Forum and at regional user group conferences. The discount includes free shipping to conference attendees with US addresses.

Save 15% on SAS training courses and SAS certification exams offered in conjunction with SAS Global Forum. Arrive early or stay longer to take advantage of this opportunity to improve your SAS skills.

3. Apply for scholarship programs. Those new to using SAS can take advantage of scholarship programs offered by most conferences.

The call for papers for the SGF 2013 Student Ambassadors Program is closed, but you can still submit an application for the Junior Professionals Program until February 18, 2013. The 20 participants selected for this program will receive waived registration fees, a free tutorial, and three free meals.

4. Use extra credit. If your company has enrolled in the Enterprise Professional Training Offer program, or EPTO, the units accumulated in your account can pay for SAS Global Forum event registration fees with a class or certification exam registration.

EPTO is a discount program for SAS training, through which a company purchases training units in advance for as much as 30% off. The units can be used for SAS training courses, select conferences and other items. Ask around your organization to see if there are any EPTO units you can use, then read more about EPTO registration details.

5. Plan ahead. The call for papers for SAS Global Forum 2013 has closed, but you can start researching topics for 2014. You can also submit those ideas to your nearest regional users group. Some conferences may waive or reduce registration fees for presenters, and having an accepted paper for the world's largest SAS conference may be an incentive for finding a few extra dollars for travel to Washington, DC!

No travel or training money in your budget? Try these:

6. Attend online. Look for online resources from SAS or SAS users.

SAS Talks is a webinar series featuring technical presentations by SAS experts, instructors, authors, customers and students. Monthly live webinars are archived for later viewing.

SAS Global Forum Proceedings and regional conference proceedings are published online. Check the searchable SAS Proceedings site. This repository holds more than 21,000 papers spanning 20 years and 10 different users groups.

7. Find a support group. There are 20 discussion groups available through support.sas.com communities. These groups and blogs like the one you’re reading are perfect ways to connect with SAS users worldwide.

Whether you have a tight training and conference budget—or no budget at all—you can find ways to be part of the SAS user community.

tags: SAS Global Forum, US Regional Conferences

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